She showed up in my mailbox one bright and cold winter morning. Stumbling from my front door to the mailbox I was surprised to find a package from Simon and Shuster. I wasn’t expecting anything. Not even waiting to go back into the warmth of my house, I tore open the envelope and stared at a book I would have never bought for myself in a million years.
WTF? Snooki? I wasn’t even exactly sure who the heck Snooki was. I mean, I had heard rumblings of a Snooki on the peripheries of my cultural radar, but, for the most part, I’d much rather have SARS then actually watch reality TV. Snooki was alien to me. Something I didn’t know about and something I didn’t care to know about. Walking into my office I threw the book onto a table and went about my business.
However, as the week went on something strange happened. The Snooki book began to taunt me. There was just something about the cover. Whoever put together that cover was a genius. A mother freakin’ genius using the power of semiotics (a concept I am sure that Snooki does not understand) to seduce me every time I walked through the room. Borrowing from the famous “Kilroy was here” image, Snooki’s big eyes and even bigger “poof” seemed to stare at me every time I passed by, as if it was pleading to me to pick it up. Eventually I had to give in. Dropping everything I was doing I sat in my chair, turned on my reading lamp, picked up the Snooki book and began to read. Little did I know that it would start a love affair that I don’t understand, nor do I even really care to admit.
A Shore Thing by Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, the breakout star of the MTV guilty pleasure Jersey Shore, is not a biography and it is not a tell all. Instead it is a fictional novel based heavily on her own experiences on the Jersey Shore and in the night club scene. Do I believe she actually wrote it? Absolutely not. But then Snooki even admits that she didn’t write it right in the first page when, in the Acknowledgements, she thanks Valerie Frankle who “helped her translate her ideas to the page.” Do I believe that Snooki plotted the book? Most likely. I can almost see Snooki calling Valerie Frankle late at night on that silly duck phone, coming home sloshed from the bars and exclaiming “OMG Val! You wouldn’t believe what happened tonight at Klutch. We totally need to use that in the book!”
Just as you wouldn’t watch Jersey Shore in search for quality television, you don’t read A Shore Thing in search for a literary masterpiece. Both are the extreme example of the meaning “guilty pleasure.” A Shore Thing is the story of two cousins who spend the summer at the Jersey Shore in search for love and to find a sense of self. Bella is a nice sensible girl who just got out of a horribly possessive relationship and takes a job at a health spa as a personal trainer. Gia is a party girl who can’t seem to find any luck in love and works at a tanning salon. Both Bella and Gia are, in fact, different sides to the enigmatic and vibrant Snooki’s own personality. There are good guys and there are bad guys as the girls hook up, break up, fight, make up, get used, get redemption, support and look out for one another and, eventually, find love. There are few surprises on how the book is going to end. Within the first hundred pages you pretty much have it all figured out, but something compels you to keep reading. You want to see the story unfold before you, even if you’ve already predetermined the ending. The story is simple, but enjoyable. The characters are two dimensional, but likeable. In a sense, the book embodies Jersey Shore itself. It’s like reading a series of episodes, but with an all different cast made up of the same archetypes from the show. Snookis and Situations and Ronnies and JWowws slip in and out of the pages from one chapter to the next as Bella and Gia have their own summer adventure on the Jersey Shore.
But want to know what the most powerful thing about A Shore Thing is? As a marketing tool for Jersey Shore, as well as Snooki, it 100% works. As I continued to read the book, I knew in order to understand what I was reading I must understand the inspiration behind the book. As a result I got my hands on a couple of episodes of Jersey Shore, just to see what it was all about. If for no other reason, then to understand this phenomenon known as Snooki. After two episodes I was hooked. Me. The man who has called reality television the plague that nearly killed television in the first decade of this century, was caught up on the adventures of everybody’s favorite Guido and Guidettes within a matter of weeks. I wanted to hang with Pauly D, get in a bar fight with JWoww, be pals with Ronnie, fist pump with Vinny, smoosh with Sammi and run The Situation down in my car. But best of all there is Snooki. Loud, annoying, tacky, klutzy and loveable little Snooki. You want to know what is so endearing about Snooki? She’s like that crazy kid sister that you want to take care of because she can’t take care of herself. She isn’t smart or sexy, but what she lacks in brains or looks she makes up in spunk. Snooki is a loveable little dynamo of natural charisma. Sure, she can be annoying and I wouldn’t want to live with her (I probably even wouldn’t want to hang out with her), but gosh darn it I would take a punch for her. I don’t understand it, but Snooki has captured a small piece of my heart.
Thus lays the power of A Shore Thing. A Shore Thing made a Snooki skeptic into a Snooki fan. It kicked me off of my high horse, and brought me slumming on the Jersey Shore. It gave me a guilty pleasure which I can discuss with people who don’t understand the classic cinema and grindhouse films that I love so much. It had me shopping on-line for a “WWSD (What Would Snooki Do)” t-shirt. It brought Snooki into my life, whether I wanted it or not. But you know what? I guess its alright. Everybody needs a bit of Snooki sometimes. It may not be classic literature, but A Shore Thing is a fun little read and, like it or not, you know you want to buy it. Every time you walk into a book store and you see Snooki’s big eyes pleading to you from the cover, a part of you is hit with that pang of curiosity and guilt. You have to face it. Until you allow your pretensions to break down and you read A Shore Thing you’re not going to be satisfied. You might as well get it over with and read the book. Give into your guilty pleasures. You know you want to. That Guido or Guidette inside of you is waiting to get out.
To order your own copy of A Shore Thing by Snooki click here.
POP CULTURE ADDICT NOTE: I’d like to thank Anneliese Grosfeld of Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me A Shore Thing, and the gift of Snooki….I think. Whatever the case, I owe you one. Thanks for reminding me that there is never any shame in having guilty pleasures and to be professional doesn’t mean that you have to be pretentious.