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Nick Hornby
Haven Kimmel
Julie Orringer
Dan Savage
Connie Willis
Tracy Chevalier
Tayari Jones
Steve Almond
Susanna Moore
A.M. Homes

what I read in:
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2004 : 2005

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Wednesday, November 26, 2003
a reason to read

There will be many headaches and much queasiness while I grow accustomed to my new reading glasses. I'm not sure that they rest correctly on my face. My right ear could be higher than the left. What I need is a level to place on the top of the frames to know for sure. Now there's an idea for a product whose time has come.

I can't say that I don't like John Updike since I've never read any of his work. But, a friend of mine was forced to read his rabbit series for lit classes and she hated them. She told me how inane they were and based on her opinion I chose to avoid his work. No doubt I'll continue upon that path. But, there's a review in the New Yorker (something else I don't read) of a new collection of his short stories. Maybe I should give him a try. But, I promise not to struggle along if I cannot digest his writing.

Last night I started Adam Haslett's You are not a stranger here. While it is a marvy collection of short stories, it is also one of those dread "today's book club" selections. The first story was brilliant, about an elderly man who visits his favorite son who is gay. The son begs his father to take his medication to no avail. The father's mind races along as he drafts specs for a solar powered bicycle that he'll market to retired folks who have too much time and nor enough energy of their own. And, the second story was slightly disturbing, about a new psychiatrist who makes a home visit to a depressed patient. But really, the collection engages me. There's a liveliness to Haslett's prose; an undercurrent that grabs my attention and won't turn me loose.

I belong to an honor society now. Touch me. My hesitation at joining any group that would want me has lessened over the years and the thought of such an affiliation doesn't trouble me as much now.

I've got to read Amanda Stern's book. I'll put it on my long list of things to read. now, if I can just find the list....

Holidays are one of the best times for reading. I'm away from work and usually have a fair amount of free time to spend with a book. I was the adolescent who always brought a book along to family events. It was easier to immerse myself in another world than to relate to the reality surrounding me. Oh, it wasn't bad at all, nothing to write sad stories about. I was terribly shy, and depending on whose home I was in, there were between eight and thirty other people flitting around. Books make sense, and they keep you out of the way of kitchen traffic jams as well. But, you have to learn to drown out the loud voices, children playing, and NASCAR, or wretched football games, blasting from the TV.

Monday, November 24, 2003

I'll have to read Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake. There's a write up about it at NYT today. She was her father's muse. James was his name. There's a bit about Dale Peck over at the Observer. He's the one who proclaimed that Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation. Lavanya Sankaran's story at the Atlantic is interesting, but I'm not sure I got it, really. Her short story collection should be published next fall.

Every secret thing was okay, not as good as the other book I've read by Laura Lippman. Maybe it was the subject matter. Or the ending. I'm just not sure. I like having definite ideas about books after I read them,you know, like whether I got anything out of it or not, and I think that's the goal, but often books leave me hanging without a clear idea of what the story was about. All the loose ends were tied up, but I didn't feel the ending.

I've been complaining about books with multiple POV's and what do I do, but go and read ANOTHER one with multiple POVs. Liars and saints spans about sixty-some years. It begins with Teddy and Yvette, a young couple. He's gone off to fight in the war, and she stays home and raises his daughters. So we get parts of the story from Yvette's perspective, then Teddy's, then Margot, then Clarissa. Sometimes I wonder about the chronology, things don't align perfectly. It wasn't until page 68 that I decided I wasn't interested in the book. But since I read so far into it, and the pacing is good, you whiz right through it, I decided to finish it. It's one of those multi-generational stories. Steeped in Catholicism. A few really weighty family secrets that different people keep quiet for different reasons. The author drew me in, I did remain somewhat interested in how things would play out in the end. But, what I disliked about the book is that everything was so tidy. Whenever a problem came up, it would be dealt with so quickly...well, it was gone in no time. Nothing was ever complicated. The problems and solutions seemed formulaic. Since there were seven or eight different POVs, there was never any chance to really connect with any of the characters. My favorite was Jamie, and I would rather have read the entire book from his point of view. The rest of the characters were pretty generic. Most reviews I've read suggest that Meloy's short story collection was much better.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Instead of digging deeper into Rest in peace, I fell into Laura Lippman's new book Every secret thing and haven't pried myself away yet. Okay, yeah I did. The book and I are apart just now, because I'm at work, but I'm hoping to finish it tonight. I've got a few more chapters; I'm two-thirds of the way through the thing, or maybe closer to three-quarters of the way. Lippman writes solid mysteries. They're tight, well-plotted, and just darn good for genre fiction. There are a lot of mysteries that I don't like because their fluffiness is ridiculous.

