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Showing posts from November, 2013

Thanksgiving: "We will sell our bracelets by the roadside; you will play golf and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres."

Thanksgiving. American Thanksgiving. Which, let's be honest, is the only real one, because I don't think any of you Canadians double-crossed Native Americans after they taught you how to plant corn. JOKE'S ON US ANYWAY, because then we grew TOO MUCH and made it into fake sugar and it's in everything and making us lardmonsters.

But Thanksgiving. 


I'm grateful for some book-related things. The fact that I had to explain my "Wilkie OMG" shirt to my roommate the other day, and that the explanation was "my book blogging friends" (which is obviously a thing) and I had the shirts made after we did a group readalong of a Wilkie Collins novel, and when you say it out loud GOOD LORD THAT IS THE NERDIEST THING IN THE HISTORY OF NERDDOM but there it is.

I'm grateful pretty much every damn week I'm in Chicago that libraries exist. The library is a giant free storehouse of information, entertainment, and, if you're lucky, escalators. I'm trying t…

Tell the Wolves I'm Home: "I am average at English and I am average at math, but I was not going to be average at looking after Toby."

Occasionally in book blogging circles, so many people read/review a book well that you begrudgingly (if you're me) say "FINE. *FINE.* I will read this damn thing." And then you usually like it and are strangely irritated about liking it. "I GUESS you guys are awesome and have awesome opinions. I guess."


Tell the Wolves I'm Home, for the two of you who haven't read it, is a first person narration about a girl in the 1980s whose uncle contracts AIDS and dies from it. The uncle (Finn) was her favorite person on earth, and she finds out after he dies that he'd been in a relationship for years with a man named Toby, who is now all alone. The majority of the book is about her friendship with Toby, and this all sounds like a huge bummer, BUT I REALLY LIKED IT AND IT'S REALLY GOOD AND YOU SHOULD READ IT.

You know all those times I'm like "ughhhh this is too sad I can't get into it"? Yeah. This bypasses that by being awesome AND not maud…

Real life once again intrudes on book world because some asshole tried to break into my apartment

You know when you wake up at 1:30 in the morning because you hear a noise, and you're usually like "Bah, whatever, house settling, etc"? But then sometimes you're like "Hmm. That was a very specific 'bang' sort of noise and my roommate isn't home"? Yeah, so that happened last night, and I went into the kitchen, where the lights were still blaring because I fell asleep with them on, and I heard another bang and must have decided 'fuck it' because I pulled up our shades and without being able to see anything, heard A PERSON DIRECTLY OUTSIDE MY WINDOW start to make what sounded like an apology, but in words I couldn't understand. I yelled "GET OUT" and immediately called the police. While I was on the phone with them, I saw his shadow hop the fence.

Which is how I had two members of the Chicago Police Department knocking on my door just before two in the morning last night. Two HANDSOME members of the Chicago Police Department…

How okay is it not to like something because it's popular?

How okay is it not to like something because it's popular?


Probably not okay at all if we get down to it. That's gonna be the real message here. But my 13-year-old "I will not be identified with the masses" asshole self starts champing at the bit when some new literary craze happens. "WELL. That's obviously dumb if soccer moms can get something out of it." You know what? Let's lay off soccer moms. Think of the book Main Street and then think of their lives. Let them have their moments of bookish inspiration. They don't have time to read all of Flaubert, but maybe they DO have time to get drunk with their book group and discuss the latest Rebecca Wells novel (who I am NOT making fun of; I love the shit out of those Ya-Ya books).

But there's definitely a natural instinct, for SOME reason, to not want to just be lumped in with a bunch of other people who like something. In this case, a book. I'm not gonna say that's what happened for me…

Why do we like reading?

Why the hell do we like reading.

I certainly can't figure out the answer for the rest of you, so I'm going to have to puzzle through my own reasons. Is it the craving for narrative? But film answers that so well, and it's so much more passive. Mmm, passivity.




