Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ayelet Waldman's travails

Ayelet Waldman takes another reader beating in today's Salon. I have to admit I was so thoroughly disgusted with the beginning of her article on hoping her son would be gay that I didn't even finish it, but man, alot of readers did, and only one had anything complimentary to say. As I mentioned previously, I am quickly concluding that Waldman is much more immature and self-absorbed than I thought. I apparently am not the only one reaching this conclusion, and I doubt I'll go out of my way to read her Salon column from now in any depth. I am disappointed.

Then I started worrying - do I mention my kids too often in this blog? I don't think I do, I try not to discuss personal matters much. A few pics and logs about what we are reading aloud are not intrusive into their lives... I don't think. Please correct me if I am wrong. My kids have a tough enough row to hoe just having me for their mother; I don't need to do a single thing to make it more difficult for them.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

reading aloud to the little guys

Simon and I have been doing alot of reading aloud over the past day or so because he is still a pretty sick little dude too. I discovered a book I don't even remember buying but have had for ages called The Outspoken Princess and the Gentle Knight: An anthology of modern fairy tales. There's about fifteen stories, all by famous authors - AS Byatt, Patricia Coombes, Richard Kennedy, Jane Yolen, Lloyd Alexander...The one we read tonight was by Lloyd Alexander and was called The Cat-King. It was a strange but charming little fable about tolerance. This afternoon we read a very funny one called Little Polly Riding Hood - Polly refuses to follow the script and be eaten by the wolf and the wolf is continually frustrated in his quest by the fact that Polly takes the train and a bus to see her grandma, she doesn't go tripping thru the woods, etc. Yesterday's story (and the biggest hit) was Molly Mullett and the Ogre. It's sort of the same idea as Robert Munsch's Paperbag Princess, only with an ogre instead of the dragon. Simon laughs so hard every time I read the part where the king calls Molly a measelly, sneezely, sniveling girl that it cracks *me* up.

It's a relief to read something new and interesting to me, too. I have to be careful and pre-read before I read a story to him; there's one in particular called The Dark Princess that is not suitable for a four year old, but overall it's a big success. Shouldn't have surprised me as the last book that went over this well was my compilation of classic poems illustrated for children. He still loves Belinda and Custard her Cowardly Dragon, and Annabel Lee.

I've been thinking of reading some Bible stories to him too (speaking of having to be careful) - but stuff like Daniel in the lions' den, and Esther - I've always thought the story of Esther is almost a perfect story - it's got it all, a brave and ingenious heroine, love, loyalty, crazy plot twists, and the baddie gets it in the end.

My friend Patience recommended a book today I hadn't heard of but that I should hunt up. I can't remember the title but it's fairy tales and short stories structured to be read aloud by two people, and Si is so close to actually reading that within a few months, he might really enjoy something like that.

This is one of the fun parts of having kids : )That, and if it's nice and warm tomorrow, we are going out for ice cream. Because when you have two little boys with you, you need no excuse!

can you guess the thought progression?

I just requested from the library (in this order):

Why I'm Like This - Cynthia Kaplan
A Girl named Zippy - Haven Kimmel
Garlic and Sapphires - Ruth Reichl
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd

And I'm STILL waiting on Confessions of a Slacker Mom.

Is there any pattern here at all? : )

(Hint: I started *here*: the only reason I did not request Devil in the Details is that I'm going to borrow it from my other library, Gina.)

What does it all mean?

OK. After an eventful Easter morning in the emergency room, the parasi—er, baby--- is swimming around in a pharmaceutical soup composed of amoxicillin (for the sinus infection and bronchitis); Zoloft (per usual); prenatal vitamins (gotta take something for the kid, don’t I?); Tylenol (for the ear pain from the sinusitis); Reglan (for the omnipresent nausea and so I can eat something, anything, at all); and if needed, phenergan with codeine (which apparently if I stop taking it well before my ninth month the babe will not emerge a full-fledged codeine addict). If I don’t give birth to Blinky, I will be ever grateful. But since Si already gave one of the goldfish our baby name, maybe Blinky would indeed be a good alternative.

Someone stop me before I breed again, please – if I start talking about having another baby in two years or so, please smack me upside the head with some sort of large, hard object. You have my permission to do this.