Lippman is very good. Although, I'm not sure about her characterizations. This book opens with two childhood friends walking home from a birthday party. Somehow they end up kidnapping a baby and it dies in the Chicken Man's shack in Leakin Park (this is Baltimore, btw). Both girls blame each other for the infant's death and they serve seven years in juvenile detention centers until they turn eighteen. This story picks up the year they're released. Everything goes okay in the city until suddenly another baby that's freakishly identical the first one, Olivia, is kidnapped. Olivia's mother thinks it's either of these two girls, Ronnie or Alice.

Two things I don't like about the book. First, Ronnie and Alice aren't very distinct from each other. They were in the opening chapters, but now, they read like the same character with the same motivations, same attitudes, same voice. The other thing is that there are multiple points of view going on in the book; much like I mentioned with Jennifer Government, I don't like it. So we're inside Alice's former public defender's bed, office, and mind. Then we're inside Olivia's mother's head, then Ronnie's, then Alice's, then the cop who broke the case seven years earlier when she was just a cadet. Lots of POV shift going on here.

Other than the excellent writing and plotting, my favorite thing about the book is that one of the scenes takes place at one of the libraries in Baltimore County's system.

Here's the copy from the author's web site describing the book: On a July afternoon two little girls, banished from a birthday party, take a wrong turn onto an unfamiliar Baltimore street -- and encounter an abandoned stroller with a baby inside it. Dutiful Alice Manning and unpredictable Ronnie Fuller only want to be helpful, to be good....Seven years later Alice and Ronnie are heading home again -- only separately this time, their fragile bond long shattered, their secrets still closely kept. Advised to avoid each other, they enter a world where they essentially have no past. In exchange, they are promised a fresh start, the chance to mold their own future.

The front flyleaf contains the bit about the two girls taking a wrong turn, but then it continues with the seven years later part. I thought the book would be about two girls who were kidnapped by a cult or pornographers, or pimps, or even the government, who then went through terrible ordeals or secret training/indoctrination. Then they were released, but how do they account for their absence? What stories do they tell to explain where they've been, what they've done, and what agenda were they given to carry out in the greater world. Yeah, I'm a touch of a literary drama queen, and have a generous, garish imagination. So this book is slightly disappointing because it failed to conform to my ideas, but, it's a really good alternate.

Leakin Park sounded really familiar to me. I've only been to Blto once for the ACC Craft Fair, even though my mom was born there and her family ties are there. One of my relatives told me that my great-grandmother, or maybe my GG grandmother Ritter owned property that later became part of the park. It was sold out from under her by my reprobate great-grandfather Weitzel.

Thursday, November 20, 2003
kate spade in sight

My inner dork came out to play today. At my annual eye exam my optometrist told me I needed reading glasses. Hurrah! I'm trying not to think about my eyes beginning their decline. But, at least I've got thirty-some years of excellent vision in my pocket. Regardless, I've always wanted glasses, and now I get them! Only for reading and close work like knitting or being in front of my pc at work, which is everyday. I picked out lovely Kate Spade frames and I should get to pick them up on Saturday. One more thing for me to keep track of, but maybe the headaches will go away. Now all I need to complete the image are sensible shoes (which I wear in the summer) and a navy suit.

