This is a really enjoyable book, a super-modern workplace drama full of Snapchats and mysterious Twitter accounts and SDoree Shafrir! Wrote a novel!!!
This is a really enjoyable book, a super-modern workplace drama full of Snapchats and mysterious Twitter accounts and Slack emojis. It centers around an issue that is also thoroughly modern but certainly timeless too: What happens during and after an affair between a CEO and his subordinate? Can a young woman be believed to have given her consent in a scenario like this? What rights does a powerful man have to his privacy when he is engaged in a seedy drama of his own making? Should a drunken misstep in his personal life have a huge negative impact on his professional one? Can a woman taken advantage of become weaponized, to advance either her own aims or those of others? And on and on.
It's also a story of youth, ambition, relationships and their discontents, journalistic ethics, bromances, dick pics, selling dirty undies on Craigslist, and all sorts of other fun. I liked the twists and turns, and I particularly appreciated how generous Doree is with her characters. It would have been easy to turn several of them into clichés or monsters or two-dimensional stand-ins, but she never did. I also really enjoyed — as someone who has followed Doree for about a decade, since we were both very young gals trying to find our way in a brave new media landscape — making guesses about which of her workplaces had informed various scenes and elements in the story.
So, solid entry from Doree, which I'm stoked to have read. I hope she's got more novels gestating!...more
Everything I know about Tr*mp, I learned from Gary Trudeau, who's been brilliantly mocking the short-fingered vulgarian since practically before I wasEverything I know about Tr*mp, I learned from Gary Trudeau, who's been brilliantly mocking the short-fingered vulgarian since practically before I was born. It was a shrewd business decision over at Andrews McMeel to put out this compilation, but I'm glad they did — I'll consider reading it once every few months my civic duty until the monster has been deposed.
Also, in the meantime, who can make this into a gif where the "hair" just endlessly swirls around and around in a creepy unnatural way?
Really fantastic art; fairly predictable and one-dimensional story. I'd read more volumes if someone threw them at me, but I can't imagine I'll seek tReally fantastic art; fairly predictable and one-dimensional story. I'd read more volumes if someone threw them at me, but I can't imagine I'll seek them out.
Here's what we at at club — basically some muffins, an attempt at veggies, and a staggering amount of cheese. ...more
Okay so let's get this straight right up top: Alexandra Petri is funny AF. I discovered her during the halcyon days of the presidential debates (rememOkay so let's get this straight right up top: Alexandra Petri is funny AF. I discovered her during the halcyon days of the presidential debates (remember when all this was merely some CATASTROPHIC JOKE that would never actually come true????), doing these recaps which were just bonkersly hilarious. Here, please read them! First debate, second debate, third debate. She's also done funny riffs on Steve Bannon ("a dead lizard wrapped in a Confederate flag" lolol), Pizzagate, and Tr*mp's cabinet casting call, PLUS this uproariously fantastic essay called "Every state flag is wrong, and here is why" (protip: for once please read the comments). So, you see what I mean? She is SO GOOD.
But this book, an overly long collection of personalish, memoirish essays, is, unfortunately, not that good.
Look, some of them are good. Like the one about how she was obsessed with Robert E. Lee as a tween, or her treatise on competitive punning, or her saga of speed-dating at a Star Wars convention, or her weird and fun illumination of growing up a senator's daughter. But there is also sooooo much filler. And humor is really hard to sustain over the long haul; the jokes become more and more predictable and boring with constant near-repetition. So many of the essays have basically the same pattern, or are bloated with unnecessary asides, or meander and meander or just fall apart, or have these tacked-on endings or trumped-up beginnings that seem like an attempt to broaden the scope or add a meaning or moral but really just feel -- well, tacked on or trumped up.
Ugh, I hate writing negative reviews. I am such a fan of hers, and I intend to keep reading her column, and I'd love for her to sell lots of books so that she makes money and has more time to hone her craft and land bigger platforms from which to broadcast it.
