It’s not April 1st, but I’m all too ready to jump out of January. Call me restless. Here’s my oddball mix to start the month off right:
1. I am reading way too many books. Too. Many! I’m talking 10. Or is it 12? And they range from CUTTING FOR STONE (the book club pick), UNBROKEN (which I need to get back to), WENCH (which I wish I loved more), Lorrie Moore’s SELF-HELP (for the 3rd time), Lee Child’s KILLING FLOOR (finally trying to figure out what this Jack-Reacher-character is all about) — I’ll stop there. You get the crazy.
2. What’s with all the nay-saying about memoir? (Thank you, Betsy, for your defense — you have a hell of a sold-list). Before I even started writing my own memoir (more than 7 years ago), I gravitated to them in the bookstore and on-line. Real lives, re-imagined. I buy books of author interviews, like CONVERSATIONS WITH WILLIAM STYRON and CONVERSATIONS WITH CAPOTE, the PARIS REVIEW INTERVIEWS. I’m addicted to The Actor’s Studio with James Lipton, who starts every interview with, “Where were you born?” Real life. Over at Dystel & Goderich, Stacey says she’s looking for narrative nonfiction and memoir, though she does say that memoir is becoming much harder to sell. Really? I have 2 full library shelves and counting …
3. Memoir-wise-speaking, I have a confession: I did not read the dreadfully self-indulgent EAT, PRAY, LOVE because the whole concept pissed me off. All that whining about her unhappy love life and having to buy (gasp!) size 8 jeans — too much wine and pasta and pizza! — broke my pizza-packed piggy bank. Can I say this story is dreadful, even without reading it? I say yes. I saw the movie. (I hate when people say that, but there it is.) I saw the movie. A beautiful, skinny, hot blonde living large and getting laid and looking for “real” experiences, while manufacturing said experiences. What a crock of bullshit.
4. But hey, EAT, PRAY, LOVE sold bazillions, so what the hell do I know?
5. Deep breath.
6. To fight the good memoir-fight, I’m also reading Caroline Knapp’s PACK OF TWO and APPETITES (thank you for those suggestions, Lisa G).
7. Lucky Seven. I’m listening to Joan Didion’s THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING while walking my dogs. Today, this line about the death of a parent stuck with me: “Despite our preparation, indeed, despite our age, [a parent’s death] dislodges things deep in us, sets off reactions that surprise us and may cut free memories and feelings that we had thought gone to ground long ago. We might, in that indeterminate period they call mourning, be in a submarine, silent on the ocean’s bed, aware of the depth charges, now near and now far, buffeting us with recollections.“ It’s not a hot blonde getting laid in Bali, but …
Dare I admit that I really enjoyed “Eat, Pray, Love?” Alas, I did not see the movie for fear it would taint my view. Julia Roberts, I am not a fan.
I know the feeling in regard to reading too many books. I never could do it but lately I’ve got 4 or 5 on the burner. I’ve already renewed 2. Perhaps there’s a glitch in the process.
I like the quote. There’s truth to it. When my mother passed away I thought I would be at her grave, screaming at her dumb-ass. Killing yourself with cigarettes! How selfish! How stupid! Instead, I sat before her stone, love pouring out of every pore. I suddenly understood. It was the smoking that kept her alive. Without those sticks she would have given up many moons ago. I only wish I had understood this before she died. It would have given her comfort.
MacD, you are in the majority on Eat, Pray, Love. I did scan-read the first 10 or so pages in the bookstore, and while I liked her writing style, I just couldn’t get past the premise…
As for your mother’s death, the world grows small. My mother died at 56 of COPD and emphysema, a world-class smoker from age 15. And though she couldn’t have them anymore, she craved them until the end. You are right — they are what kept her going, her one constant pleasure.
The premise could be that if you change yourself, you can change the world. The movie sucked for sure. But I thought the book was really well written. It’s so fascinating to me how many people think it’s self-indulgent for someone to do the things they want to do and write about them. I must be missing something.
Nice blog, though! Looking forward to reading more.
I’m in the same place with books. I’m glad you’re reading Caroline Knapp. I enjoy her style. I’d never heard of her before I happened upon The Merry Recluse at the library. And what? I want to smack the guy who was on about memoir. Aren’t all stories rooted somewhere in ourselves? As much as I could be a merry recluse, I find people infinitely interesting.
I have frittered away this day, damn it. On Skype with a friend (much needed for both of us), reading the comments that keep coming from Betsy’s blog, and surfing around for beef stew recipes and one thing leading to another until I got lost down the rabbit hole.
My stack of books is glaring at me.
I put off reading EAT, PRAY, LOVE because I can be a little contrarian and stubborn at times….plus a snob…..if everyone in the universe loves this book so much, then it can’t be any good.
Umm. Wrong. It was immensely readable and definitely valuable.
And, sorry, the movie was TERRIBLE.
But you’ve got enough to read. You definitely don’t have to read EAT, PRAY, LOVE!
Contrarian? A book-snob? Are you me? Cheers…
I live in D.C. Gotta check dates!
Because I too am a book/movie snob, I wanted to hate EPL from the second it came out and refused to read it. My girlfriends dragged me to the movie (also not a JR fan) and I LOVED it. (Although I am getting divorced and can’t stop eating pizza which may have had something to do with it.) I decided to try the book and have been reading it slowly and with love for months. So often liking books is about when you read them, who suggests you read them and so many other factors. I say Teri would hate it…yoga, meditation, wise men from Texas…yucky. 🙂