I barely got through the acknowledgements in Rest in peace : a cultural history of death and the funeral home in twentieth-century. I took it with me to my appointment this morning, but that office is on the ball, so very little waiting time for me. I've been meaning to read Jessica Mitford's books, American way of birth and American way of death, but haven't gotten around to it. Sure, death has its appeal, but I'm most interested in the industry.

The International Impac Dublin literary award longlist was released a few days ago. Crimson Petal and the White made it, as did Fingersmith. I've avoided reading The Lovely Bones on some strange principle that fails to impress me, but it too made the list. And so did Secret Life of Bees, which I enjoyed reading a few years ago. It's a Long list, but will be a great place to start when I'm searching for new titles to read.

Song reader was fabulous. It's a story of two sisters whose father leaves them and then a few years later the mother dies. So the older sister raises the younger. The older sister is Mary Beth and she's a song reader. That's like a palmist or psychic. You tell her what songs are running through your head, she keeps a chart, and then examines the songs and lyrics for reoccurring themes. Then something happens, but I won't tell you what because you should find out for yourself. This was so excellent. I read it in about four hours last night/this morning. My plan was to start it, read for thirty minutes to an hour before turing out the light and going to sleep. But no, I could not. I didn't want to stop; I was sucked in and didn't want leave. Tucker writes so well, her pacing is perfect, and her hints drive the reader forward. LeeAnn, the younger sister tells this coming of age story beginning at age eleven and ending at fifteen, maybe sixteen. Her narrative voice is strong and lean. There are tons of musical references, mostly to song titles, old and new. But LeeAnn especially comments on current ones (this takes place in the late 70s, early 80s) like Soft Cell's Tainted Love, and before that, Joan Jett's I love rock 'n' roll and Kim Carnes's "Bettie Davis eyes," even. I'm sadly out of touch with today's music though. I can't wait to read Chris Tucker's second book which doesn't come out until April 2004.

Just one more thing to blame on Bush: 40% of young African-American males are unemployed.

My horoscope says I should "Feast on unpredictable stories that replenish your innocence and rekindle your sense of wonder." It suggests Clarissa Pinkola Estes's Women Who Run With the Wolves that I read twice about ten years ago. Once for "fun," and then again for a philosophy of feminism class. The second time around was dreadful because my feelings for the book were ambivalent. I loathe it now.

Oh yuck, Time traveler's wife is one of those Today Show book club things. I've been on the list for it at the public library forever, but only because I saw it at the bookstore and was in a rare mood not to buy books. The state should totally supplement my book buying. Totally. Jennifer & Brad have the movie rights to this one. Now I remember why I want to read it. Main character is a time traveling librarian.

And then I finished reading Jennifer Government yesterday morning. I've already written that it reminds me of Pattern Recognition, but in retrospect, I think it's more similar to Snow Crash. Several different characters all converge. As I recall, that's the Danielle Steel formula as well. It's not my favorite device. Oh hey, Tom Clancy uses that, too. Yeah, I don't think it's terribly effective. But, JG was a fun, quick read; fast paced, too. Maybe something appropriate for an airplane. Easy to dip in and out of between beverage cart runs. It's certainly not literary fiction. But not everything has to be. I don't always want to read that stuff anyway.

Must read Innovative fiction and the american literary magazine later. Perhaps I was hasty by not renewing my subscription to Bitch and Bust.

Reading confession: I've not had time to devote to regular reading for the past two weeks. I had to finish up the Slosson entry and then had to make revisions to my Bloor DLB entry, so I've been staying late at work, writing and revising, and fact checking. I'm drained by the time I get home and fall onto my couch and flip on the tube. Bad Rebecca. Geez, if I put two and two together, throw in a little eye strain, then it all makes sense. But, slow and steady wins the race.