Besides, everyone knows that….three….is the magic numbah!


Ayelet Waldman is taking some serious heat for being so in love with her husband. This is what started my noticing it: (link courtesy of Bookslut). I think I read one of her blog posts along these lines, and remember being positively horrified – I mean, I love my husband and all, but would I sacrifice on of my children for his life? NO WAY! If only because he’s lived a lot of his life and they are just starting out….they trust me to protect them, how could I betray that trust?...Dan is an adult and could probably fend for himself, my children cannot….your children love their mother like no woman’s husband has *ever* loved her, and if you don’t believe that then I feel sorry for you. At any rate – there was this link to a parody on Ayelet’s unfortunate post today which made me laugh out loud: (link also courtesy of Bookslut).

You know, at first I really liked Ayelet, but the more I read her stuff and “get to know her” in the world of the blogosphere, I don’t think we would be very good friends. I hesitate to make judgment but suffice it to say that I just don’t think I would want to hang out with her after all. It makes me a little sad – but of course, she probably doesn’t want to hang out with me either : )


I started Geraldine Brooks’ March the other night. It’s an odd book and as I am only three or so chapters into it, I am not sure what I think yet. I do know Brooks is a lovely writer, and her Mr March is an intriguing and ultimately likeable character who is trying to find his place and make his peace in this crazy world. But putting him next to what little of him shows up in Little Women—I am not sure how believable this book is. Speaking of, March also made me go back to reread for the gazillionth time Little Women. Is it not one of the SMARMIEST – or should I say S-Marmee-iest- books ever written? I loved this book as a girl, I should never have reread it to try to recapture the magic. I am so sad. Although, Eight Cousins still stood up ok. Mostly I am too sick and weary to read much of anything at all. If I don’t feel better soon, I don’t know what I will do as my pile and the list is getting out of hand.

Friday, March 25, 2005


I hated this book. Hated it. HATED it. It was joyless and depressing and infuriating. I don’t even know why I finished it except I kept hoping Lee would pull her head out of her ass and make me understand why people I did like – namely her father and Martha- liked her. I hated Lee Fiora. She may well be the most selfish, whining and whinging, self-absorbed, spineless, and pathologically neurotic protagonist I have ever come across. She had not one iota of charm or likeability. If she really was a nice, normal, cheerful, noisy teenager back in South Bend, I don’t believe it. And if I was her family, or her best friend Martha, or even her math tutor Aubrey – all of whom were at least interesting and three-dimensional people – I would never have put up with her. I don’t know why they did – we never discover one redeeming quality this horrible, shallow girl might possess.

And if this is what Curtis Sittenfeld experienced at school, I personally would have been ashamed to write about myself being such an inept, ineffectual loser. (I also don’t think she’s any great shakes as a writer – she’s not *bad* and I admit that perhaps she is suffering from comparison with another first book I just read, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which also deals with a misfit teenage girl who is at least *trying* to find her place. Not that a congratulatory cover blurb from the over-rated Dave Eggers carries any great weight with me to start…).

I was certainly no Miss Popularity in high school, but I made some friends and was, while not self-possessed or assured by any means, at least able to learn to be comfortable enough in my own skin to have some fun sometimes. Lee is truly in need of serious psychiatric treatment, I think. And that’s what pissed me off the most – her complete lack of self-preservation. If she was so unhappy, if she was so depressed and such a misfit, why stay? I wanted to yell along with her father at the end when he tells her that the past 4 years have been a lie. Is it THAT horrible to go to a public high school? Especially since she turns out to be a mediocre student at best? I could go on and on all day. I haven’t hated a book this much, or been so disgusted with a character or her author, in a very long time. Mostly, I just want to say to Lee (and to Sittenfeld): GROW UP.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Changed Man

I know you feel like you're living under a drop cloth, Val, but this chilly rain is perfect for me. I've been snuggled up with A Changed Man for the last hour, and it has been bliss.

coming into Holy Week

I read Y:The Last Man over lunch on Monday. I too find Yorick disturbingly attractive, although I am fairly sure his beloved girlfriend whom he is going to risk life and limb to find in Australia is a lesbian. I'd think she was cheating on him but all the other men are dead, or at least so we suppose. Go for Agent 355, Yorick - she's your best bet. Although she could kill you with her little finger...


