Is it sacrilegious to be ambivalent about a book by Jane Smiley? The multiple award winning author (Pulitzer, National Book Awards, to name 2) published Ten Days in the Hills this year. Echoing Boccaccio's The Decameron, this story takes place in Hollywood over the titular 10 days. Ten inter-related people gather at Max's house the day the United States invades Iraq in 2003. Max, a film director, lives with Elena, an author of self-help books. They are joined by, among others, their separate children, his ex-wife and mother-in-law and various friends. They spend the ten days talking, eating and having sex.
Not much happens in the story. You learn a bit about Hollywood and how a film may be conceived. There's a lot of name dropping, so that's kind of fun. But nothing happens here! The characters talk and argue about the war, about their relationships, and food. Period. They move locations to a producer's house. That's the action.
Except for the sex. There's lots of it. Not that I know much about The Decameron, but I suppose the sex is supposed to take the place of the bawdy stories the plague-avoiders told each other. Yet here it is too anatomically correct to be bawdy or even erotic. I guess this book is for Smiley fans only.