Review: Jennifer Love Hewitt Times Infinity by Kevin Fanning

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date Read: May 11 to 14, 2015
Read Count: 1
Recommended by: found during a bout of spring cleaning
Recommended for: people who like quirky stories

Interesting concept, nice prose. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant.

This collection of short–really short–stories isn’t actually about Jennifer Love Hewitt the actress, but in my opinion, what she could have represented had she turned out to be more famous and/or had more pull in the entertainment industry. Things didn’t quite work out that way for her career, but this book imagines they did. It imagines her as an important cultural icon who’s deeply embedded in our collective consciousness, and for that, I will shelve it as “fantasy.” Kidding.

As you might assume from the title, it’s all about about JLH, but…not really. It’s all about her in the sense that each story features a character called JLH and everything is told from her POV. These stories explore a variety of things, but they’re mostly focused on entertainment, fame, technology, interpersonal relationships, mythology (or rather how we weave mythology), and generally how we shape our lives and how we make sense of them. Which I think is interesting.

The writing would have been just fine without the JLH gimmick. I might have enjoyed it more without the gimmick. But I suppose Kevin Fanning had to do something to set his work apart from other writers who were also experimenting with similar themes and ideas. To me, though, having JLH as the common thread that ties the stories together actually makes the whole collection seem dated, and not in a good way, not unlike the actress herself. All while I was reading I kept thinking about I Know What You Did Last Summer, which led to me trying to recall when it first came out in theaters–it was 18 years ago.

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Has it really been that long? Kids born in 1997 are graduating from high school right this minute. Where has the time gone.

I’ll be honest here. I don’t get this JLH gimmick. I mean, I understand the idea behind it and what Fanning did with it, but I don’t see the point of it. Like, why pick a middling actress with a barely remembered career (who has, arguably, no impact on shaping our modern mythologies at all)? Because Fanning likes the sound of her name? Because Fanning wants to make everyone (or me specifically) remember I Know What You Did Last Summer and in turn remind them (me) how much time has gone by (and/or how much older we’ve all gotten since the movie’s release)?

Not ironically, I don’t remember how I came to own this quirky little chapbook. It was probably a gift from awhile ago. I’d probably meant to read it shortly after receiving it. Maybe back then it would have meant something. Now, though, it’s just another reminder of how much time has passed.

 

[ETA] So why JLH, is what people want to know

A friend from book club, Jules, said something interesting yesterday. He asked, “Why not someone more famous? Why not Tom Cruise?”

Then someone else, Emmy, from a different book club who’d overheard our talk said, “Tom Cruise Times Infinity…??”

And all three of us were silent as we pondered the very idea of an infinite number of Tom Cruises.

Jules and I simultaneously had a mother-of-god moment.

Then Emmy said, “See what I mean? Isn’t one Tom Cruise already too much?”

She’s got a point.

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