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Former journalist Klaffke's debut is a delicious guilty pleasure full of hilarious, irreverent moments in the declining career of a glossy mag gal. Sixteen years after founding the snarky Snap magazine on a shoestring budget, editor Sara B. has grown the scrappy zine into one of Canada's biggest weekly glossies, spawning three boutiques, a “Trend Mecca Boot Camp Weekend” and a slew of imitators. Though Sara enjoys her role as arbiter of good taste—the mag's most popular feature is her Dos and Don'ts page—she's overwhelmed by the magazine's success and having suspicions that she may be a narcissistic jerk. Furthermore, at 39, she's beginning to question the validity of a career that involves making fun of people for a living, and she's even having trouble telling the Dos from the Don'ts—a fact hammered home by her stylish young assistant. Although Sara's runaway imagination takes a few turns for the disturbing and she lucks into too many fortunate turns, her character arc and eventual shot at redemption make for absorbing reading. A dark, comic absurdity peppers every page of this sarcastic romp.

Sara has the job that most women would kill for. As one of the founding members of the unquestionably cool underground magazine Snap, her dos-and-don’ts fashion photo column is a must-read for urban hipsters. But as she ages and as the fashions reach new heights of bizarreness, Sara begins to doubt her editorial eye and lose her confidence. Throw in a drinking problem, a relationship on the rocks, friends that are outgrowing her, and a very eager new assistant with a threateningly cool grasp on fashion, and Sara is heading for a breakdown. Klaffke, author of Spree: A Cultural History of Shopping (2003), turns to fiction to explore the idea of who decides what is cool and, more important, why we listen to them. Sara is a flawed hero whose actions and motives are questionable and often reprehensible. And yet we can’t help but root for her as she realizes that while she has spent her life judging other people, it is her own life that needs the makeover.
—Claire Orphan

Profane, painfully honest and savagely funny, Klaffke’s debut novel is a coming-of-middle-age story sure to evoke terror in the under-40 set and reminiscent smiles in those who have already crossed over.

SUMMARY: Sara B has made a name for herself taking photos of the stylish and tragically unhip—which are published as Dos and Don’ts in Snap, the trendy magazine she founded with her friend Ted 15 years ago. Now she’s coasting, enjoying an affair with her slightly younger lover, Jack, and disinclined to take anything too seriously—except for her upcoming 40th birthday.

Hiring Eva, a young woman she meets by chance, as her assistant seems like a good idea at the time, but it’s the beginning of the end of life as Sara knows it. Everything and everyone—Jack, her friends, her job—all seem to be changing at the speed of light, and not only can Sara not keep up, she isn’t even sure she wants to!
—Catherine Whitmer


As a co-founder of Snap magazine, Sara has spent her entire career ripping apart urban fashionitas in her legendary column. Then she hires over-ambitious Eva as her assistant and things don’t exactly go to plan. This is a full-on stylefest, smothered in sauciness.

FOUR STARS          
Style icon Sara B. established Snap magazine and is infamous for her brutal Dos and Don’ts in her “best and worst dressed” column. But when she makes a bad call, she realizes her put-downs could come back to haunt her, and descends into a nicotine-and-drink-fuelled meltdown. A darkly funny and hugely enjoyable read.

When it comes to the world of fashion, there is nobody quite like Sara B. Having created Snap magazine in the 1990s, she has become one of the leading voices on style and everyone wants to be seen on her pages. But after taking on a new assistant, Eve [sic], she begins to question her life. Things start going downhill and Sara is no longer in control in this debut novel.

Sara B. is famous for her photos that name and shame the best and worst dressed for a magazine. But it all begins to unravel in the darkly humorous Snapped by Pamela Klaffke.

When a Mean Girl Grows Up
Sara B. has made her minor fame and small fortune from snapping photos of Montreal hipsters and nerds for the last fifteen years for her publication ‘Snap’. Ted, who is her business partner and one time only lover, is married to her best friend Gen who was a late 80’s singing sensation whose fame might be getting another fifteen minutes after her reality show debuts. John is her boyfriend and nine years younger than her…they also have an arrangement that they can have sex with others as long as the ‘others’ aren’t dates. She is chugging along with life, fretting over her approaching 40th birthday and holding others in contempt especially hipster saints like the girl in the restaurant/bar who has a parrot on her shoulder.

