Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More book assignments

While I generally agree with Chris' comment (see comments to post below), at least in regards to some of the fluffier fiction, it's not always that easy to designate lit as "easy" and "hard." I find Austen difficult to read (at least on little sleep), but that mostly has to do with the simple mechanics of understanding a vocabulary and syntax that are chronologically foreign to my own. The deeper meanings I generally ferret out on later reflection -- just the way I think.

But then read Jennifer Weiner (another unfortunate name) -- anything will do, I prefer some of her other work to In Her Shoes, but just about every library should have that title on its shelves.

I think every woman should read I Don't Know How She Does It, by Allison Pearson -- and then make their consorts read it as well. There's nothing new to puzzle over, but it encapsulates the biological clock vs. career issue heartbreakingly well.

All I'm getting at is that some (and these could be exceptions) Chick Lit contains uncanny self-awareness and surprising social commentary -- in short, hidden depths.

But for now I'm going to go eat chocolate and read The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne. For the record, it's just fun. And contains blonde wigs.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


(Great. Now I've got Weird Al's new "Confessions Pt. 3" running through my head. Excellent.)

I thought I'd try to keep up a side list of the books I've been reading, just for fun. This should be accompanied by a warning: I no longer read much ... um ... "serious" literature. I've found it impossible to read anything requiring concentration during my lunch breaks, because I'm constantly interrupted. At night, I'm usually too tired to try anything harder. Thus, I read a lot of literary candy. My biggest vice: Chick Lit.

There. It's out. I have to admit that the more high-fashion upperclass escapism is in the book, the more I enjoy it. The Devil Wears Prada? Hilarious. I'll one up you and suggest Everyone Worth Knowing, also by Lauren Weisberger.

However, my absolute favorite author is Rafaella Barker, of Hens Dancing and Summertime. Hard to find, worth the trouble.

As bad a rap as Chick Lit gets, though, the content (at least most of what I've read) isn't bad. A lot of these authors (all female, however much Nicholas Sparks wants to join the club) are incredibly well read, can string together a decent sentence and have a marvelous knack for voice and pacing. They can research what background they need, or else they know to keep their subject matter limited to what they know. The materialistic subject matter is, by and large, handled with an addictive satire. These women know their stuff.

Trouble is -- and you former English majors can take a deep breath and get ready to scream now -- I find myself more and more comparing the range and subject matter to those of Jane Austen. Let's face it -- there's a reason the Chick Lit authors continue to rip off the mighty Austen's plots.

So here's the issue: Austen and Leo Tolstoy(i) are considered "serious" literature. What makes their work more important than, say, Bridget Jones' Diary? This question is not meant to offend -- I honestly wonder about this. I especially find it hard to understand why the likes of Jack Kerouac and Earnest Hemingway are so all-fired worth our time. Sure, Kerouac was "experimental," but most of the experimenting had to do with drugs -- the typewriter just happened to be handy, and now high school students must suffer. Don't even get me started on John Updike. I'm starting to think the only thing cringe-worthy for (most) Chick Lit is the often garish cover art.

For further research, I'd recommend:

Rafaella Barker
Lauren Weisberger
Marion Keyes
Sophie Kinsella
Haven Kimmel
Sarah Mlynowski
Jane Green
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

But really, he's ferocious

Seen last week just outside the store:

A Yorkshire Terrier. Named Rocky. Wearing a Harley-Davidson doggie t-shirt.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It's hardest to post when one hasn't in a while. Do I apologize? That would be weird -- but then, I get annoyed (inappropriately so, I know) when my friends don't post for a while.

So, anyway, what I was doing -- among other things, taking care of sick husband who may or may not have been battling a case of the mumps. Blood tests came back negative, but then there wasn't any other better reason for the very large lump that temporarily took up residence along Husband's left jaw.

In an effort to rally the troops, I borrowed one of my mother-in-law's cats for an afternoon. That turned out well (cat vomiting in transit notwithstanding), but now I really miss not having cat in the apartment.

It was an unexpected (pleasant!) surprise to be able to see Hannah a few weekends ago when she showed up for Homecoming (we ran into each other at the French Market). But I wanted to give you a heads up, Hannah -- you were probably exposed to the mumps while on campus (which is where Michael may or may not have caught it the week before), and while it's not a severe case that's going around, it is draining. He's still pretty exhausted.

I'm pretty drained, too. Don't exactly know why ... could be I've caught a micro version of what Michael had, could be PMS, could be SADD (no sun for a while), could be a simple case of ennui, don't know. I'm just going through a time where dealing with customers -- people in general -- is really driving me crazy. I'd like a little hut in the woods right about now. A simple cabin with a vegetable and herb garden in back, a little goathut past that, and an anonymous Chocolate Fairy who leaves offerings on my doorstep every morning.

Yeah, sounds like PMS.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Too many ideas, not much substance

Lots of things I could post ... today's happenings at the animal shelter:

  • Dutton the Overgrown Kitten is going through a phase of Not Looking Before Leaping: off my shoulder (almost into a trash can), onto the windowsill (by way of an -- oops, open -- bin of cat litter), up on top of the cages (which were almost too far away), etc.
  • The sight of a teeny kitten in a dogcatcher's net, spitting and swearing at the top of its lungs What It'll Do When It Gets Out.
  • A slightly older kitten with very wet sneezes who starts purring and making starfish-paws as soon as he sees a human looking at him.
  • Roni and Mac are still there, and still keeping me posted on all the goings-on at the shelter while I'm not there.
Another bad day at the store yesterday ... why do Some Mothers think it's OK to let their kids run completely wild in public? I'm sure I'll have a different perspective when I have my own, but ... I've seen other moms with very active kids who still manage public outings without any bloodshed. If I based my opinion of children completely on my experiences yesterday, oy.

Turns out druids come in handy -- their animal companions in particular. Out druid's eagle handily killed a couple huge spiders for us and saved our skins. And I thought druids were just a bunch of sissies. Might need to re-form that opinion.