I finished Behind the Scenes at the Museum and found it a satisfying read. I liked Case Histories, but since this is Atkinson's first I wasn't sure what to expect (it won the Whitbread). It's a little meandering at times, but honestly that's part of its charm. And Ruby is an incredibly sympathetic character - I just couldn't get my head around why her mother was such a pain in the ass, or as Ruby puts it, an "autistic mother."


I whipped thru The Dewey Decimal System of Love in something like two hours. The main character, Ally Sheffield, is annoying and eccentric and not very likeable, and the plot is completely unbelievable. But I still finished it. Why? Because I really liked Ally's boss and coworkers, frankly. Yvonne and Gordon were the best characters in the book and the only ones I could stand to even have a short lunch with, let alone work with. Don't even get me started on the immature and underdeveloped characters, the stereotypes, and Ally's whiny best friend...


Next up: Prep. I was disappointed to realize I had read the first scene somewhere in an excerpt, so it's making the getting-going a bit slow. But I'll manage...


I read Newsweek every week; it's an easy way to get the world news. But what is with all the religious filler lately? I swear, in the past year alone, there have been no less than three and possibly more articles about (I think I am remembering correctly) the Dead Sea scrolls, religious art, two articles alone about Jesus -- not that I have anything against Him, but c''re a NEWS magazine. How many in-depth articles about Jesus does a current-events mag need in one year? Is this what happens to our national news media when we have a religious fanatic who believes he is the hand of God in the White House? Ergh...don't even get me started on the Schiavo case...

Is it EVER going to get warm AND sunny? I feel like I am living under a dropcloth.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Nancy Pearl on NPR

She talks about her favorite "micro-histories", like Salt and Stiff. Some of her other suggestions look to be worth checking out. She's so cool! :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

David Foster Wallace is a Flirt!

I'm serious! I am enjoying this article more than I think I've enjoyed any other magazine article. It's just a feature piece on the world of a talk-radio host, but it's engaging and entertaining, and I've found that I'm reading slowly because I don't want it to end.

Why is this? I'll tell you why: You know those footnotes in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again? Well, they aren't there because DFW is self-indulgent, or because his editor is spineless--they're DFW's way of flirting with his readers!! Think about it--those footnotes are nothing more than DFW whispering an aside in your ear.

They're all through this Atlantic article (at least in the print version--in fact, if you want to read the article, use the link and then download the PDF because the extra commentary isn't in the on-line version) in the form of highlighted phrases that link to boxes filled with interesting and charming asides. I feel like each highlighted portion was added by DFW just because he knew it was exactly what I'd want to know!

Can this be true?

Pleasure's Penury

Doesn't that sound like the title of a bodice ripper? Can't you just see it scrawled across a nice, pulpy paperback, in some pirate-y font?

I'm really referring, however, to the fact that I've imposed a ban on reading for pleasure until I've finished some school work. I feel like a child who cannot watch television until her homework is finished, or who cannot have dessert until she's finished her broccoli. Sigh.

I finished Prep Sunday night, and I liked it very much. I won't say that it's any great literary shakes . . . in fact, I'm going to step right up to the critics and say that I think Prep is chick lit. (This is not an insult, because I don't think chick lit is by definition a bad thing, but I bet Curtis Sittenfeld would be offended.)

Prep is an entertaining read filled with lots of little truths. The narrator is looking back on her experiences at boarding school from a period of at least ten years, and her retelling is filled with honesty and some wisdom. I think if Sittenfeld's narrator were telling the story as she lived it, rather than as she remembered it, the novel could be classed as YA--and I don't mean that as an insult, either.

So that's my take on Prep. I read more than half of it Friday night--it was that enjoyable. Thumbs up, indeed!

I also give both of my thumbs and all of my fingers and toes up for the first installment of Y:The Last Man. Action, adventure, horror, gross-outs, love, fear, bravery, sex . . . and Yorick Brown is the hottest (drawn) guy I've ever seen! :-) I have the next three books on reserve at the library, but I think I might actually buy them--I want to give them my money!

