55 books read in 2007?
|Letters to a Young Poet
||Rainer Maria Rilke
||I thought I was going to love this, but I didn't. That's my story.
||Not a particularly good book, though I wouldn't go so far as to say it's bad. I love Ann Patchett so I'm reading everything she's written, but this must be an early one. If you're looking to start, read Bel Canto or Truth & Beauty! Or both; they're very different.
|The Red Badge of Courage
||Finally read this. But did I finish it in January or February? I don't know.
|Forever In Blue
||Restoring my faith in Tom Robbins, yay! Loved it, though as it happens the bits I'll quote are actually him quoting others... first, Basho:
Here I am in Kyo again
and this from Alfred North Whitehead, via TR: "...the notion of life implies a certain absoluteness of self-enjoyment"
yet I am lonely for Kyo--
O bird of time!
|The History of Love
||Here's why this is my sort of book, in a very JS Foer / John Irving kind of way:
2. WHAT I AM NOT
I did not expect to love this book, but I sure did love it. I got a little lost within the labyrinth of story-within-story-within-story business, but I loved it. Now go read it.
My brother and I used to play a game. I'd point to a chair. "THIS IS NOT A CHAIR," I'd say. Bird would point to the table. "THIS IS NOT A TABLE." "THIS IS NOT A WALL," I'd say. "THAT IS NOT A CEILING." We'd go on like that. "IT IS NOT RAINING OUT." "MY SHOE IS NOT UNTIED!" Bird would yell. I'd point to my elbow. "THIS IS NOT A SCRAPE." Bird would lift his knee. "THIS IS ALSO NOT A SCRAPE!" "THAT IS NOT A KETTLE!" "NOT A CUP!" "NOT A SPOON!" "NOT DIRTY DISHES!" We denied whole rooms, years, weathers. Once, at the peak of our shouting, Bird took a deep breath. At the top of his lungs he shrieked: "I! HAVE NOT! BEEN! UNHAPPY! MY WHOLE! LIFE!" "But you're only seven," I said.
|Until I Find You
||I love John Irving. This isn't his best work, if you ask me. Which you did. (Though I am slightly obsessed with tattoos for the moment, as a result.)
|Four other stories
||The Open Boat, The Blue Hotel, The Upturned Face, and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
Whores for Gloria
||William T Vollmann
||This story was weird and fucked-up, but the one line that actually made me cry had nothing to do with anything; it was a footnote explaining the meaning of the slang phrase a "Polish Jew". He says, "this cynical name for a firecracker comes about, I presume, from the German days, because when you set fire to one it leaves the world with a harmless bang, scarely ever injuring its murderers."
The Tuesday Erotica Club
||Lisa Beth Kovetz
||This book could do with a better editor, but overall as chick-lit goes, this was great.
|A Tale of Two Cities
||Ok, I fully recognize that this may be one of the most ridiculous things I ever write, but: I can't believe how good this book was. I mean, we're talking Dickens, we're talking A Tale of Two Cities, we're talking about possibly the most famous first phrase of any book ever... I'm not an ass, clearly it's good. Still; I was unprepared. I hadn't realized that *both* the first line and the last line were famous and quotable. To be perfectly honest, I had no goddamn idea what the book was *about* before I read it - and had you told me: "French Revolution", I might have been again delayed in giving it my attention. Wow. What a weaving of a story, what an evocation of an epoch so far removed from my own that to move me to tears in describing it... What a buffet of characters to appear at one meal - some so rich and complex and at war within themselves, some so simple and caricatured but perfectly employed to illuminate their portion of humanity and human-ness. I didn't make myself a character chart on beginning this book, since it isn't Russian, but I allllmost could have used one, now and again. What a weaving of comings-and-goings of connected society, so like a Tolstoy or Pasternak. Wow. Where have I been?
|Bridge to Terabithia
||Yes, a re-read, since it's been probably twenty years since I first read it. Loved it again. Haven't seen the Disney movie yet.
|On A Pale Horse
||I sort of read this book when I was about 8 years old. My dad was reading it and left it in the bathroom, and I picked it up and decided I was going to read it. Sure, shrugged my parents, surely not thinking I'd *actually* read it. But I did, at least the beginning of it, because when I just re-read it last week, I remembered the whole first part very accurately. CRAZY.
