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Roman à Clef Watch!

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Poor Anna Wintour: Not only is Meryl Streep impersonating her in the film version of The Devil Wears Prada, but she has to see her life dramatized in print yet again in Candace Bushnell’s Lipstick Jungle, this time as waifish, adulterous fashion editrix Nico O’Neilly. “People often mistook her for a snob or a bitch,” writes Bushnell. “And not possessing the gift of the gab, Nico couldn’t explain that this simply wasn’t true.” It’s not just Wintour: Condé Nast is everywhere, from former Australian Vogue editor Marion Hume’s The Fashion Pack to Ben Kunkel’s novel Indecision, in which a familiar cafeteria displays “one straight guy for every four women.” (Meanwhile, in the New York Observer, Matt Haber declared that he and his friends have been “Kunkeled”—their Chambers Street loft transmuted into the book’s slacker lair.) For her part, Prada author and Wintour betrayer Lauren Weisberger dishes about the PR demimonde in her new novel, Everyone Worth Knowing—which she insists includes no doppelgängers. That may be because she’s simply cut out the middleman, including such unconcealed characters as the owner of Elaine’s, who “waddles over” to the narrator. Still, Elizabeth Spiers, who panned Prada, is more subtly, and inaccurately, alluded to as “that ugly little lesbian troll blogger who can’t stop writing about how much blow she does every night” (subtlety being a relative term). Other writers have gone straight for their famous families, including Justine Lévy—scion of French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy—whose Nothing Serious takes a shot at model Carla Bruni (who ran off with her husband) and whose narrator confesses to stealing her philosopher father’s amphetamines. More locally, high-end chick-lit novice Galt Niederhoffer’s A Taxonomy of Barnacles sends up her own father, hedge-fund speculator Victor Niederhoffer, here transformed into “Brooklyn’s Pantyhose Prince,” who “rolled into rooms as he did most things in life, without apology or awareness of its idiosyncrasy.” But these are small potatoes, geopolitically speaking. Bush-battler Richard “Against All Enemies” Clarke goes fictional with a thriller titled The Scorpion’s Gate, starring a Rumsfeldian rogue rattling his saber at Saudi Arabia. Sample dialogue: “Bullshit, MacIntyre! What the fuck do you think they bought these things for—Chinese fireworks for Ramadan?” As a bonus element, there isn’t a single mention of Condé Nast.


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