Friday, March 18, 2005


I am halfway thru Swimming to Antarctica and I have to say, the woman is NUTS! She swims Glacier Bay in Alaska, breaking up ice floes with her arms. She nearly gets eaten by a twelve-foot shark off the coast of South Africa. She is about to swim the Bering Strait. I hate to be cold - I cannot even imagine! Her writing style is sort of anecdotal and at times immature, but she's got a great story to tell.

I happened to pick up Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum at Half Price Books a while ago, after I had just finished Case Histories. I started it the other night. The narrator and central character is Ruby Lennox, who begins her story at the moment of her conception. Parts are told in flashback, in a quiet and thoughtful sort of way, to fill in family history. Ruby is an amusing and all-knowing narrator (she misses knowing her mother's private fantasies after she is birthed...), and the book is really compelling so far. I'll let you know if it finishes as strongly as it starts.

I am considering getting the boys some fish. Si is a big Mr Rogers fan and would like some. Last time I went to buy goldfish, however, I practically got reported to the SPCA for daring to say I was just going to put the dang fish in a bowl. And then the overzealous, overprotective salesperson refused to sell me any goldfish because, and I quote, "they are all on medication right now." Right. Goldfish Prozac, because just swimming in circles around their tank is really depressing. And the thought of living in a bowl in my living room would make them suicidal? Someone suggested beta fish instead - apparently they live longer. And maybe they are not as prone to depressive tendencies. Probably because they just EAT each other instead. Oh for Christ's sake, maybe I'll just stick with my kids and my cats.

Y: The Last Man

I read this last night, and it's my favorite of the graphic novels so far--I can't wait to get my hands on the second volume!

This is faster reading than The Sandman, and prettier, too. Yorick Brown is HOT. (And I'm a total DORK.) The story is equal parts scary, awful, gross, fascinating, funny, and fun. I'm in love, and I think I'm going to buy these outright rather than get the remaining ones from the library.

Next up, Prep. I love books and movies about the high school kids, so I'm looking forward to this.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Erin Go Bragh, blah, blah, blah

OK, stupidly, I crawled off my deathbed yesterday to go to the bookstore. I thought the fresh air and a change of scenery would help me feel better, along with some onion soup from Panera. I was woefully wrong, but that didn't stop me from buying a few books.

Geraldine Brooks' new offering, March, is the story of Mr. March, the father of those infamous Little Women. Intriguing concept to start (I mean, who isn't interested in those missing characters? Have you ever checked out The Wide Sargasso Sea? Or, worse, those awful P&P knockoffs?) and Brooks wrote a very good book called Year of Wonders, about the black plague, that was startling in its beauty. (Not to mention anyone who knows me knows I adore those plague and pestilence books…) She is also the author of Nine Parts of Desire, an informative and very readable book about Muslim culture and its women.

I picked up the next Mary Russell, O Jerusalem, put in an order for Justice Hall, and was happy to find out that there is another Mary Russell coming out in paperback any day now (The Game, which will necessitate reading Rudyard Kipling's Kim), and a new hardback coming out in June.

In the vein of my liking to read about things I will never in a million years attempt, I bought Swimming to Antarctica. Now I have no desire to swim the English Channel, any more than I wish to climb Mount Everest or deep sea dive for missing U-boats, but for some bizarre reason, I really enjoy reading about people who do. Considering my level of fitness enables me to shuffle slowly around the reservoir three times a week, I am clearly not in the running for participating in any of these great adventures, but I can lie in bed and really like reading about the crazies who do.

I also picked up an Ursula Hegi I haven’t read, on the bargain table; and a book called The Dewey Decimal System of Love. How can you go wrong with a title like that? It adds to my small but growing collection of librarian-based novels.

So while I was too sick last night to read any of these books, it comforted me just knowing they were there. And this morning after twelve straight hours of sleep and lots of buttered toast, I am emerging into the land of the living again. I’m not ready to go swim the Channel, but I might manage a few loads of laundry and maybe a walk around the block with the boys later.


OK here’s something that is just COOL. Check it out.