Um, no, I don't particularly recommend it. But it caused me look up the word inchoate, which means: not yet completed or fully developed; rudimentary. Not organized; lacking order. Good to know.
||A. C. Ping
||(I read this 4/21/07) "The trick is choice, or freedom of choice to be precise. To be happy we have to feel that we are free to pursue the things we wish to pursue in life. Joy arises from following our passions, bitterness results from the lack of freedom. Happiness is about intention and believing that it's possible to change things."
|Before She Met Me
|The Art of Mending
||"As for mending, I think it's good to take the time to fix something rather than throw it away... You'll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there's an art to mending: If you're careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing because it is testimony to its worth."
|The Baron in the Trees
|The Fourth Hand
|Think A Second Time
||I know, who'd think I'd read this? I'm a little bit obsessed with the man, at this moment, after having met him at a party, and talked to him about the BBI, and seeing his face on billboards all over the Valley, and having just read his "debate" with Sam Harris on jewcy.com...
||"The anxiety of coupons."
"The light was the color of car sickness."
"''I'm wondering why we're having this particular conversation,' Chip said to his mother. 'Why this conversation and not some other conversation.'"
God, this book. I finally gave in and read it even after, as a review put it: "The Corrections has been delivered with a blizzard of media hype than can be off-putting to the very readers the publishers want to reach (people starved for serious, readable, intelligent fiction.)" (Funny, that "readable", after the debate? conversation? in Harper's magazine. God, I love that dialogue and pretending I know the first thing about it.) God, the way I am sometimes one of the people described in this article who wants books to be popular and get even a fraction of the media coverage of every asshole movie and then precisely because a book is well-lauded, starts to assume it can't be any good. Well, I've read this book and it's damn good and I am thrilled for a name like Jonathan Franzen's to be anything approximating popular. God, I love this conversation.
|Man Walks Into a Room
||"And what is a life, Samson wondered now, without a witness?"
I loved Nicole Krauss' History of Love so I read this earlier one. Not bad.
Max's thin hair had receded to a scraggly garland around his head, leaving the high dome of his scalp completely bald. The polished shine was extraordinary. The ears that in Max's younger days, when there was still enough hair to frame them, had merely stuck out as if registering dissatisfaction or a lively inner life, now shot out from both sides at an angle well over ninety degrees. They had hinged forward over the years, and while the rest of him had shrunk, the ears had grown in size to reach nothing short of prizewinning.
||Who's a funny fella? WP Kinsella.
||I admit it; I didn't get it at all.
|The Students Are Watching: Schools and the Moral Contract
||Theodore R. Sizer and Nancy Faust Sizer
||Summer reading for the teachers at a school where I work, not that I was able to attend the meeting to discuss the reading after the summer ended, of course... Page 10: "High schools have long had three core tasks: to prepare young people for the world of work; to prepare them to use their minds well, to think deeply and in an informed way; and to prepare them to be thoughtful citizens and decent human beings."
Page 73: "Challenge a student only a little and you will get small results. Challenge the same student appropriately but formally, and you will get much better results." I have no idea what the authors really intended by the particular words in those sentences, but it made me think of these sentences: "Challenge students only a little and you will get only a little bit of results. Challenge them big and you will get big results." I may need reminding of that; I've seen it in action a few times and forget it a lot.
|The Eyre Affair
||Like I could resist a book about which The Wall Street Journal said this: "Filled with clever wordplay, literary allusion and bibliowit, The Eyre Affair combines elements of Monty Python, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but its quirky charm is all its own." I mean, come on. They had me at "bibliowit". That's almost as good as "bookslut".
||This is a New Yorker book of cartoons. Does it count as a book that I've read?
|The Moon and Sixpence
||I LOVED reading this book. I copied down a ton of quotations, I read passages over again, I didn't want to stop reading. Um, why is it called the moon and sixpence, though?
p35: If you will be so good as to turn your head slightly to the left, you will see the door. I wish you good-afternoon.
p30: Colonel MacAndrew says about Strickland: "He'd better not let me catch sight of him. I'd thrash him within an inch of his life."