Four more books to read by the end of December and I've read the same number this year as last year, 106. Maybe there's still time to exceed that number. I'm thinking maybe 8 more this year; that's my new goal.

It's no surpise that my favorite Twilight Zone episode is about a bookworm. Did someoen say something about a short fiction revival? Say it ain't so... Those Brits have done it again. Lit Idol, coming soon to a website near you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003
fictional notions & business potions

I forget where I got the notion to read Richard Ford's short story collection Multitude of sins: stories. But, I checked it out from the public library and read "Privacy," which was short, interesting, and engaging. It's about a fellow living in the city (NYC I think) who peeks at a nude woman across the way with his opera glasses. Then I tried to read the next two stories, but they didn't draw me in.

Normally demographics, clustering, and allied subjects coupled with privacy issues floats my boat. My enthusiasm for Naked consumer: how our private lives become public commodities almost helped me plough through the prose. Oh, it wasn't difficult reading. It was uninteresting. The premise was great, and it promised a lot, but the text got too bogged down in the history of advertising. I wanted to know more about marketing campaigns and psychology and invasive technology. After all, the book is described as a "paranoid look at how market researchers and giant databanks invade our privacy and compile vast amounts of information that could be used against individuals or groups." I flailed and sank and decided to put the book away and maybe try some of Erik Larson's articles instead.

Douglas Coupland didn't coin the term McJob, after all; it was used as early as 1985.

The thought that Elsevier might tumble and/or be forced to change its business practices, thrills me.

Tobias Wolff on forms of fiction.

Jennifer Government moves really fast. There are at least a dozen characters that were introduced in the first thirty pages. This book piqued my curiosity several times, but I never pursued it. Parts of it remind me of Pattern recognition, only it's not so good. This is a world in which private corporations rule. Workers take on the company name as their surname. Our characters are Hack Nike, Hailey McDonald's, Billy NRA, etc. Since I work for a state university, would I be Rebecca University or Rebecca Tennessee? The latter has a ring to it. As a marketing strategy, Nike keeps their new shoe, the Mercury, out of stores, thus creating a false desire for the item. They release a few to athletic stores, but decide that ten kids who buy the shoes should be killed, which then will increase the value of the shoe hundredfold. Who knows where it will go from there? Celluloid, I say: Clooney and Soderbergh are developing JG for the screen.

Friday, November 14, 2003
rant: teacher deposits

I'm reading part three of Art of deception. Anecdotes about how people gained access to databases, personal information, etc. are all quite interesting. Oh yeah, the thing is, that SE's have to know the lingo of the organization they're trying to infiltrate and they must project confidence while on the phone with their mark or pretend like you're the authority figure. Use language that manipulates people, pushes their buttons, etc. It helps if you tell the person it's your first day, and you should always say that you're new to the company or are an outside consultant. Oh to be so crafty. Thing is, I've got library lingo down, but when do libraries ever have information (other than what potential terrorists are reading) that anybody wants?

There is no upside to being a state textbook depository library. All aspects are nightmarish. We receive tons of textbooks and keep them around for months. Teachers and parents are given access to the books so that they might find something to object to. At some point, the TBR? or some other governing body, decides which books will be used in K-12 across the state. We have to catalog those books and keep them in a special collection for several years. The other hundreds of books? They're surplused, probably pulped.

Today for example, a swarm of teachers infested my department. They buzzed around the common areas outside my office like it was their personal hive. They weren't making honey. Should I be so critical of teachers? After all, this was probably a field trip for them. An inservice day makes everyone giddy, doesn't it? Finally they quieted down, but it made me wonder whether they considered using their "inside voices" or if this is something they only teach children to do; do as I say, not as I do. Besides being in a library, a space that demands whispers, they were disrupting the workplace; disrespecting it and the workers. After shutting my door, I could still hear their shrill voices. Pity the poor workers in their cubicles who had no doors. Unfortunately I'm too sensitive to environmental changes. I wish it wasn't so. To be productive and stay on task, I need quiet, especially in the morning.