Most people who classify themselves as 'readers' seem to have been that way since they were little inchworms. I have very few memories of early experiences with books and reading. One of the earliest I can remember was a stunning bluff I put to my brother as I arrogantly proclaimed "I can read that," regarding the cover of a National Geographic -- a bluff that was swiftly brought to its reckoning by my brother's clever "What does it say then?" riposte.

Other than that, my next memory is already being able to read, sitting in my parents' ridiculously big Whirlpool tub (I've always been a small person, and the jets used to be able to push me in a big circle around the tub, renderi…

John Stuart Mill thinks Emerson is a man-baby

DID YOU ALL SEE HOW SASSY JOHN STUART MILL WAS ABOUT EMERSON?

First off, if you don't know, John Stuart Mill was an English philosopher/economist/hilarious person of the Victorian Age. We're pissed at him because he liked Utilitarianism, which was a dumb movement, but I don't even care anymore, because this article makes him the best.

As his obituary in The Times observed, Mill was a candid controversialist, but he was ‘too amiable to indulge in scorching sarcasm or inflict unnecessary pain’. In his spontaneous marginalia, however, Mill was free to indulge his private opinions without fear of causing offence.
AND WHAT PRIVATE OPINIONS THEY WERE.



This is basically the equivalent of taking a book like The Secret and scrawling "The Secret (to Being Dumb)"on the title page.

This article contains gems like:

Mill took exception to Emerson’s poetry, which he often crossed out.
And later in the essay where Emerson wrote that ‘every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of …

Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Who thought this was a good idea?

Late-night shower singing of Disney songs prompts some important questions, chief among them being: was Disney drunk when it decided to make Hunchback of Notre Dame?

Don't get me wrong — I love that movie (minus the gargoyles, aka the one weak attempt to make it seem like an actual children's movie). I will classify it as 'underappreciated,' along with Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Home on the Range. The score and setting are gorgeous, the story was written by Victor Hugo, and Tom Hulce, aka Mozart, does the voice of Quasimodo. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR.



Disney seemed to be experimenting a bit in the '90s. It went from fairytales to The Lion King -- which is kind of based on Hamlet -- to a bastardization of the Pocahontas story, i.e. actual historical events, to...a 19th century French novel about a deformed man who lives in a belltower.



I just really really wish I could've heard the initial pitch.

"So, how about we do the Twelve Dancing Princesses next? Th…

Illinois: Passing Marriage Equality by Two Votes

So yesterday.

Yesterday, after much debate on the floor, the Illinois House passed SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (we've learned what these things need to be called). The Senate quickly voted it through, and when our governor, Pat Quinn, signs it, people can start applying for marriage licenses in Illinois on June 1st, 2014.




Of course, it wasn't quick. Illinois will be the 15th state to pass marriage equality, which is far down the line, but not like Arkansas-far. Hawaii's looking like a probable 16th. Prior to last year, only six states had passed legislation supporting marriage equality, so it's jumped from six to fifteen in two years, and from opponents being able to say they've never lost a popular vote on the issue to having to resort to arguments like "But that bakery in Washington."

Not that I want this to be an antagonistic post. This was a very, very long time coming in Illinois and I'm still in shock over it having passed…

Donna Tartt: Quotey and Less Intimidating Than Expected

Donna Tartt came to Chicago.

For those unaware, Donna Tartt wrote The Secret History and The Goldfinch (and also a third book that no one really talks about). She also has author pictures that cause hardened warriors to quake in their spike-tipped boots.


I liked The Goldfinch. And I like author events. And Donna Tartt looked so impressively terrifying that I had a whole plan of going up to the author table and being AS CHEERFUL AS I COULD POSSIBLY BE to see what happened.

So I went to Northwestern's Thorne Auditorium and sat in a seat that yielded this blurry picture (Tartt is, of course, on the right):



The audience was mostly made up of gay men and older women. So I distrust my own reactions to the program, because maybe everyone aside from my friend Jeff and myself was fascinated by the talk and thought some very probing questions were put to Ms. Tartt. What seemed to happen, though, was the following:

Moderator: "You're so awesome at everything. How do you do that?"

Ta…