The Internet, and Twitter in particular, can be a wild breast. Ostensibly used as a means to connect with the world unencumbered by borders, small statements of 140 characters are used to in an attempt to convey (sometimes) big ideas. Historically, written technologies have been important in the establishment and maintenance of empires and have had different consequences for the control of time and space. Globalisation has seen the need for different individuals to be connected for both public and private reasons and tools such as the Internet and Twitter have become a conduit for that social change. One particular social change includes the democratisation of many constructs of industry, including celebrity.
Which brings me to Molly Ringwald (of course!). I started following Ringwald on Twitter a few years ago for the usual reasons – voyeurism and an insatiable curiosity for all things celebrity. What I discovered was not the banal musings of the former teen crush of many a Gen X-er, but a witty, creative and clever individual that has used the medium to share her life and perspective of the world in a fun and interesting way. While following Ringwald on Twitter I discovered that the actress is also an author and a jazz singer as well as a wife and mother. I read her novel When It Happens To You a couple of years ago.
Ringwald describes When It Happens To You as a ‘novel in stories’. This is an apt way of describing the tome as seemingly unconnected vignettes are soon unravelled to be inextricably interconnected. Protagonists Greta and Phillip grapple with an unhappy marriage mired by infidelity. A marriage break-down and familial discord are not unfamiliar themes in modern literature, but Ringwald supplies a particular emotional voice to her characters that is unique and engaging.
When It Happens To You does not have the grit of an Emile Zola novel or the exquisite prose of contemporary Hannah Kent. Nor does it possess the uniqueness of a plot such as Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. But it’s an uncomplicated and undemanding summer read that has characters that are familiar to everybody. And hey, it’s by Molly Ringwald.