"I could not help thinking that Colonel MacAndrew might have some difficulty in doing this, since Strickland had struck me as a hefty fellow, but I did not say anything. It is always distressing when outraged morality does not possess the strength of arm to administer direct chastisement on the sinner."
p39: "I made up my mind to see Strickland the following evening, for I felt instinctively that the hour must be chosen with delicacy. An appeal to the emotions is little likely to be effectual before luncheon. My own thoughts were then constantly occupied with love, but I never could imagine connubial bliss till after tea."
p40: "But you're forty." "That's what made me think it was high time to begin."
p119: "...but one of the falsest of proverbs is that you must lie on the bed that you have made. The experience of life shows that people are constantly doing things which must lead to disaster, and yet by some chance manage to evade the result of their folly."
p157: "He made one laugh sometimes by speaking the truth, but this is a form of humour which gains its force only by its unusualness; it would cease to amuse if it were commonly practised."
I learned a couple of words; they're on my words page, which is kind of a mess.
...He was independent of the opinion of his fellows.
And it was just that which had most disconcerted me in my dealings with him. When people say they do not care what others think of them, for the most part they deceive themselves. Generally they mean only that they will do as they choose, in the confidence that no one will know their vagaries; and at the utmost only that they are willing to act contrary to the opinion of the majority because they are supported by the approval of their neighbours. It is not difficult to be unconventional in the eyes of the world when your unconventionality is but the convention of your set. It affords you then an inordinate amount of self-esteem. You have the self-satisfaction of courage without the inconvenience of danger. But the desire for approbation is perhaps the most deeply seated instinct of civilised man. No one runs so hurriedly to the cover of respectability as the unconventional woman who has exposed herself to the slings and arrows of outraged propriety. I do not believe the people who tell me they do not care a row of pins for the opinion of their fellows. It is the bravado of ignorance. They mean only that they do not fear reproaches for peccadillos which they are convinced none will discover.
|The Final Solution
||Learned some words. If you're interested, look at my words page, which is still messy.
I really liked some passages:
It was the sort of city in which a man... might choose to pass the remainder of his days, listening to its song, as a young man fresh to Paris or Rome (or even, as he still dimly recalled, London) stood on a balcony, at the window of a bedsit, on the roof of a tenement house, listening to the rumble of traffic and the fanfare of horns, and feeling that he was hearing the music of his own mysterious destiny.
He patted himself up and down until filaments of honey floss formed between his fingertips and pockets, coating him in a gossamer down. The old man watched helpless as the boy, with mounting agitation, spun threads of loss from his palms and fingertips.
'Oh no, I...' Mr. Panicker began, but then found that he was unable to continue, his throat constricted and his eyes stung with the imminence of tears. There are times, as he well knew, when merely having our sorrow guessed at could itself be a kind of rude consolation.
Yeah, that last one. I have a friend at camp who can look at me a certain way and say, "Are you ok?" and I will immediately begin to cry, because she only asks when I'm indeed not ok and no one else can tell but her; and her being able to tell already begins to make it feel better.
I didn't like the illustrations all that much, even though I'm a big fan of art that uses letters and words as part of the picture. These were just weird. And, um, are whiskey and scotch the same thing??
|Broken For You
||I liked this a whole lot better than I expected, and I kind of BAWLED at the end. I think it could have used a better editor, overall, the kind of person who would grab whole chunks of the narrative and rearrange them, so that the flow of the book wasn't hundreds of pages of plodding and then a rushing at breakneck speed to fit in every plot device known to man (a baby! a wedding! a funeral! a parent-child reunion! All in the last two chapters!!).