At least one thing will make my day, besides it being Friday: Curve: The female nude now. It's another book that I'll be reviewing for Library Journal. From glancing through it quickly, I can tell it's fabulous. Lots of photography, but paintings, mixed media, and sculpture are represented as well. Lots of artists are featured. Along with their work are short paragraphs describing their style, themes, etc. I've got the paperback copy, evidence of use marring it's covers. This is the third or fourth female nude and/or artsex book I've done for them. It could be a trend. Mulling it over, I review decorative arts, folk art, outsider art, feminist/women's art, Latino art and female nudes. It's all good, man.

Thursday, November 13, 2003
weak links

You are what you listen to. Gun, bong, pimp, whore? The Whitbred shortlist is out. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time made it, but I didn't have time to finish it. Gosh, I don't feel like I read very widely since I know only one title on their list. Must be stuck in a rut. Hug a southern artist: The Ogden Museum of Southern Art opened in NOLA.

After reading five or six chapters in Art of deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security last night, I turned out my light and slept few winks. Despite my lack of sleep today, I'm looking forward to reading more of the book and don't blame it for my exhaustion and burgeoning migraine. Social engineering has always fascinated me, and Kevin Mitnik cracks open the common ploys for eliciting information from people. Mainly women, it seems. Bless their hearts, their social conditioning--pleasing people-- aids SE's more than anything else. In trying to be helpful, they spill the beans again and again. But Mitnik also points out that some of the most successful SE's are women, because men fall for the sexy voice and a bit of flirt routine far too easily. Mitnik's guidebook for corporations points out security defects and gives pointers for strengthening the weak spots. Humans are the weak link.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Annie on my mind

Annie Trumbull Slosson was on my mind all yesterday. And she wouldn't let me sleep, either. My brain was on overdrive. I've been reading her stories and am finishing up an essay/entry on her for DLB. It seems that the more I learn about her, the more questions come up. I don't know here or why, but I've crossed over and Annie is a bona fide research obsession now. Many of her stories repel me for their heavy reliance on local color dialogue. Her characters are almost always eccentrics, and that's appealing. Lot's of nature appreciation going on in them, too. An element of the supernatural in the air, as well.

Naturally since I couldn't sleep, my mind twisted in strange ways. I recalled a favorite childhood book called Annie on my mind. From there my thoughts rested on various influential children's books I devoured night and day: The Silver Crown, and anything by Norma Klein, Judy Blume, Scott O'Dell, Madeline L'Engle, and Elizabeth George Speare. Oh, and I was such a Nancy (Drew) girl, too. And then there were all those biographies I couldn't live without; that I best remember by their covers. Before I knew it, it was 2 a.m. I scrounged for an ambien. Found the empty bottle. Cursed my partner. Found a bottle squirming with pills. Took one, and sleep finally came to stay.

You wake up and Madonna has written another book. I thought it couldn't get worse, but there is more bad academic writing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
hearing voices

You gotta hand it to those corporate freaks at McDonald's. They're upset because the latest Merriam-Webster included McJob's as an entry. MW's definition: low paying and dead-end work. But, Kroc's widow gave $200 million to NPR, so maybe in this case it evens out in the end.

Instead of pleasure reading last night, I heard an author read her work. Tayari Jones was smooth and cotton-candy voiced as she read portions from her book Leaving Atlanta. I've read a third of the book, but then decided not to finish it until later. Ms. Jones is my writing teacher this semester, and it felt odd to read her work while taking her class. One of her lines references librarians. Something like talking to a certain character in a loud voice would be like shouting at a librarian.

Afterwards, hubby and I watched our favorite show, OCC. Can't wait for the new season to start December 8th; at least there's something other than gross consumerism to look forward to next month.

Monday, November 10, 2003
picky picky

Toni Morrison is touring with her latest book.

It's good to have Molly Ivins on our side.

