Do you want to see the cutest little boy in the world? Do you? You know you do. Then just go here and check out the kid who is not my daughter. (It’s pretty easy to make that distinction.)
I know I’ve said it before, but here I am saying it again, because it’s true. I love the library. I love that I can take home books purely on impulse and not have to worry that I might not like them, because it doesn’t matter because I didn’t pay for them. This last trip to my book mecca provided me with two amazing books I would never have picked up at the store.
The Secret Society of Demolition Writers edited by Marc Parent. This book is based on the coolest premise ever. Marc Parent, the editor of this collection, was watching a demolition derby, and realized that the guy who won did so because he drove like he had nothing to lose. He started thinking about that in terms of writing, and got to wondering what his favorite writers would write if they had nothing riding on it- no danger to their reputation, no expectation based on previous work. So he got a bunch of awesome writers to write short stories anonymously. Their names are on the front of the book, but there’s no way to link any author to any story within it. They were totally free to write on any subject, in any style, and the results are excellent.
The anonymous authors include Aimee Bender (LOVE HER!), Michael Connelly, Anna Quindlen, Alice Sebold, and a bunch more; and the stories cover everything from reporters in the Congo to ghosts of children not yet born coming out of safes. There wasn’t a single story I didn’t like, and quite a number that I loved.
Deadly Slipper by Michelle Wan. This is a great little mystery with a couple of layers. A woman is searching for information about her sister who went missing nineteen years before. The police gave up the case years before, but the woman comes across what she believes to be her sister’s camera in a pawn shop, and it has film in it. She has the pictures developed, and they’re a series of pictures of orchids. She takes them to a local orchid expert in the hopes that he can recreate her sister’s trail, and he agrees, not because he wants to help, but because the last picture on the roll is of an orchid that shouldn’t exist. So the mystery becomes not only what happened to the sister, how and why and by whom, but also if the camera belonged to the sister at all, and where and what this mysterious orchid might be. In the course of things everything gets quite twisted around, with lots of suspects and lots of flower hunting. The resolution is somewhat forseeable, just because there are so many suspects that when it turns out to actually be one of them you can’t really be surprised. I really enjoyed it, and found myself thinking about it constantly when I wasn’t reading. It made me want to read The Orchid Thief, for more orchid obsessing goodness.
Now I’m rereading Theatre (or maybe Theater , I don’t have the book in front of me, and I’m too lazy to look it up) by W. Somerset Maugham. I love it. Then it’s a double header of Snow Country and Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata.
Current total: 56
Just finished: Deadly Slipper by Michelle Wan
Currently reading: Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham
Over the last couple weeks I’ve had the chance to catch up on some movies, as I’ve been at home quite a lot. One that I saw, and loved, was Must Love Dogs. Now, I have to admit to the John Cusack love; I’ll watch just about anything that he’s in, not just because I love the characters that he plays, but because he seems like a genuinely cool guy, and his sister is hilarious, so that’s got to say something about a person, right?
Must Love Dogs was pretty panned by critics, but I thought it was cute. I have to admit though, that there was one big thing that won me over. To make my point, however, lets look at the idea of a John Cusack character for a second. Looking over John Cusack’s illustrious career, you can’t help but notice a trend in the characters. (By the way, the word Cusack starts to look really weird when you’ve typed it a number of times.) I think everyone would agree that the quintessential Cusack character is Lloyd Dobbler. The essence of the Cusack character is evident in Lloyd- sweet, considerate, a girl’s guy but also a guy’s guy. He’s romantic, he’d do anything for the girl, and he does end up doing exactly the perfect thing to win her over and make every girl in the audience swoon, and every guy curse a little because now they have something else to live up to. (As a small aside, I read an interview once where John Cusack claimed not to know what a “John Cusack” character was– he can’t be that blind. Anyway.)
