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~Coffee and Kung Fu~

by Karen Brichoux

      Heroine: Average

    Copy editor Nicci Bradford is trying to maintain her sanity in a lonely world.  But it's difficult to do when she's busy accidentally supplying the comic relief in the movie of her own life and navigating through a tricky maze of interpersonal relationships with friends, family and coworkers. 

       Fortunately Nicci has a guru of sorts to see her through the worst of times.  Whenever she encounters a sticky situation, she simply reflects back on her vast Jackie Chan movie collection and brings up a pearl of wisdom to apply to the problem. And when the going gets really rough, Nicci pops a Jackie Chan flick into the VCR, peels the lid off of a can of Pringles, and flops down onto her futon couch fully prepared to absorb still more wisdom of the ages, as well as a little fat and sodium.

       But what should Nicci do when she runs into an issue that Jackie has no answer for?  Say, physically running down an extremely handsome, rich, funny and available business client in the hallway at work?  One who wants to take an embarrassed yet intrigued Nicci to dinner--against company policy?

      What worked for me:

      The politically, religiously, and culturally cynical Nicci really resonated with me.  I enjoyed eavesdropping on her thoughts as she tried to make sense of a seemingly senseless world.

      The author used a soft touch when including some deep subjects in an otherwise light story.  It made for a good balance: I didn't feel like I was smothering in fluff, but I wasn't completely dragged down either. (Well, except for those two crying jags.  But I didn't stay down after I reached the end of the story, and that's what counts with me.)

      As a kung fu flick widow I can proudly say that I recognized every Jackie movie mentioned in the story. Frankly, I thought that the film references presented a fascinating way to compare the two cultures which have shaped the main character. (If you are interested in East/West cultural contrasts of this sort, look into the love story "Iron and Silk".  Though I haven't yet read it I imagine the book is wonderful.  However, I can vouchsafe for the fact that the movie is absolutely breathtaking.  It goes without saying that you can't capture the martial art of Wu Shu in words the way you can on film.)

     Size-wise Nicci was your everyday girl next-door, complete with cellulite, which  she didn't think too much about except when she was required to wear a clingy dress.

What didn't work for me:    

       Nicci is just like any other friend for whom you can see better than she can the choices she ought to make for herself.  This is as uncomfortable to deal with in fiction as it is in reality.  My fingernails are now all at least a quarter of an inch shorter than when I began reading this book.

Overall:

       With its witty, wonderful prose and a heroine worth rooting for, "Coffee and Kung Fu" is ushering in a new trend in the Chick Lit genre: edgy without setting your teeth on edge.  Be sure to pop it in your beach bag this summer!

       Warning: there are some coarse words, spicy sexual moments, a brief reference to abortion, and a risk of staying up all night sucking down this story, which may in turn result in your needing at least 6 cups of real joe to stay awake the next day.

If you liked "Coffee and Kung Fu" you might also enjoy "Love at Large", "What a Girl Wants", "Blushing Pink", "Getting Over It", "Bridget Jones's Diary", "Good in Bed", "Last Chance Saloon", "Jemima J." and "Having It and Eating It".

Have you read this book and have a comment to make on it? Join a discussion about the book at the Dangerous Curves forum or submit a review to this website

 

Good-bye, Mom.

I love you and will miss you forever.

 

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