Sex and the Library

She writes like Jacqueline Susann with a talent implant. She looks like Marla Maples with a few breakfasts at Tiffany's under her Dolce & Gabbana belt. And she sounds strikingly similar to the characters she creates -- smart-mouthed and just a little bit whiny.

Meet Candace Bushnell, literary sensation in the Bret Easton Ellis mode: She's the originator of the erstwhile New York Observer column and book that spawned the hit HBO series Sex and the City. Now on tour promoting her newly released novel, 4 Blondes, she was decidedly not thrilled during a recent phone interview.

"It's one of the drawbacks to any sort of media attention. I have no time!" she said from her Manhattan apartment. "I have to get up at 6 a.m., and I can't stay up late and go out with my friends. It's really a bummer. I love my fun."

An upcoming tour stop brings Bushnell to a cocktail reception and book signing that marks the first author appearance hosted by Books & Banter, the new, young-professionals society of the Broward Public Library Foundation. Not bad, considering she's one of the few writers in the known world to have appeared at the VH1 Fashion Awards with ex­Red Hot Chili Peppers/Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. So isn't a library the last place you'd expect to find a woman who has made a religion of nightlife since she discovered it during her late teens at Manhattan's Studio 54? "I haven't actually been in a library for 15 years," confessed the fortyish Connecticut native.

Nor would you find among the stacks most of Bushnell's characters, women obsessed with money, power, and status.

And sex?

"I really don't write about sex," she said. "The TV series is much more focused on sex than the book was."

Well, maybe. In 4 Blondes Bushnell examines the mating habits of a group of women hell-bent on proving that even the most fabulous can't escape disillusionment. Model Janey finagles rent-free houses in the Hamptons from her lovers, then realizes she can't buy the guys themselves. Winnie, a magazine columnist, questions her devotion to her literary-journalist husband when his career can't catch up with her fantasies. Cecelia snares a minorly royal husband and winds up paranoid about all the media attention. And finally, an unnamed (and autobiographical?) American writer flees to London, finding out that the commitment-impaired men of New York are not so bad compared to the typical Englishman, "... a guy who has sex with his socks on, possesses a microscopic willy, and came in two minutes."

Within the confines of her Chateau Latour­imbibing universe, Bushnell is an arch and exacting commentator, and it's a skill she doesn't hesitate to direct toward herself.

"I've always had an interest in writing children's books," she said with disarming frankness. "Sometimes I think I've ended up writing children's books for adults."

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D.B. Tipmore