I am skipping any St Pat’s festivities since we threw our party last Saturday, but you all have a good time. Don’t eat the yellow snow and don’t drink the green beer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

fevered reminiscences

Good god, have I been ill. Ill with a capital I, so ill I haven't even wanted to read anything. As my husband points out, only I could be 1) pregnant, 2) morning, noon, and night sick, and 3) catch the flu. He shakes his head in despair at his delicate wife : )And yet, to his puzzlement (and happiness of course), I seem to birth such darn healthy babies.

So I've been perusing my new issues of Brain, Child and Real Simple and Parents (I will be so glad when that stupid subscription runs out). And last night I resorted to reading Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars - the literary equivalent of flannel pajamas and a hot water bottle in your bed.

At one point this weekend, I longed for my mom. When I was sick as a kid, she was so comforting. (Much more comforting than she ever was when we were healthy, blaspehmous as that sounds to say. I think that, like her daughter, she dealt better with a crisis than the annoying mundanities of everyday life.) She'd come check your forehead for fever with her cool, soft, sure hands. She'd make plates and plates of buttered toast and cups and cups of hot sweet tea with honey and lemon. She'd hold your head when you threw up. And when you were feeling a little better, you were allowed to lie on the couch during the day and watch TV. Sounds glorious, especially since as the mom now, regardless of how sick *I* am, I am the one taxed with food prep, cleaning up vomit, and keeping fresh sheets on the beds. So in my fevered state this past weekend, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia for my childhood. Who'd have ever guessed? : )

Monday, March 14, 2005

1971 Sears Catalog

This is too good to not share. I was born in 1971, and if you take a look at what Sears was schilling at the time, it's not wonder my mother once asked me why I don't like pretty things.

Orange Prize Long List

I've only read two of the books on this list, Case Histories and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I'd recommend the former to anyone, but not necessarily the latter. We Need to Talk was difficult to read, and if you're a mom who ever feels or has felt ambivalence about motherhood, this might keep you up at night. I can't believe it hasn't unleashed all kinds of hysteria.

A Book About . . . Bono

According to the description of this book, Bono is the biggest rock star in the world. This makes me wonder if the term "rock star" is still relevant . . .

Good Dog Carl

I expected to love these books because my aunt had a sweet and wonderful Rotweiller named Hammer, and I loved him, and he loved kids, and all signs were pointing to a big love fest . . .

And then I read the first one and realized that the mom seriously leaves the baby in the dog's care. I think she even leaves the house! What?!?! There's a funny look at one of the other books in the series over at Dooce.

The Good Dog Carl mom (I don't know if there is a dad in the picture) is as bad a parent as the ones in the Rugrats cartoons (whose awfulness could stand a separate post). I mean, I realize that I'm paranoid and over-protective, and that my parenting motto of "Constant Vigilance" is probably taking things a little far, but COME ON!

I Need to Get a Book of Quotations

"What a sad want I am in of libraries, of books to gather facts from! Why is there not a Majesty's library in every county town? There is a Majesty's jail and gallows in every one."--Thomas Carlyle

I heard a story on Morning Edition today about Donald Knuth and The Art of Computer Programming (which seems cool even for someone who doesn't know anything about computer programming), and the story ended with a Thomas Carlyle quote about life and books . . . of course I can't remember it and can't find it on-line. So now I need to get a book of quotations.


I threw aside the Cynthia Ozick and read The Doll's House Saturday night. I'm guessing Quenton Tarantino is a Neil Gaimon fan; The Sandman is fast and furious and violent and scary and funny and intense and silly in a way the reminds me of QT's movies.

I started The United States of Europe yesterday, and I'm pleased by how readable it is. I knew it would be interesting, but sometimes reading history/current events can be like eating vegetables--beneficial, but unpleasant. This is much more like fruit salad--it's good for you, sure, but it's tasty too. Reid is really at ease and confident with the subject matter, so you don't get the sense that he's out to prove himself. He's just talking about something he knows and cares a lot about, and it's a pleasure to read.

I have a ton of school work to do, so the reading will probably be pretty slow this week. Y: The Last Man is waiting for me at the library, but I'm not planning to allow myself to read it until I finish at least one paper/project.

In other news, now that Teddy has proven to me that he knows his way around a dictionary, I need to pick up one to keep in the car. He keeps coming up with spelling/usage questions while we're driving . . .