A great phrase: "...walls so insistently pink that they looked as if they were flushed with a life-threatening reaction to shellfish." Perhaps I like it extra good because my mom is the one who gave the book to me and indeed, my mom has a life-threatening allergy to shellfish!
"The kiss started out the way she wanted--aggressive, muscular, businesslike; but he turned it into something else--a beach vacation, a Mediterranean cruise--and made it last much longer than she'd intended."
I guess I love metaphors like that, and by the way, why do they teach metaphors in school with such boring examples as "the clouds are pillows"? They (you know who They are, don't you?) should use passages like this one. Teens would get that.
p251: "What do you call someone who derives pleasure from the bread of affliction?" (I'll wait while you think about it... Jeff.) "A 'matzochist!'"
p271: "It's nothing like what you've lost, Irma. It's not worth talking about." "Loss is loss. Heartbreak is heartbreak. You think I'm sitting here gloating. Telling myself that my suffering beats yours? Hurt is hurt. You don't measure these things."
One or two new words.
| In the Beginning...was the Command Line
||Ready for this?
...during this century, intellectualism failed, and everyone knows it. In places like Russia and Germany, the common people agreed to loosen their grip on traditional folkways, mores, and religion, and let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abbatoir. Those wordy intellectuals used to be merely tedious; now they seem kind of dangerous as well.
We Americans are the only ones who didn't get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and values systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals, and with anything like intellectualism, even to the point of not reading books any more, though we are literate. We seem much more comfortable with propagating those values to future generations nonverbally, through a process of being steeped in media. Apparently this actually works to some degree, for police in many lands are now complaining that local arrestees are insisting on having their Miranda rights read to them, just like perps in American TV cop shows. When it's explained to them that they are in a different country, where those rights do not exist, they become outraged. Starsky and Hutch reruns, dubbed into diverse languages, may turn out, in the long run, to be a greater force for human rights than the Declaration of Independence.
|Writing down the Bones
||I have a signed copy of this given to me by Kat! Nu, am I gonna write or what?
Push yourself beyond when you think you are done with what you have to say. Go a little further. Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that's why we decide we're done. It's getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out. (page 103)
One chapter is called "Writing Marathons" and it's a very interesting idea for me. It's something like a four-hour exercise in which everyone agrees to a schedule like: you write for 30 minutes, then go around and read what you have written, with no comments from anyone. Then another 20 minutes writing, and a reading go-round. Wash, rinse, repeat, basically. I thought the most grabbing part of the description of this experience was this: "Not commenting on another person's work builds up a healthy desire to speak." I expect that if I were in this exercise, I'd be going crazy with things I wanted to say in response to other people's writing, and I'd be forced to write it down if I wanted to get it out and... wow. I can imagine feeling incredibly full up of things to write.
||I love this guy and his The Philosopher's Diet, but this "novel" SUCKED.
|Cakes and Ale
||W Somerset Maugham
I stifled a sigh. I have noticed that when I am most serious people are apt to laugh at me, and indeed when after a lapse of time I have read passages that I wrote from the fullness of my heart I have been tempted to laugh at myself. It must be that there is something naturally absurd in a sincere emotion, though why there should be I cannot imagine, unless it is that man, the ephemeral inhabitant of an insignificant planet, with all his pain and all his striving is but a jest in an eternal mind. (page 189)
|Literacy and Longing in L.A.
||Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
||Lots, obviously, that I could relate to. And lots I couldn't. I mean, the money and the clothes and the personal shopper and the surgical "procedures"? Not me.
