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It doesn't take Lancaster long to live up to her lengthy subtitle ("Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass, or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office"): in just one chapter, she gloats over cheating a homeless man, is rude to a waitress and passes judgment on all of her co-workers (including her "whore" best friend). She's almost gleeful about lacking "the internal firewall that keeps us from saying almost everything we think," but she doesn't come off as straightforward, just malicious. (Of course, it's possible she's making up much of her dialogue, which is a little too clever to be believable.) Lancaster expects sympathy for her downward slide after getting fired from her high-paying finance job in the post-9/11 recession, and chick lit fans may be entertained watching life imitate fiction, but just when you start to feel sorry for her, the snotty attitude returns. In later chapters, Lancaster increasingly relies on entries from her blog (www.jennsylvania. com) and caustic replies to criticisms, and though things start looking up—her husband finds a job, she lands a book deal—it's not clear that she's been as chastised by her experiences as she claims. (Mar. 7)
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Jen Lancaster is the author of Bitter is the New Black. She has lived in Chicago for ten years with her husband and pets, and has yet to get the hang of the subway or returning library books in a timely manner. Visit www.jennsylvania.com