The Other Anne Fletcher by Susanne Jaffe
Anne Fletcher is a pretty, Upper East Side ""juvenile books editor who screwed too many men from lack of wanting a future with any of them""; she's a frustrated would-be writer and thoroughly unpleasant. Anne N. Fletcher, on the other hand, is a less pretty, but well-paid Upper East Side magazine writer whose first novel has just been sold. And eventually it becomes clear (it takes a while because Jaffe confusingly omits Anne N.'s middle initial most of the time) that Anne is getting obsessed with Anne N.--especially when she gets Anne N.'s mail and when Anne's lawyer-lover Arthur coincidentally starts dating Anne N. (Arthur hardly seems a catch, with his beige pigskin blazer and his fatuous repartee, but the Annes both seem to think he's neat.) So envious Anne becomes more bonkers page by page--having her hair cut like Anne N.'s, pretending to be Anne N., making breather phone-calls to Anne N.--while Anne N. starts to tremble, gothic-style. And things only get worse once the two meet at the party for Anne N.'s new book: Anne vows to destroy Anne N. Ã la Gaslight; she sends phony letters to Arthur and to Anne N.'s publisher; she even cancels Anne N.'s restaurant reservations. (Now that's nasty.) By this time, Anne N. is trembling like crazy, of course, but Arthur just thinks she's neurotic--till he realizes that Anne is the culprit and resolves to trap her into confessing. Before that can happen, however, there's an Anne/Anne showdown in a health-club whirlpool, with bad Anne getting fatal punishment. . . . As a short-story by a trim, ironic writer like Ruth Rendell, the simplistic psycho-premise here might have worked quite nicely. Jaffe, unfortunately, stretches it out humorlessly--with Anne's vicious ravings (which only highlight the psychological flimsiness), with dreary chatter, and with glops of terrible writing from the visceral school (quivering scalps, vibrating nerves, prickling flesh, bolts of pain, vises of anguish, etc., etc.). Only for the undemanding psycho-gothic audience, then, with perhaps a smidgin of extra appeal in the publishing-world background (which is done so much better in Rinzler's The Girl Who Got All the Breaks, p. 533).