Anyone want to go and discuss this book with me at the library? I didn't think so. Where are my book-geek friends??
|The New Yorker Book of Literary Cartoons
||Edited by Bob Mankoff
||Does this count as a book? Sort of...
|A Man Without A Country
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
Maybe I'll use this along with my choreography assignment instructions:
"Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break! (p98)
If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
|Words That Hurt, Words That Heal
||Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
||New Jew gave this to me and I thought it was very good. (Amazing how much Jewish philosophy and ethics I've been reading lately, isn't it?) It gave me a lot to think about and a lot to work on. We do say so many more unkind things than we need to say, but we can stop. I can stop. I learned some things: for example, I never knew that Lashon HaRa was truthful-but-negative things, as opposed to lies or any old kind of gossip. And here is my favorite part, from Ecclesiasticus:
"Have you heard something? Let it die with you. Be strong; it will not burst you." (19:10)
Yes, coming from Ms If-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say,-come-and-sit-by-me, you may be skeptical of this book reaching my heart. But it has, and I'm going to do better.
This poem, which may or may not have been written by Rabbi Jack Riemer, also struck me hard:
THINGS YOU DIDN'T DO
Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and dented it?
I thought you'd kill me -- you didn't.
And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain, and it did?
I thought you would say, "I told you so," -- but you didn't.
And remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous -- and you were?
I thought you'd leave me -- but you didn't.
And remember the time I spilled blueberry pie all over your brand new rug?
I thought you'd drop me for sure -- but you didn't ....
Yes, there are lots of things you didn't do,
But you put up with me, and you loved me and you protected me;
And there were so many things I wanted to make up to you when you returned from the war --
but you didn't.
|As A Driven Leaf
||Finally read it and totally loved it.
|I'm Not the New Me
||This is written by the girl who writes Pound and who found and annotated those hilarious Weight Watchers cards. SO damn funny. The book was great, especially if you happen to be all obsessed with a) blogging b) weight loss and c) dating. Hello, my life.
|A Civil Action
||I can't believe how fantastically wonderful this book is. And it's non-fiction. I'm nuts for non-fiction that reads so much like fiction. And it's pretty fantastic to almost know someone in it; I can't remember actually meeting "Billion-Dollar" Charlie Nesson, but I know his daughter and I have fantastic memories of his house - I've referred to it as my dream house for years - and they mention the house itself in the book... twice! Ah, our little brushes with greatness. No, seriously, read this book.
||I went to see Ann Patchett read from this book and it was loooooovely! First of all, Ann herself was absolutely lovely, self-assured and comfortable and sweet and funny and quick and incredibly likeable. She walked into the reading room a few minutes before she was scheduled to start and announced that she might as well sign some books right then, so the wait wouldn't be as long afterward. People immediately start to grab their books and get up from their chairs to go to the table, but she quickly waved her hands: "No, that's ok, I'll come to you." And she spent the next five minutes or so walking around the room, perching on empty chairs and signing books, until it was time to begin.
I was pretty amazed at how many stories she told. First she just talked, and her little anecdotes were very nicely contained short stories, and then later when people asked questions, her answers were also nicely-packaged little gifts. [More on this here.]
|Exile and The Kingdom
||I love Camus and I really love this from McSweeneys. And I love how Camus can write about nothing and make you love it, this beautiful, beautiful nothing. Sometimes Italo Calvino strikes me the same way.
In this collection is "The Artist at Work" in which is the fabulous line: "'History shows,' he would say, 'that the less people read, the more books they buy.'" With these ever-bigger Barnes and Nobleses and other big-box-book-stores and yet the seemingly ever-diminishing numbers of actual readers, this seems sadly, absurdly true, no?
|Wild At Heart
||A book club called "Nobody Reads In LA"? FABULOUS. First rule of book club: don't talk about book club. See you next month, Chuck.
