Friday, May 28, 2010

I can't stop reading this book

Thanks to everyone who recommended books! I have so many I need to buy now, I may need to start a fund.

In the meantime, I found a un-put-downable book I feel I need to share -- LITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave. I haven't finished yet, but so far, it's the kind of book that makes me both so in love and so very jealous. His writing is...stunning. I'll go back to reading the second I finish this blog post. I'm completely sucked in, but fair warning: at times, it's pretty graphic.

Now, I know this book isn't new. Honestly? I picked it up in the bookstore several times because of the gorgeous cover reminiscent of Kara Walker's work (some is NSFW.) The jacket copy, though, was coy, and I generally don't have time to read the first few pages while browsing/kid wrangling in the bookstore. If I had, I would've bought it a long time ago.

That said, I get why they gave almost nothing about the story away, so neither will I. It involves a Nigerian orphan and a well-to-do British woman and that's all I'm saying. The flap of the book reads:

We don't want to tell you WHAT HAPPENS in this book.

It is a truly SPECIAL STORY and we don't want to spoil it.

NEVERTHELESS, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:

This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again - the story starts there ...

Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.

If you, like me, read this and thought, "Ugh, just tell me what happens already," don't worry about it. Just start reading. You'll be up late.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I need a book

Yes, I'm crowdsourcing again. I stopped by my local B&N and nothing was speaking to me. Maybe because Fiction is right next to the children's section and it was utter chaos in there, as usual, and I lost my mojo. (Seriously, I don't understand why people think it's okay to use the bookstore as an indoor playground / snacking area. I mean, picking out new books with junior is great, but I see people meeting up there for group playdates. *Large* group playdates. Which, I suppose is fine, whatever, but come on, don't let your kids rip the books and spill applesauce all over the carpet. Also? Maybe once in a while buy something. Despite the crowds, the register is typically line-free.)

Anyway! Where was I? Oh yes, books. I just finished THE RED THREAD by Ann Hood which was about six couples trying to adopt daughters from China and the woman who runs the agency. I enjoyed it. It does, however, violate my friend's No Dead Babies rule. Still, excellent. I was also carrying around some selected short stories from Raymond Carver in my purse and I finished that up, too.

My daughter is reading THE HUNGER GAMES for the fourth consecutive time. I asked her if she was getting bored of it and she said, "I love it so much I don't want it to end!"

I want to feel that way! You guys are always great with suggestions. What have you read recently that you loved?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm not going *there*

Browsing in a bookstore with my lurky friend the other day, I picked up a book (I can't even remember which one) and recommended it to her. "Oh!" I said, "This one's good."

She scanned the jacket flap and placed it back on the shelf. "Nope. Can't read it. I don't do dead babies."

Hmm. I get that. Although dead babies are okay by me (in FICTION. Fiction!) as with all sorts of violent acts. Rapes, murders, beheadings (I'm looking at you, Anne Boleyn) -- all good. It's not like I seek out gore, but I can deal with it. I read a lot of Joyce Carol Oates, so yeah. She goes there.

Still, there are probably some places where JCO won't go. I don't know this for certain. It's not like we're buds. But I can imagine. Even I, reader of savage and dispicable acts, have my limits.

Here's one: I don't do 9/11. I'm sure there are a great many wonderful books written about the human drama in the aftermath, Uh-uh. It's still too raw, and frankly, I don't think I'll ever be able to go there. While I didn't personally see the towers go down (I live uptown), just living in the city in the weeks that followed was quite enough for me, thanks. No need to revisit.

My youngest daughter likes animal books, but she doesn't do dead dogs. No Old Yeller, no Where the Red Fern Grows. Nosireebob. Dead people? Sure! Just not dogs.

How about you? Where won't you go?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I can't get

I met a friend for lunch yesterday in the very suburban-mall-esque Time Warner Center. She told me she she'd been working on a novel (hooray! another soul joins the ranks of the insane!) and asked me how I keep myself motivated to finish such a ginormous project.

