Sunday, February 23, 2014

Recovery Reading List

Hey, if you follow me on Twitter you may know (and if you don’t-- why the hell not?  Oh, you have a life, well, ok…) that I’ve been recovering from leg and foot surgery.  Hey, I wish it were a face lift, or something glamorous, or something that involved vacuuming out my middle section, but no, just trying to be able to walk. . .that pesky “one foot in front of the other” thing.
So I thought I’d give you my latest summary of books I’ve read.  This is not to be confused with a piece of literary criticism, more like the ravings of an overly isolated person who doesn’t have the mojo to reach for the remote.

Bridget Jones – Mad about The Boy by Helen Fielding
This was actually light and fun, yet not too light and fun.  Hey, Ms. Fielding makes me laugh out loud, what can I tell you?  I’m a sucker for that stuff about the calorie counts and the number of drinks.  What’s not to love about a tally of sex thoughts for the day.  Not that I identify.  You gotta love the English spelling of the word “Diarrhoea” used in conjunction with the word “erupted.”  Sorry, I’m a bit primal these days myself.
I give it an 8 out of 10 on the enjoyment and held-my-attention scale.  Just fun.  Beach or plane read.

The Circle by Dave Eggers. 
A 10.  I give this a 10.  Can I do an 11?
Hey, if you do follow me on Twitter or FB or use any kind of device, this book is riveting and harrowing at the same time.  It is the story of being “wired” going just a step too far. 
I’ve never read Dave Eggers before and now I think he is a mad genius.  And I’m slightly in love with him.  This book is big, bold, brave and I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN.  The protagonist is this 20-something, Google-type chick who loses herself in the world of “connectedness.”
It’s big, meaty and important.  It is Contemporary Literary Fiction. . .and it is good anyway!  Hah!  Read it, then tweet me!  Or nod to me, or something.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Oh Dear God: This book received the Mann Booker Prize for Literary Fiction. This always meant to me, “Ah, an important book for our times.”  Let me tell you, that is NOT a good recommendation today.  This book has been written up EVERYWHERE and raved about.
Well, I’m raving, but it ain’t good. 
850 pages.  And by the time I was finished and the “mystery” had been solved?  I no longer gave a shit about who did it and why.
Really, has no one heard of an editor?  (I do realize perhaps I need one here!)
The gold rush in New Zealand, or wherever the hell it takes place doesn’t interest me anyway, but 850 pages on it?  There isn’t enough character development to make me want to do this again. 
But please, read the book and let me know your opinion.  Or save yourself a week of your life and watch “Justified” and “House of Cards.“  But comment anyway, cuz I’m needy like that.
I give it a 5.  Cuz I made the effort.  And it was herculean.
The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman
I do love an Elinor Lipman novel.  This was a lovely tale of two sisters, one married to a Bernie Madoff-type guy, the other a young widow, making it work in NY.  Add the lovely gay roommate and it is just a lovely, warm, engaging read.
I give it an 8.  You will enjoy or if not? Come over and step on my foot.  My bad foot.


The Virgins by Pamela Erens

This is a typical, angst-filled, coming-of-age in a boarding school tale of young love.  Hey, what’s not to love about THAT description???
Totally readable, if you like that kind of thing, which I do.  Not powerful, riveting or life changing-- just a read.
Can I tell you a secret?  When I looked at the cover of this book on my iPad, I couldn’t immediately remember the story, which could be a statement about me or the novel.  Take your pick.
I give it a 6.5.  (And a 2.7 for memorability.)
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Look, it’s the Eat, Love, Pray author, writing a long novel about botany.  And feminism. And a woman coming of age. . . and a woman who really can’t come of age. Because it’s set in the 1800s.   It is sad, long, readable, empowering.  Good to read in companion with Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  Cuz all you want to do is scream at this woman to leave the flipping moss alone and LIVE.  “LEAN IN, SISTER!”
But oddly enough despite the rather odd and unnatural obsession with moss? Quite readable.  So I give it an 8.
Ending on a high note (To be read in operatic singing style)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 
This is the book of the year.  The. Book. Of. The. Year.
Delicious, amazing, riveting, accessible – everything a truly great book should be.  You will look at the world (acts of terrorism, art, stolen art, relationships) differently.  And you should.  And you will love the ride, cuz this is some amazing writing.  And if you haven’t read her other book, Secret History, then I am giving you a double present-- cuz I’m awesome like that.
This is the incredible story of a boy’s journey and love and relationships and the love for a Mama.  It is so much more mind-bending than a typical “coming-of-age” story; it is a story for our times.  I love this protagonist.  You won’t forget this one, no matter what kind of memory issue you have on a daily basis.  Now, why am I standing in this room again?
I give it a flipping 12! Hah-- take that scale of 1 to 10.  Ms. Tartt – I love you.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chemical Peel 

