Saturday, March 8, 2014
By CHRIS BARTON / Los Angeles Times
(Continued from page 1)
But "The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets" tilts on Winnie's strength. In her, Wagman has constructed a magnetic figure who is easy to root for whether she is fighting to escape or bitterly recalling her ex-husband's honeymoon, wondering, "Was there really a place called Bora Bora, or was it just a euphemism for ecstatic sex?" The book also benefits from breathless pace and a dialogue-heavy structure that hints at Wagman's screenwriting experience and keeps the pages turning.
Of course, to paraphrase Chekhov, if you introduce a big iguana in Act 1, it had better go off at some point, and Cookie is a pivotal player in Winnie's struggle. As is Los Angeles -- whether reflected in the raw-nerved struggles of a famous ex or Winnie's wreck of an ex-actress mother, the city and its proximity to celebrity remain within frame.
"Every idiot with a cat on YouTube is famous," Oren spits when Winnie attempts to bargain for her release with a promise of a shot at fame.
Eventually that same promise gets turned back toward Winnie, and while doors may open for people (and their pets) to escape from captivity, ultimately they can only be who they are. And sometimes that's enough.