I wish I had a secret potion, or a little robot overlord to thwack my knuckles when I start to slack off, but the truth is, it's always been a struggle.

A few years ago, when the hubs and I were faced with the super-fun task of finding a New York City kindergarten for our then-four-year-old, we toured a fabulous school with amazing resources and facilities. Our guide kept repeating the mantra "We ADORE SELF-MOTIVATED KIDS!"

Um, okay, great. Was my preschooler self-motivated? She was certainly motivated to get me out of bed before dawn or harass me for a dollar when we passed the guy selling flavored ices from a cart. But overall? Who the hell knew. If she was anything like her mother, I guessed not.

Deadlines work well for me, but they are tough to keep when they are only self-imposed. The tried and true Butt In Chair method is the way to go, provided you don't cheat (guilty.)

I wasn't quite sure what advice to give.

Do you have any methods to share? She lurks (hi!), so she'll benefit from your sage advice.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Lone Sock never dies

It will surprise no one to hear I was a journalism dork in high school. That's right, I was going to be the next Sam Donaldson (well, in a bra and an armful of rubber bracelets.) My h.s. newspaper, The Parkviewer, gave me my very own monthly column. I could name it whatever I like, and choose any subject I wanted.

Oh, the power! And the importance of selecting just the right title. What should it be? It needed to draw readers in, of course, and also reflect something about me. I pondered this many a night, sitting under my Duran Duran poster. Oh, Simon, tell me the answer! And then it came to was...brilliant! THE LONE SOCK!

Yes! A bit of rebelliousness mixed with the angsty lonely teenage-y feeling of being left out, discarded, not quite fitting with the rest. SO FREAKING PERFECT!

Except that no one got it. "You wanna call it what?" my journo teacher asked. "Well...okay."

Then the reviews came in:

"I liked your article, but, um, what's the title mean?"
"I thought it would be about laundry."
"Do you have some sort of sock problem? I see you're wearing two today."

Yeah. Oh well. Maybe it wasn't so perfect.

Strangely enough, my daughter's school asked me to write some articles for their parent newsletter next year. They are meant to be light in tone--like a column. I told my husband this and he said, "Just like the Lone Sock! It lives!"

I promise I won't give it that title.

How about you? Did you ever have a brilliant idea fall flat?

Monday, May 3, 2010

TMI, honey.

I've been pondering a blog post for the last few days. One that you've probably read if you are the reading-publishing-blogs type. Agent Jessica Faust wrote about how getting too TMI or political on the internet can hurt your career. And I agree.

Hmm. Some of what she said probably pertains to me. Although I keep most of my political leanings to myself (I will, however, post a feminist diatribe when provoked), I do get personal sometimes. Okay...frequently. If you don't believe me, see this post about my butt. I'd say writing about one's own backside is about as personal as it gets, wouldn't you? Jeez, I *hope* I'm not hurting my career! What she said has been making me think, that's for sure.

There are some blogs I read solely to garner the information within. Galleycat is one. Gawker and Jezebel have interesting stories, with their own (snarky) spin.

But some of my favorites I read because they are entertaining or make me laugh. Dooce comes to mind. If you are going the personal route, ya gotta do one (or more) of the following:

Have an angle
Melanie Avila wrote a blog about her experience as an American living in Mexico, and dealing with a her fish-out-of-water life and her husband's immigration status. It was interesting, especially when the drug violence began to heat up all around her. Now she's back in the states and I'm hooked on her story.

Bring the funny
I LOVE funny blogs. You can write about *anything* if you make it funny and I'm so there. I recently followed Tawna Fenske's hilarious tweets to her hilarious blog. You should do so, too. Debra Schubert and Colby Marshall are among the funny ranks as well. (Plus, Colby owns one of those naked cats. Naked cats = funny.)

Make it poignant
Janna over at Something She Wrote has the gift of noticing the little things in life, and how they relate to the big. Her blog has great insights.

All of those are pretty personal, and that's what make them great.

If you have a blog, what is it about? Or, if you're a reader, what kind of blogs keep you coming back?

Feel free to pimp your blog with a link in the comments.