Also, Ayelet Waldron has an article up on Salon, and I'm guessing it's going to get a pretty big response. She references one of her later blog posts about suicide and people with bi-polar disorder, and confesses that she was indeed feeling suicidal herself. I'm pretty sure she (or Salon) is going to be inundated with angry letters. What do you think?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Stop Me Before I Spend Again

B&N sent me an e-mail coupon for an additional 10% off, so I HAD to use it. Right? Right.

I picked up The Little Prince and Where the Sidewalk Ends (which I SWORE we already had, but he [correctly] insisted we didn't), and something called Three Rotten Eggs for his independent reading pleasure.

I got the new JSF, which I can't wait to start. I have no issues with his having written about 9/11, although I've seen articles asserting that either it's too easy a topic to write about, or that writing about it somehow bastardizes the event. That's nonsense, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, writers write about things that matter to them, right? Well . . . this matters a whole lot to a lot of people. I don't think writing about it is capitalizing on it.

I also got A Changed Man, by Francine Prose. Maureen Corrigan reviewed it on Fresh Air as I was leaving work, and I walked right out and bought it DESPITE the creepy cover. It seems like it will be a good time.

I'm STILL not finished with Heir to the Glimmering World, and the only reason I'm not letting it go is that it was one of the selections for the Tournament of Books. I'm guessing there will be a great payoff at the end. There'd better be, because I'm sitting on the second Sandman book!


I finished Sarah Dunant's Birth of Venus last night, and I haven't enjoyed reading a book so much in a while. Great story, good writing, compelling and likeable (or compellingly unlikeable) characters. There were some mildly unbelievable bits but for the most part, it was very aware of the times in which it is set (Savonarola's Florence - a period of history that does especially interest me) and that worked for its believability.
I remember, about a year ago, waiting for the infernal elevator in Pitt's IS building and watching a woman with her nose in a book walk smack into the UPS box. She was reading Birth of Venus. As good a book recommendation as any, I think. I filed the title away and finally picked it up last weekend. I'm not sorry.

I also wrapped up Minette Walters' Disordered Minds which was pretty much a redux of her earlier novels. Disappointing. I expect more from Walters, who is usually clever and psychologically complex. It probably suffered from being read on the heels of Denise Mina's Deception, however.

I dropped The House of Dies Drear. It's a YA novel, so my expectations were (perhaps unfairly) not as high, but I still wanted it to be more believable.

What's up next? The family St Pat's party this weekend, and then I can worry about what to read. Probably April Fool's Day. (The pressure to read a book increases when a friend gives it to you - in this case, a friend who was a teacher of mine in junior high. At least I don't have to write a book report on it. Do I?)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Maybe Everything is NOT Illuminated After All

But I really like this book. There's some pretension, yes, but JSF is young and smart and he knows it. He hides this knowledge better than I would have been able to, in his place; he hides this knowledge a lot better than many of the other young and smart writers currently cashing checks, now that I think of it.

(Aside: If you want to read two cool books by writers who are both young and smart but who haven't been deemed literary and can thus skip literary pretension all together, check out Ned Vizzini's Be More Chill and Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower.)

Back to Everything Is Illuminated: JSF seems to be really trying to ask questions. He's interested in truth/history/story/fiction. He's interested in the rhythm of language and playing with words. He's interested in what it means to be a young man, and what it could possibly be like to be an old man. He's interested in life in general, with an earnestness that seems odd and endearing to me at a time when ironic detachment seems to be the norm.

Anyway, check it out. I'm glad I bought it, because I think it's worth reading again.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Jane Austen rules!

This is what I scored:

You scored 12 out of a possible 18
Not bad at all. You have a firm grasp on the niceties of the Austenian worlds, and certainly know your Elizabeths from your Emmas. But there is room for improvement. Spend less time gassing with the officers at Meryton and more time gainfully employed in your father's library and you should start to see the results.


What about you guys?

And if you don't have anything else to do, check these out. They could keep me busy for a while.,5957,404663,00.html

wouldn't Dead Men's Babies be a great name for a band?