|Economics in One Lesson
||Here's the lesson: correct economics depends on a wide view, not a narrow one. One must look at all the far-ranging effects of a policy on all groups in a system, not just on the immediate or local effects. One must trace the consequences on all groups. That's it. He says it many times, many different ways, and using lots of different concrete examples of the fallacies that are strongly believed due to the failure to apply this rule of wide perspective. Pretty damn readable and comprehensible for an economics book, for a non-economicsy girl like myself. What's cute about this book is that it was first written in 1946 and my edition was revised for 1979 and the author talks about having hope that we may still learn from our mistakes and may still save ourselves from economic ruin in various ways (social security policy, rent control, etc)... but just as he must have been dismayed to see that not so much had changed for the better from '46 to '79, I'm willing to bet things wouldn't look much different to him today either, nearly 30 more years later. But the hope is just so cute: "There is a real promise that public policy may be reversed before the damage from existing measures and trends has become irreparable." Hee hee!
More serious cuteness is the way this guy waxes poetic... while discussing economics. On page 171 he writes:
Yet the ardor for inflation never dies. It would almost seem as if no country is capable of profiting from the experience of another and no generation of learning from the sufferings of its forebears. Each generation and country follows the same mirage. Each grasps for the same Dead Sea fruit that turns to dust and ashes in its mouth. For it is the nature of inflation to give birth to a thousand illusions.He later calls inflation "the opium of the people." Who knew economics could be so cute?
I also recently read this article and like how they summarize a piece of what the book is saying very nicely here: "The make-work bias is best illustrated by a story, perhaps apocryphal, of an economist who visits China under Mao Zedong. He sees hundreds of workers building a dam with shovels. He asks: 'Why don't they use a mechanical digger?' 'That would put people out of work,' replies the foreman. 'Oh,' says the economist, 'I thought you were making a dam. If it's jobs you want, take away their shovels and give them spoons.'
|In Cold Blood
||More non-fiction that reads like fiction, my favorite kind.
||I love theme-and-variations kinds of stories. This structure of the "Play in Story Form" was an interesting idea but hard to believe in as a new genre. This is a tiny book and yet it gets in deep and quickly, and still manages to keep being surprising. I really liked it.
|The Haunted Bookshop
||"For paradise in the world to come is uncertain, but there is indeed a heaven on this earth, a heaven which we inhabit when we read a good book." page 26.
Let me tell you that the book business is different from other trades. People don't know they want books. I can just see by looking at you that your mind is ill for lack of books but you are blissfully unaware of it! People don't go to a bookseller until some serious mental accident or disease makes them aware of their danger. Then they come here. ... People need books, but they don't know they need them. Generally they are not aware that the books they need are in existence... I am not a dealer in merchandise but a specialist in adjusting the book to the human need. Between ourselves, there is no such thing, abstractly, as a 'good' book. A book is 'good' only when it meets some human hunger or refutes some human error. A book that is good for me would very likely be punk for you. My pleasure is to prescribe books for such patients as drop in here and are willing to tell me their symptoms. Some people have let their reading faculties decay so that all I can do is hold a post mortem on them. But most are still open to treatment. There is no one so grateful as the man to whom you have given just the book his soul needed and he never knew it. ... The world has been printing books for 450 years, and yet gunpowder still has a wider circulation. Never mind! Printer's ink is still the greater explosive; it will win. pp16-18
"Her cheeks were cool and ruddy from the keen air, her face lit with the tranquil satisfaction of those who have sojourned in the comfortable city of Boston." --p38
Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries... When you read that book you can feel it blowing up your mind. It leaves you gasping, ill, nauseated--oh, it's not pleasant to feel some really pure intellect filtered into one's brain! It hurts! --p115
We had to beat [Country], yes, but the absurdity lies in the fact that we had to beat ourselves in doing it. The first thing you'll find, when the [X] gets to work, will be that we shall have to help [Country] onto her feet again so that she can be punished in an orderly way. We shall have to feed her and admit her to commerce so that she can pay her indemnities--we shall have to police her cities to prevent revolution from burning her up--and the upshot of it all will be that men will have fought the most terrible war in history, and endured nameless horrors, for the privilege of nursing their enemy back to health. If that isn't an absurdity, what is? --p114 [This book was published 90 years ago. 90!]