In the opening chapter, Sara is contemplating how the parrot girl’s outfit must have taken her some time to choose so that it has just the right elements of new mixed with the current retro passion. Because the woman has a parrot, Sara thinks she is trying too hard and although technically she could be a ‘Do’, Sara wants to label her a ‘Don’t’ because people who go out in public with parrots should be punished. She takes her Polaroid of the girl, even has her sign a release form, and is very satisfied with herself for being parrot proactive when another girl named Eva comes by…

I was on my second hour of reading this book when I figured that it was based, at least in part, on 'All About Eve'. Eva becomes Sara’s assistant and before anyone knows it, least of all Sara, Eva is contributing to 'Snap' and has a lot of nifty ideas that she wants to pass along. Of course Sara doesn’t notice as much because she is too busy drinking and trying to figure out why she doesn’t feel fulfilled anymore from making sport of others.

I’ll cut to the chase and say that I loved ‘Snapped’ although as I’m rereading my first few paragraphs of this review, I realize that the protagonist isn’t the most likeable of individuals on paper, yet I assure you Pamela Klaffke’s sparkling writing makes her more palpable. Sara is going through a mid-life crisis and Klaffke makes some hilarious observations.

“Free,” I say. Like that explains anything. I think I may be retarded today, but I know enough to know I can’t say that because this isn’t junior high and when Ted and I called everything gay and retarded and we called each other gaylord and retard. You can’t say that unless you created South Park and you’re saying it through those animated kids that are surprisingly still funny, because you never know who’s gay or has a retard in their family. (page 29)

I tell her I don’t care who’s a DO and who’s a DON’T – I expect this to shock her, my biggest reveal – but the moment I say it aloud I want to crawl out of the room, down the steps and into the night. I’ll travel through alleyways and low-traffic side streets, I’ll forage behind Dumpsters and befriend raccoons. I’ll learn their ways and their customs. A young girl will find me and coax me to her backyard, where she’ll feed me berries from the trees and leftover steak she smuggles out of her house. We’ll be secret friends and I’ll never have to talk because she’ll think I’m a raccoon. But this will not have a happy ending. The girl will grow up and she’ll tell someone – a boyfriend – about me and he’ll tell someone else and soon there’s a documentary crew and a book deal and a reporter from Vanity Fair living with me in the corner of the girl’s backyard. It’s no longer quiet and I have no choice but to speak just to tell them to all to shut up. Then the girl figures out that I’m not a raccoon and we’re no longer friends. (pages 94-95)

The remedy to her ennui is that she has to grow up, which is exactly what her now suburban based business partner yells at her after she commits a faux pas of snapping his surgically breast enhanced neighbors at his son’s one year birthday party. Sara thinks it is hysterical, but she was encouraged by Eva to do it. Eva and Ted have some secrets of their own.

‘Snapped’ had me laughing and wondering what was going to happen next – which is a nice change of pace in comparison to most chick lits (although many of them are humorous, you usually know the way the who, what, and why within the first ten pages). It was nice to read a book geared towards a female audience that had the character questioning her life on all levels despite achieving success. At times, I thought the book was too negative in its observations, but Klaffke’s writing was so brilliant that I learned to forgive.

With that being said, there are a few superficial things that work against this book – mainly the cover. I have been reading chick lit for quite some time, and probably read more of it than the average Mama bear, thus when I picked up the book I thought it was supposed to appeal to a younger demographic than the back of the book synopsis would otherwise indicate. Beyond all else, I was also a tad confused by the constant use of Polaroid cameras since the company hasn’t been selling film since February 2008. Otherwise, I would recommend this book for a winter giggle or for a summer read. The passages dedicated to Sara’s potential mutant baby are worth the retail price alone.
— Lisa Westerfield

literary rights queries: contact carolyn swayze or kris rothstein at reception@swayzeagency.com

film/television rights queries: contact karen powell at karen@perfect-circle.ca





  ©2011 pamela klaffke