OK, I admit to a wholy inappropriate crush on Neighbor Aber from Mr Rogers. Almost as disturbing as my lust for Anthony Wiggle. But right now Chuck's strolling around singing to himself, and I feel a little squeamish. I knew he was just a bit too clean-cut for me.

I just had a horrifying mommy-moment while trying to explain to my two-year-old how the TV schedule works (i.e. we can only watch the Teletubbies when the Teletubbies are on). I said, "Jude man, when Barney is over, the Teletubbies will be on and we will turn the television back on to watch them." Simon came over to be appropriately consoling and big brotherly, and he put his arm around Jude's shoulders and said solemnly, "Jude, the television is *not* magic." Whereupon Jude begin to wail heartbrokenly. And I *laughed.* Rotten Mama. That's what my screen name should be - RottenMama.


Here is my new favorite way to waste time after I hit Salon, the news, the weather, and various other blogs I check regularly:
The Comics Curmudgeon


I finished the Denise Mina, and it was...really good. The ending did not totally blow me away, but close. I will definitely check out other Mina books. And then I started John Searles' "unputdownable thriller", Strange But True. I feel like I took some sort of weirdo mind/reality-altering pharmaceutical cocktail (I mean different than my usual one) before embarking on this week's reading. First the Mina, now the Searles - nothing is what it seems in either of these books. My head hurts. So the antidote is The Moor, Laurie King's 4th Mary Russell mystery. The Hound of the Baskervilles has nothing on neurotic househusbands and women pregnant with dead men's babies.

Media, Mediated & Me

Did anyone see the Salon article on Mediated: The Hidden Effects of Media on People, Places, and Things? The author talks about how so many people are so hyper-aware of themselves and their place in the culture that they sort of go through life "method acting".

Does this strike the same chord with anyone else that it does with me?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

brainworkings...isn't that a cool word?

Gina, did you see Jessa Crispin's comment about Sandman being the "gateway" book to comix? It's on the Bookslut blog, a day or two ago. I thought of you, and now I need to borrow Sandman from you. I have never really understood comics - I've read Maus (the other "gateway" book Crispin mentions) and its sequel, and even a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but nothing made me fall in love. Neil Gaiman: Make me love you, dammit!


I'm almost finished (about a hundred pages left) with Denise Mina's Deception, and I have to tell you, it's a ride! I have NO IDEA what is going to happen, I am completely unsure what's reality in the novel and what's the main character's neuroses/psychoses, and I am bracing for a hell of a twist. It is so intense I can't even attempt to read it when the boys are around. Wow.

Here's a terrific summary from Amazon of what I wish *I *could write about the book:

Most critics agree that her use of the “unreliable narrator” is masterful. She slowly reveals that all is not as it seems; even self-deception abounds. As Mina peels away the onion, the househusband with tenacious loyalty to his convicted wife has his own questionable agenda. Deception keeps you guessing, yet manages to be much more than a mere whodunit, thanks to Mina’s strong psychological characterizations.


I found out the twist at the end of Million Dollar Baby - so my weird curiosity is satisfied without having to go see a movie I am not interested in. Why am I interested in the twist when I am not in the movie? Who knows? I've long ago stopped trying to figure out my screwed-up brainworkings.

Enter Sandman

Oh my God! As I typed that title, it occurred to me to wonder whether the Metallica song has anything to do with Gaiman's Sandman? I think they came out around the same time . . . pause while I investigate . . . nevermind. The song is not an homage to the comic, because they both were released in 1991. Oh, well. Now I'm going to have the song in my head all day. Great. I'm a 34-year-old single mom who reads comics and walks around singing Metallica. Maybe it's good that I'm not planning to write a personal ad anytime soon.

Anyway, I read Preludes & Nocturnes last night, and I won't say that I'm hooked to the point of going back to B&N and dropping $160 to scarf up the whole series, but I'm very interested. I'm going to request the titles from the library and then keep my eyes open for used copies. I want to own them, eventually.

The story itself is basic, and clearly a beginning, but I really like Gaiman's writing. He seems to be serious about exploring dreams and fear, but he's not at all pompous about it; he allows himself to be funny and gross, and I really appreciate that.