Thinking of calling the whole thing off (your wedding, ditz)? Read this first. And then try to get happy.

I started several books yesterday, but none suited me. The premise of Seduction of water was interesting, but I couldn't get beyond the first few pages. It's based on the selkie story, about the man who falls in love with the selkie who turns into a woman, etc. The set up for the novel was so tedious, I couldn't read any more to get past that into the meat of the story.

Traci Lords: Underneath it all, was well-written. The narrative seemed like her voice, and I'm interested in her story, but I was impatient and didn't want to read her mother's story first. But, the book contains many pages of color photos of Traci, and those were fun to look through.

I read one of Elizabeth Tallent's stories from her collection Honey. "Prowler" was about a man who denies his ex-wife visitation rights for their thirteen year old son. Then he goes by his ex-wife's apartment, finds her spare key in the flower pot, and falls asleep on the bed in the room his ex-wife decorated for their son. Yesterday must have been a monumental lack of patience day for me because I liked that story, but couldn't get into the other two in the collection that I tried out.

And Jincy Willet's stories didn't appeal to me at all. I browsed the first two or three in Jenny and the jaws of life: short stories and they didn't appeal to me. Strange confession: If stories aren't presented just the right way on the page, I can't overcome my aesthetic objections and read the work. Silly, I know. But long paragraphs with no breaks bog me down. It is visually difficult for me to read. Same thing with too much dialogue. Balance is key. Rick Moody uses long paragraphs in his work, but I can deal with it. His sentences brim with vitality. The energy Moody creates on paper is amazing. That's it, really.

I have two books on my bedside table and will decide which to read first: Sleeping beauties by Susanna Moore, and Art of deception by Kevin Mitnick.

Reference to Heidi Julavits keep popping up on my book radar, but I can't find her work in my regional library system!

Sunday, November 9, 2003
happy tales

Midwife's tale was good. Not fabulous, not terrible. A good solid first novel. I would probably recommend it to folks who like those kinds of stories. It spans about twenty years, I suppose. From the teens to the mid-thirties. It wasn't sentimental. It ended on a happy note, which was unexpected. Robert Morgan's bittersweet stories of Appalachia set the standard. Book has an article, basically a transcription of the conversation Morgan had with my favorite president, Jimmy Carter on the subject of their new Rev. War era books. I probably won't read either. I heard Morgan read from the book a few weeks ago and the bit he read was too much battle, which didn't interest me at all.

Friday, November 7, 2003
mawkish tails

Reifler's stories were pretty good; unsettling at times. I call them gothic. I always like characters who have tails (Katherine Dunn does such an excellent job with this); there were two in separate stories. One was a simple mutation the other was a dog who wanted to be a rat. The stories were pretty short, easy to read. A mixture of bizarre stories and sort of regular ones. Lots of tension, lots of hopeless characters. I'm ambivalent about the level of ambiguity in her work. On the on hand, I don't like for things to be explicitly spelled out for me. But then sometimes I totally miss the point and need clarification. An A-B-C kind of story is more satisfying than the K-Q-X type, but I engage more with the latter. Her photo is on the back flap of the dust jacket and she's unbelievably beautiful.

Started the Midwife's tale last night and read about seven or eight chapters. I try to read everything with an Appalachian setting, but I was afraid this would be another bittersweet warm & fuzzy kind of story. It's about three generations of West Virginia midwives. It begins in 1913 but I've no idea when it ends. Our girl has eyes for an older married man who lives on the same mountain as she. She delivers his wife's child and becomes good friends with her. Foreshadowing tells me that something is wrong with the child, that somehow there's a break between Elizabeth and Ivy, as her husband calls her. Elizabeth courts another man who goes off to Europe during WW I. He doesn't return.

