“The Landscape of Pleasure” by Amanda Briggs is well written, but unappealing. It comes from the realm of shows like You’re Cut Off or the Real Housewives franchise. Rich, entitled women acting poorly with little or no consequence.
The main character, Diana, is an incoming freshman and is ready to leave home. Besides the normal teen desire to leave home, Diana is also anxious to get away from her alcoholic parents and their philandering ways. Most of the story takes place at a country club, or a bar where Diana and her friend can drink underage. The rest of the story takes place in Jaguars and convertibles, or Diana’s home. Emphasis is put on the cars and that’s partly due to Diana’s relationship with an older man who works on expensive cars.
This man, Russell, is a friend of her father’s and used to sleep with Diana’s mom. Are we supposed to be reading parallels between Diana and her mom? They both make poor choices with alcohol, have sex with the same man, and are spoiled. Are we supposed to believe Diana’s teenage display of sex as love, even when she writes back that she loves Russell? The last line of the story reads like solidified pouty, teenage angst.
Alone on her bed, in her new dorm, Diana writes back to her father. The story closes with a one line paragraph: “I loved all of them terribly once.” It’s difficult to take that line seriously, or to care much about Diana. She has no history of love. She has no context for caring.
Overall, this story is predictable and doesn’t go in new directions. The one thing that it doesn’t have in common with those shows I mentioned earlier is the train wreck quality. I don’t think a lot of people are drawn to those shows because they identify with the people on them, but because they are either entertained or have their life reaffirmed by the ugly behavior and base drama. It’s the dramatic equivalent of an accident, complete with paramedics standing by. Perhaps if “The Landscape of Pleasure” was injected with some of the over the top antics of Jersey Shore, it would at least be an entertaining read.