And I think I'm going to have to read Hellblazer, because John Constantine shows up in a chapter here, and he's SO COOL! :-) I don't know that Keanu Reeves will do him justice, though. Part of what's so enjoyable about Constantine is his rakishness--Ewan McGregor seems like he'd be the perfect candidate.

To sum up here and stop babbling, The Sandman is fast and cool and engaging. It feels almost more like watching a cool movie than reading a book, but it's enjoyable. And who knew I had an inner teenaged boy?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

If you don't have anything nice to say...whatever...

I am reading Ayelet Waldman's The Big Nap - brain candy between Edith Wharton and Josip Novakovich's April Fool's Day which my-friend-who-I-don't-know-what-to-call-him sent me in the mail. Is there a nicer thing to do for anyone other than mail them a book you think they'd like? If there is, tell me, but I doubt I'll agree. (Although the sainted people who brought me dinner after I had my babies come very very close. Even if I don't much like stuffed peppers.)

I am finding it very difficult to concentrate on reading much of anything at the moment between the head cold which has turned me into a mouth-breather, and the perpetual nausea. Even my usual comfort books- Laurie Colwin and LM Montgomery - are too involved with food, and make me want to throw up. I know it all passes by the fifth month or so, but in the meantime, I have books piled up. Damn it, I have reading to do!

Sorry, now I am just grumping. I *don't* have anything nice to say, so I'll shut up now.

Although I have to say, Hi Kate! I'm so glad to finally "meet" you : )

Recent Reads

I only managed to complete 150 pages of _Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell_ before I had to return it to the library. While I've been waiting for a friend to finish with his copy, I've read a couple of interesting things:

_An Evening of Long Goodbyes_, by Paul Murray

This novel, which was shortlisted for the Whitbred, has a strange disconnect between style and content. It is written as a farce, but examines the class system in Ireland and what it means to be actively engaged with the world.

_The Monk Downstairs_, by Tim Farrington

This is a gentle, grown-up love story about a relationship between an ex-monk and a single mother. It has religious themes, some of which I understood (the contemplative life vs. the active life) and some I'm not sure I did (the nature of God and faith).

No Self Control

I just went out for lunch, and there was a parking space in front of B&N, so of course I had to stop. I got the first book in The Sandman series, Everything is Illuminated (that NYT article really made me feel the love, and I wanted to make sure to get my copy before it starts being sold with a movie cover), and The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily for Teddy. I can't decide what to read first, but I think I'm going to throw over The Crimson Petal and the White for the Gaiman.

The girl who checked me out held up The Sandman and grinned at me, and I told her I was excited because I'd just read Marvel 1602 and couldn't wait to try some more. She said, "It sounds like someone's about to start a wonderful journey," in this really sing-song voice. A little creepy, yes, but it was nice to see someone so excited about what she was selling me.

There was no book buying in my budget, but I spent the money anyway. I have no impulse control and shouldn't be allowed near any stores that sell books. Oh, well. I suppose I could have a thing for shoes or purses or jewelry or something.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

dribs and drabs

I have been sniffling and sneezing and generally feeling awful, so have not posted, but I have been reading....

I picked up a Denise Mina at Half Price Books and am finding it very intense. So much so that I am tempering it with an old Elinor Lipman novel I do not remember reading, The Way Men Act.

And each night, to cleanse my brain before I try to sleep, I read a chapter of Dead Men Do Tell Tales. I know most people would be hard-pressed to read this book before bedtime, but I find it interesting, and weirdly soothing. It really is a wonder I am not some sort of bizarre serial killer, isn't it?

I picked up the only MFK Fisher novel in existence at the library yesterday for 50 cents. I wonder if it could be any good? Also for 50 cents I bought The Mermaids of Chenonceaux, An Anecdotal Guide to Europe, in case I ever get back there, I thought it might be fun to have. And Journey to the End of the World: A three-year adventure in the New Hebrides. I sheepishly admit that I did not even know where the New Hebrides were (let alone the old ones) before yesterday afternoon.


I had a very strange dream last night featuring, of all people, my high school vice-principal. I was reading a book about a doctor during a plague epidemic, and he was interested in what I was reading. So am I, frankly. I wonder if it's a real book, and if so, how can I get my subconscious to conjure up the title?