"All right," said the bookseller amiably. "Miss Chapman, you take the book up with you and read it in bed if you want to. Are you a librocubicularist?"
Titania looked a little scandalized.
"It's all right, my dear," said Helen. "He only means are you fond of reading in bed. I've been waiting to hear him work that word into the conversation. He made it up, and he's immensely proud of it."
"Reading in bed?" said Titania. "What a quaint idea! Does any one do it? It never occurred to me. I'm sure when I go to bed I'm far too sleepy to think of such a thing." -pg170
"But we are what we are, and Roger was even more so." -p172
|A Year in Van Nuys
||Sandra Tsing Loh
||Sitting in my cafe (admit it it's a bagel place) (but I don't eat bagels) (it's called "NY Bagel & Cafe". It's a cafe! They serve coffee!) (but I don't drink coffee) on Van Nuys Blvd, reading this book. Can't get my bluetooth keyboard (hand-me-down) to connect to my fancy Treo (hand-me-down), so I take out this notebook to write in, as usual. I read the following line (p198):
"I am not even packing a (crutch of the literati/crack cocaine of the chronically self-involved) Writing Journal."
Wow. Ouch. Wow.
"How about your friend Jolene?" Ben shoots back. "The Blocked Novelist/actress/lyricist/playwright/whatever. Maybe she should move to New York."
"Actually," I say, "Jolene originally came from New York--or perhaps the word is fled."
"And now she lives in Santa Monica. Practically rent-free."
"Exactly. A musical based on Los Angeles bohemian life would be called not Rent but Rent Control."
Wait a minute. I originally came from New York. My apartment is under rent control. Wow. Ouch.
Oh God, now this. Page 215. I actually clasp my hand over my mouth when I read this, here in the
cafe bagel place on Van Nuys. She rants on and on about the life of a writer and how it is drudgery and not romantic and absolutely soul-sucking and ends with:
"Do you guys hear me? I've had purer 'highs' off paying my bills with Quicken!"
"'Quicken!' they murmur. Apparently they like Quicken too."
WOW. OUCH. Erica Goldman, this is your life. A quick look at statistics from the past six months or so of my journal, in which I write nightly (see "chronically self-involved", above) -
Number of instances of the word sex: 2
Number of instances of the word Quicken: 19
|Special Topics in Calamity Physics
|The Autograph Man
||Loved it; didn't expect to after everyone raved about White Teeth and it didn't do it for me. How come everyone talks about that one and On Beauty and no one has ever mentioned this? It's fabulous.
And we learned a word - omphalos: the navel; a central part; a focal point.
|Doonesbury Dossier: The Reagan Years
||When I went to see Ann Patchett speak, she mentioned that her mom was the writer Jeanne Ray, so since I've already read all of Ann's books, I ran out and got one of her mom's books. Which is to say, I didn't run anywhere; I clicked a few times on the fabulous bookmooch.com and the book showed up in the mail a few days later. Awesome.
I have here lists of just about every book I've read in past years, though some years are nicely formatted and some are a big mess. One day I'll get them all looking nice, but when? Oh yeah, the 23rd...
Here we go. This is some thrilling stuff, folks! We have: 2006, pretty clean, and 2005, very messy. We have 2004, also messy but slightly more interesting. Here is 2003 and 2002, which I think aren't as bad.
Hey, what's your favorite book ever? What would you recommend as a Great Book to just about anyone?
By the way, the reason these books are all hyperlinked to their pages on amazon.com is that I'm an amazon.com "associate", meaning that if you click through to amazon using any of the links on this page and then buy *anything* (even if it's NOT the item I have hyperlinked), then I get "credit" for having referred you in and I get some little percent of what you spend. So I LOVE IT WHEN YOU CLICK THROUGH! Please do it all the time, every time you want to buy something on amazon, come here first! You're the best!
You can also use this link to Amazon's main page to buy anything and I'll get a kick-back, yippee!!