So idfk, maybe here is my advice: Buy this book and put it in the bathroom or your beach bag and read the essays one at a time, spaced out and interspersed with lots of other stuff, and when you come to one that seems really bad, just skip it. Or else don't look back at the time she stretched a whole essay out of hearing a bell ring at David's Bridal, and instead march forward with her into the future, this terrifying future hurtling toward us all, one in which we will need the fuck out of sharp political satire to prop us up in our dark dark moments....more
This is a really fascinating and important book. I think Glidden overreached a bit, and that her publisher did her a disservice by not reigning her inThis is a really fascinating and important book. I think Glidden overreached a bit, and that her publisher did her a disservice by not reigning her in some, but this is still an amazing accomplishment.
Here's the setup: Glidden accompanies two journalist friends on a trip to the Middle East. The reporters are seeking out untold stories, like those of displaced Kurds in Iraq, Iranian refugees in Turkey, and Iraqis who fled to Syria. Glidden is there to investigate, essentially, how journalism works. They are joined by some acquaintances at various points on the trip, including an Iraq War veteran who is a childhood friend of one of the journalists.
Glidden recorded everything on the trip — hundreds and hundreds of hours of formal and casual interviews, conversations, stories, border crossings, nights out, nights in, ambient room tones, and on and on. The stories she and the journalists tell (check out the official versions on The Seattle Globalist) are, of course, harrowing, illuminating, devastating, and sometimes even uplifting. I can't imagine a more crucial moment to amplify the voices of refugees, the displaced, the extradited. Particularly for those whose knowledge of today's fractious, incredibly nuanced situation in the Middle East is lacking, Glidden provides historical context, current events leadups, and deeply moving tales. Those parts of the book are absolutely riveting.
She also spends a lot of time on herself and her friends. That makes sense, since this is not strictly a work of reportage but a sort of journalistic memoir hybrid. Much of this is also really interesting — picking apart the mechanics of how reporting gets done, how stories are selected and crafted, the endless behind-the-scenes discussions of what to tell and how to tell it. But a good deal of it also drags, and meanders, and repeats, and doubles back. The pacing of the book is pretty unbalanced; at first it seems like Glidden was intent on getting down every single minute of every single day, and the conversations are both more wide-ranging and somewhat more monotonous. As things proceed, especially toward the end of the trip, there are huge gaps and glosses, which makes it feel like she just wanted to be done with the thing already — understandable, of course, given its massive scope and the Sisyphean task she undertook to complete it.
One of the gals in my book club told us that Drawn & Quarterly doesn't believe in editing, allowing its writers full creative control over their output. That's a theoretically noble idea, but it reminds me of my hippie parents who, at first, didn't believe in punishing their children. Guess what happened? My sis and I were such tiny hellions that they eventually had to start in with some fucking discipline. By which I mean, although this book is an immense achievement, Sarah could have definitely used some guidance in shaping and honing such a sprawling, massive work.
If you'd like to hear about all this a little more coherently, another club member did a formal review of the book for Hyperallergic.
And most importantly, here's what we ate at club, from hommade gougères to Italian truffles: ...more
Friends, it is unbelievably, jaw-droppingly fantastic.
I am going to say something crazy, but even after a week of retrospection, I believe this is the best book I've read since The Goldfinch — which we all know I loved so much that it ruined me for all the rest of books forever. And yet! Though this is not so much like Tartt's masterpiece, it had the same deeply immersive pull, gave me the same charged, magnetic feeling that whatever I was doing was utterly irrelevant compared to getting back onto the couch (or the stoop, or the subway, or the line for the ATM) and inhaling this book into my blood.
So. Here is the story of Amina Eapen, first-generation Indian American living in Seattle and working as a wedding photographer after a Bad Thing happened that upended her photojournalism career. We join her as she receives a call from her Ma in New Mexico, who obliquely suggests that something is up with Dad — so obliquely, in a way so out of character for this intensely overbearing mother, that Amina pretty much drops everything and flies home lickety-split to figure out what's going on.
