Thursday, August 02, 2007

Portrait of Her


by Ellen P. Bloomenstein
(iUniverse / 0-595-38747-2 / February 2007 / 327 pages / $19.95)

The cover of Ellen P. Bloomenstein’s Portrait of Her invites the reader into a delicate world of introspection, romance, and relationships. The storyline and personal point of view present the lead character in a sort of Woody Allen state of mind. There is an endless questioning of actions and the motives for them. The NYC backdrop is certainly similar to those of Woody’s most famous films. It’s difficult not to see mental images of Sex and the City and Seinfeld, too, when reading Ms. Bloomenstein’s tale of tempestuous love affairs and inquisitive neuroses. Ellen Bloomenstein knows her angst in New York subject matter so thoroughly that the reader wonders how much of Portrait of Her is really an autobiographical Portrait of Ellen. There is little doubt the author has Woody Allen’s talent and persona wrapped in a cloak suitable for the current millennium.

Alas, there is a problem in The Big Apple. Ellen’s rather recent Masters Degree in Creative Writing seems to have blinded her common sense a bit. Behind the alluring cover await multiple fonts such as Courier and Times New Roman intertwined with bold, italics, all-caps, and mixtures of various type sizes. Accented words have letters spaced across the page, without notice of properly utilized line breaks. When a character is angry, the words are repeated endlessly, generally without the basic necessity of punctuation. There is no doubt that Ms. Bloomenstein used her creative writing degree to show off her imagination on purpose. Unfortunately, the result is a book that is very difficult to read. How can this be a good thing, especially for a new, unknown author?

Enough complaining, already! Is Portrait of Her worth reading, or not? Well, it certainly is not the worst book I have reviewed on this blog, but I doubt that it will score very highly on your satisfied reader scale unless your name is, like, Heather or Britney. Ellen Bloomenstein is clearly intelligent, but misguided in her overuse of fonts, footnotes, repetitions, and other conceits. Her true writing talent filters through the cracks, anyway. The world could use some fresh chicklit. The Sex and the City reruns are growing tiresome. Woody has already tossed his bananas. There’s always room for Jell-O.

See also: Tabitha's B&N Review

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