Ask just about any girl and she’ll tell you that a John Cusack character is her dream guy. Whether it’s Lloyd, or Rob from High Fidelity, or Martin from Grosse Pointe Blank, or even Ivan from Tapeheads (which I also saw this week, and which is hilarious), there’s a Cusack for everyone to love. But are they really dream guys? Take a look at Lloyd- his sole ambition is to be with the girl, he has no job prospects, no goals, and doesn’t really want to have any. Rob is obsessed with his past, and browbeats the girl into getting back with him. The characters make these great speeches, knowing just what to say and audiences eat it up, wishing some guy would speak such words of truth to them, but stop and think for a second. What if someone left this on your answering machine?
“Maybe I didn’t really know you. Maybe you were just a mirage. Maybe the world is full of food and sex and spectacle and we’re all just hurling towards an apocalypse, in which case it’s not your fault. I’m been thinking about all these things and… you’re probably standing there monitoring. And one more thing – about the letter. Nuke it. Flame it. Destroy it. – It hurts me to know it’s out there. Later.”
Would you swoon, or kind of freak out? The reality of it is that you’d probably kind of freak out. And that, my dearies, is why I loved Must Love Dogs. Because Jake, the Cusack character du jour, goes off on one of his speeches to make you swoon, and Diane Lane’s character gets just a little freaked out. And it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
Besides, the rest of the movie is just plain cute, so if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. And if you’ve already seen it and didn’t like it, don’t tell me.
I’ve been AWOL but with good reason: a new baby takes up a lot of time! But today the white noise sound of the carpets being cleaned has soothed the savage Zoe monster to sleep, and I have a minute to type. (She really is a sweet girl, and only screams when somethinig is wrong- although exactly what’s wrong isn’t always clear to anyone other than her.)
For a couple weeks after her birth I didn’t get any reading in whatsoever, but I’ve managed to do a little in the last week. Here’s what I’ve read in little chunks while feeding the Zo.
The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly. My mom told me about this book after hearing about it on the radio. It sounded exceptionally cool- a book all about the books that have been lost to us- either because the author never finished them, or in the possible case of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor Won, because no more copies exist (if they ever did). Unfortunately, while it sounded super cool in theory, in actual application it wasn’t so intriguing. I reallly didn’t care about a lot of the authors covered, and most of the “lost” books fell in the category of never finished rather than once existed and now mysteriously are gone. I can’t really blame Kelly for writing a different book than the one I wanted to read, I just wish someone would write that book now.
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. I actually started reading this in the week before Zoe was born, then got distracted, so finshed it only a couple days ago. Perhaps it’s a strange book to read while anticipating a new baby, but I really enjoyed it. I’ve never seen the film, (although I love Mia Farrow’s hair in it), but knew the main premise. It’s really well written and suspenseful, (even knowing what’s going on), and the shock ending is fantastic. If it were written today I think everything would have been left vague- it wouldn’t have been stated for certain if Rosemary was right and evil people had designs on her child, or if she was suffering from some kind of pre-partum psychosis. That would make for a really creepy story, because everything she’s experiencing and figuring out is so real; what if we weren’t certain if it just all in her head? Anyway, I really liked it, and now I want to watch the film to see how it measures up.
Dean and Me: A Love Story by Jerry Lewis. I’ve wanted to read this since I read Where the Truth Lies by Rupert Holmes, to see how much he actually drew from the story of Martin and Lewis and how much was just from their legend. Apparently quite a lot was from their actual life. This is a great memoir of a really interesting time, but what makes it sing is Lewis’ focus on his partnership with Dean Martin. He could have veered off into so many tangents at so many points, but everything he writes about is grounded by how it fit into his relationship with Dean. It truly is a love story, they shared a connection that was unique and very special. They also shared a fame, the scope of which I had never really realized. I’d like to read more about both of them now, as this memoir has fleshed both of them out for me– showing Jerry as more than the monkey, and Dean as far, far more than the stoic straight man.
Now I’m reading The Tea-Olive Bird Watching Society by Augusta Trobaugh, which is interesting but not captivating yet. I’ll probably go out to the library today while the carpets are drying, so it’s entirely possible that I’ll find a new book to take it’s place. We’ll just have to see.
Current total: 54
Just finished: Dean and Me: A Love Story by Jerry Lewis
Currently Reading: The Tea-Olive Bird Watching Society by Augusta Trobaugh