So last year, I go to the waxing lady, whom I love.  Which is odd, cuz she does pour hot wax on my special girl parts then RIPSSS.  And once you aren't a firm 20-something anymore (OK, so you aren't a firm 40-something anymore either, dammit.  And by "you" I do mean ME!), anyhow when it RIPPSS all your business comes along for the ride.
So she keeps saying to me: “We need to give you a chemical peel”, which sounds okay when she is pulling wax off your special places, but sounds less appealing when she is actually finished.
She keeps bringing it up and I keep saying: “Sure! Maybe someday.”
Then I go to the dermatologist, where they have the gall to tell me I have a lot of sun damage to my skin.  I've never been more insulted. (The truth is irrelevant here.)
 You know Dr. Dermatologist, if you want my business you might start out by COMPLIMENTING me! And then tell me how much prettier I could be if I spent more money with you! Ha!
So to punish the dermatologist, I set an appointment for a chemical peel with the waxing lady instead.
I try to cancel the appointment three times.  She won't let me.
I come in and say: “You know what?  I’m really busy today – (even though it’s Saturday).  I've changed my mind.  But I'll still pay for the appointment.”
She forces me up on the table.  
I giggle nervously.
I lie down and she starts to put the "solution" on my face.  
I sit back up.  I say “I've given it a great deal of thought, but I'm thinking only one coat of that stuff is enough.”
She puts her hand on my forehead and yanks me back down. 
As she is wiping, and I am fanning (and kicking my legs, and taking hyperventilation-type deep breaths and humming in a high-pitched way that is making dogs three miles away start to howl) I am pretty sure I've made some type of grave error.
Finally she lets me get up and run around the room.
She proudly holds up a mirror to my face to show me the "great" results and then I really start to scream!
I am all white, and crispy and frosty.  Like I've been out in a snow drift and have actually lost several toes.
Uh...can I pay you double to undo this? Can we make it go away?  Wailing louder: Do you have a time machine cuz I really wish I hadn't done this!!!
So really?  I paid someone to pour acid on my face, like that poor man who was the director of the Bolshoi Ballet.  Except he was a victim of a horrible crime.  I, on the other hand, made an appointment and wrote a check for this.
Switching gears…and not to let a shopping opportunity pass me by no matter what else is happening, I stop by the hat store and pick up three hats. Because I’m like the guy in Phantom of the Opera, except without the flipping mask thingie.   Let’s just say, I’m hideous.
But little do I know, but the hats are really NOT going to be helping me much that week.
So I go home to my family.
And we wait.
And as we wait, I get browner and browner. 
And more swollen and more swollen.
I am so tight, and stiff and swollen that I can't eat.  (OK, this is a total lie.  I manage to eat, but it does crack all the skin around my mouth to do so. )
I am however, just barely able to get my lips around a glass.  Whether or not there is a martini in “said glass” hardly seems to be relevant.  (Or does it?)
We get up to go to church.  (Don't think me too pious.  It is Easter morning.)  I put on a cute frock, a scarf, a hat and mirrored sunglasses.  
My family sits in a separate pew.
Well, it is going to be a week of quiet time.  You know, quiet reflection, time out of the spotlight, time to really knock the work out, here at home.  
But what it really is?  
It is a time to be narcissistically self-obsessed.  I take 100 photos of myself (I can’t bear to use the term “selfie” here) and text them to my friends saying:  I'm so HIDEOUS!  Then I run to the mirror 50 times a day to find out what on earth is happening NOW.
What IS happening now you might ask?
After four days of regret and fear and loathing…
I have a skin like a baby’s bottom.  Hopefully minus the mess you usually find on said bottom.
Signed, Greta Garbo – For a week!