Jackie the 
Romper

Once upon a time, before the crossover era crept in, there were (broadly) two kinds of fiction on bookshelves.

By Sushmita Bose

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Published: Fri 30 Nov 2012, 9:55 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:34 AM

The classics — the front-runners and also-rans for literary prizes. And the genre categorised as pulp fiction — the lowbrow, easy-to-read offerings: essential reading matter at airport lounges and dotting the reading spaces of the somewhat vacuously-inclined.

It’s another matter, of course, that bestsellers usually cropped up from the more ‘non-cerebral’ lot; there was the instant 
gratification tag attached to them unlike the higher order that would accumulate brownie points (sales-wise) over decades to come.

So even though a lot of gravitas-laden bookworms consider pulp fiction artist Jackie Collins a non-writer, the woman who, at age 75, still looks like a million bucks, has had a half-a-billion copies 
sold worldwide. Collins’ books fly off the shelves as soon as they are released in the market and are regarded riveting — in the instant gratification sense and in lowest common denominator terms.

I have read her (rather lurid) Hollywood Husbands and Hollywood Wives voraciously — not just because they are an undignified measure of the public pulse, but also because Jackie maps tabloid-style personas with a characteristically unpretentious flair. She makes no bones about 
being ‘literary’ (if you’re not into her kind of stuff, you’ll know instantly — so simply shut the book instead of droning on about dumbing down of fiction). Her writing is easy: short, simple sentences embellished with irresistible lifestyle details of the 
rich and the famous. And yes, with her vantage-point view into the glamour world (a lot of it courtesy Hollywood and its ancillary feed-offs), she revels in being the original Gossip Girl.

As a Jackie Collins’ ‘fan’ (and I’m not hanging my head in shame), I was keen to lay my hands on her latest book, The Power Trip. Having got my way, I finished the 500-odd pager in a day — and there was no amount of speed-reading involved because Jackie was, not unsurprisingly, unputdownable.

I thought the worst part about the book was its title. It immediately brings to mind politicking and grandstanding, it’s really not about that.

A Russian billionaire businessman wants to indulge his supermo-del girlfriend on her birthday, so gets tog-ether 
a five ‘power couples’ (I put that in intentionally because I, somehow, want to mete out poetic justice to the title): a 
US Senator and his copybook (perfect) wife; an ageing Hollywood star and his soon-to-be-dumped girlfriend; an English soccer star and his sort-of-gold-digging spouse; a hard-hitting journalist and his ‘platonic’ Asian (and socialist/idealist) friend; a Latino singing sensation and his same-sex architect partner.

All of them get on board a luxurious, customised-to-perfection yacht and set sail on a weeklong cruise across the glimmering waters of the Sea of Cortez. What begins as a feel-good experiment soon becomes a push-and-pull play of dark secrets and hidden agendas; sexual indiscretions and murderous intrigue. There is also the parallel track narrative of a vengeful gangster who has a score to settle with a few people on the cruise — and it subsequently gets 
factored into the denouement.

The characterisations are at times 
outrageous (but then, if you track the tabloid life you’d probably know that ‘outrageous’ is far more ubiquitous that you thought it would be), the raunchiness true to Jackie’s style, the racy twists and turns very hairpin drive-like… and the attention to designer details as usual compelling.

The Power Trip’s ending trips out into the zeitgeist of a Hollywood potboiler (mostly predictable — what else did you expect? — but packing in a couple of surprise punches as well); however, that’s reason for more joy: a television mini-series will, no doubt, be commissioned soon.

sushmita@khaleejtimes.com



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