Jul 4, 2007

Consumer Notes: Hindi Bindi Club?!

Had a chance, for the first time in a long time, to get some quick chores done at the local shopping center.  While I hate to admit it, there's a Target in that center, and I ended up stopping by. Two quick observations:

1) Has anyone else noticed how fancy, "hip," and competitive gum companies have gotten?  The sugarfree wars are on, and I just saw a new Wrigley "label" called Flare, which I picked up.  The package is a slick black, with red/flame highlights, and it's more intricate than most of the other gum packs I've seen (like Orbit, Stride, etc).  You go through the whole thing, and once you finally open it up, ends up that it's the old traditional sticks of gum, a la Juicy Fruit.  Damn.  And it's all sugarfree too.  It's just too obvious that they're soft-marketing this to smokers, to replicate the cool of a pack of cigarettes.  I was just confused.

2) More shocking, passing by the books, I came across a title that I had to double-take before seeing that I'd read it correctly the first time: The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan. The description harkens back to the "tradition of the Joy Luck Club." The website goes on to say:

For decades, they've gathered together, dressed in saris and sweater sets, to share recipes, arguments, and laughter. They are the Hindi-Bindi Club, a nickname given by their American daughters to the mothers who left India to start life anew. Daughters, now grown, and facing struggles of their own. 
Yeah, it's that bad.  

You'd think she'd have topped off this heinous sundae with a food-metaphor-cherry, but I guess the twin ugliness of a reference to a tired book from the Asian American canon and a trite sing-songy pairing in the title does the trick.  Of course, apparently, this thing is a "novel with recipes." Perfect - not only does it offer the uninitiated and mildly "curious-about-those-weird-immigrants" the ability to peer into this book (focused on the middle class experience, of course) and walk away thinking "I understand them now," but it also gives them recipes to explore the people and their culture through the food! It's Like Water for Chocolate without the troublesome and complicated magical realism (i.e. literary ambition). Pradhan probably doesn't have that particular issue in the packaging (in all senses of the word) of her story.

Haven't read it, but I expect the worst.  I can't believe Bantam is publishing this kind of crap.  No wonder the experimental writers, and most poets, are so bitter.  Hell, this thing was on the shelf, in a prominent place, in Target.  That's massive distribution.  

And though I haven't read it yet, it's likely crap.  Shoot me now.


S. Sengupta said...

Hmmmm...check out the author's guestbook on that website. You might want to read the book, THEN proceed to rip the author a new a-hole if you're still so inclined.

Rage said...

Eh. Not really convinced by the comments in the guestbook. Fair point to actually read the book, but I'm calling it a "cash-in product." I guess I'm being judgmental, but I've seen too much of this for too long to think otherwise. Mistress of Spices, anyone?

The Humanity Critic said...

Thats funny, I've noticed the same thing about gum companies..