This is the first time that I've noticed a shift in my reading tastes. I've always liked heartwarming sentimental kinds of southern or rural novels. But my approach to reading this one was different. If after reading so many pages I felt this book was too mawkish, I planned to put it down. There are points when the pacing drags along and we learn too much tertiary information, but it is a novel and those digressions are expected. I've kept on with it even though I'm pretty sure where the story is headed. Despite my assumption of its predictability, every now and again Gretchen Moran Laskas throws in a phrase that makes me think this story could turn dark. But yeah, I think I'm done with sentimental stories. They don't do it for me anymore. I want to be surprised; give me the freakish and bizarre.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003
choosing vivid chocolate minus fifteen

Might have to read Susannah Breslin's work. I read about her collection of short stories at Identity theory where she discusses Vivid and Porn Valley. Mostly porn, though at the end she plugs her book describing it as "short stories featuring midget love, mannequin fetishism, pornographers gone wild, and a bunch of other freaky things. It's Pornographic Postmodern Literature, which means you can't masturbate to it, or, at least, you really shouldn't, if you care about me, or my feelings, at all. It just came out in October. The book is a good time, and I would have to recommend it wholeheartedly." Breslin is a photographer, too.

Also at IT today is an interview with Vendela Vida. Her novel is next on my list of books to read, maybe after some Aikman. Neither Vida nor I eat chocolate. I like it in small portions, but as a whole dessert, it's probably the last item I'd choose.

My life is uncomplicated. I could give up all things electronic in an instant. I have plenty of time to read, but little patience with the larger world. I don't want my time frittered away by mea-corporations. How to disengage from it all? One solution I tried this morning was going to jiffy lube instead of my VW dealership for an oil change. The VW dealership wants me to leave my car so they can dick around all day and then change my oil at the last minute, while I wait to pick up my car. I took Nelly Reifler's collection of short stories along while I waited at Jiffy lube this morning and read maybe two of her super short stories before the guy called my name and told me they were done with my car. Under fifteen minutes. Very little reading time for me today.

Read the excellent preface to Art of George Rodrigue yesterday. Tried the introduction, but the florid prose put me off. Guess I'll have to wade through it anyway. The things I do for free books.

Monday, November 3, 2003
warm-fuzzies free zone

The only thing I read this weekend was another collection of short stories. My library has nothing by Amanda Davis, so I had to request Circling the drain: Stories via ILL. It was her debut. And, they were good. Some better than others, as usual. But just now, I cannot recall a single thing about them. My mind is blank. But, it is Monday and that is a good enough excuse for now. There is an award named after her. When her publisher wouldn't bankroll an author tour, her father flew her around on a book tour in his plane and they crashed into the NC mountains early this March. I'm jogging my memory. None of her stories were particularly cheerful, but they explored real emotions of mostly disturbed individuals. Yet, they weren't terribly bizarre. Kind of normal madness. Suicide appeared in two or three stories. Slightly surreal, I suppose.

There's an article about short stories at the NYT, but it's not very good. Long short story doesn't convey any new information.

And this chicklit thing is totally out of hand. Pam Anderson signed a $2 million deal to write two novels for Simon & Schuster. It is such bad form for celebrities to take money out of real writers' pockets. With an advance like that... gosh, a real writer, one who solely relies upon her work for support, could live for years and years on $2 million. I've read one of Pam's Jane columns when she first started writing them and it was okay. She may be a brilliant writer for all I know. But, it is the principle. I feel like I should jump on this bandwagon while it's generating money. However, that would be against my nature.

The only thing I killed this weekend was a black widow. I still feel guilty. I am not a spider-killer. I like having them in my house. Thankfully this one was outside on my front stoop in a small pile of wood that I shifted around for my twenty-three trick-or-treaters. I said a quick prayer of regret and forgiveness before I stomped it with my big black boot. It didn't crunch, it just smooshed. I might have left it there if the thought of little candy-seeking children milling about in its web didn't make me feel all responsible for their welfare.

Met a new dog Saturday. Button may be skittish, but her meercat move is adorable. And, she hates men.