From there the story runs on parallel tracks, going backward in time and eastward in space to Amina's childhood and her last-ever visit to India, where there was a Great Family Blowout that would ultimately lead to tragedy; and forward into the next few months while we figure out what's up with dad, and on the way learn everything about this incredible family, their hopes and fears, their tears and triumphs, their deep though often staggeringly badly expressed love for one another, the lengths, both uplifting and detrimental, to which they will go to keep each other close.
This is a book made up of moments, beautiful crystalline moments like so many strung marbles — moments of tenderness, of rage, of joy, of camaraderie, of despair. The time Amina and her father build a janky slingshot called a Raccooner. The time Amina's narcoleptic brother falls asleep at the wheel and nearly rolls them onto a rushing highway. The time Amina runs into a disliked girl from high school at the mall years later and has the most cringingly awkward conversation. The time an aunt catches Amina and her brother smoking on the roof and heaves herself, pendulous bosom and all, right out the window to join them. The way a young Indian cousin reacts when Amina's parents bring him Nikes from America. The way the Eapens' patched-together "family" of other Indian Americans solves every problem by cooking astounding amounts of food for one another. The way they all talk, with this perfectly crisp Indian-British English, all full of Chee!s and Nah?s and "one" instead of "a" and so many funny bits of bilingual slang. The way we revisit onto our children the sins visited upon us by our parents, and the ways, a generation later, these mistakes can ultimately be (at least somewhat) rectified.
Also, to be clear, this is a book full of devastations. There are deaths and fires and cancer and mental unravelings that are as harrowing as the gorgeous parts are gorgeous. I cried many times over the course of this saga, and while typically that kind of sorrow would have made me quit a book forever, by then I loved these characters SO MUCH that I was there for it, I would never leave them in their times of tragedy, I would hold their hands and hold their gazes and follow them, as they followed one another, heads held high, into whatever abyss awaited us.
I don't know what else to say. This was simply a marvel, pitch-perfect family saga full of the most complexly human characters trying and failing and trying again to love each other, to save each other, to be there for each other no matter how much it takes from them to do so. I love this family and this book so much I, cannot believe I don't get to read about them anymore. ...more
This was a neat and consistently surprising book, which is a thing I love. Each time I was like, oh, okay, I understand the story that I'm reading, shThis was a neat and consistently surprising book, which is a thing I love. Each time I was like, oh, okay, I understand the story that I'm reading, she did a switch or the plot made a zag or a character made an unexpected decision and we were zooming off in another direction.
But also, I think she tried to do too much. Like here: This is a story of a synesthete, a dude who can see smells and hear colors and whatnot. He's an art critic and this is the story of his art criticry and also his lopsided marriage and also his losing / regaining / re-losing / re-regaining of his abilities based on life swirling around him and the good and bad choices he makes within it. But also: This is the story of a brash and emotionally shut-off painter, and his love life and a horrible accident and his losing and then regaining his will to live and love and make art. And also: This is a story of New York City in its wild renegade 1980s thrum, with squatters and bonkers artists and missing children and darkness and light and drama. And also: This is the story of an Argentina gone all fucked up, with a government that disappears people and the chances of escape getting thinner and more unrealistic and terrifying by the day.
So, I mean, it's a lot.
The threads are all there. The plot moves briskly, the writing is lovely, the characters are good (although some, of course, far more dimensional than others), the scene-setting is immersive. But it didn't quite manage to floor me, or truly suck me in, and while I expect to remember some especially poignant or lush snippets, I don't think it will stick with me for all that long....more
Man. I loved this book like crazy up until the last 50 or so pages. Characters so good they become your friends, deep and complex storylines and relatMan. I loved this book like crazy up until the last 50 or so pages. Characters so good they become your friends, deep and complex storylines and relationship arcs, past and present and future, love and sorrow and triumph and despair. But then holy god, everything just got so dark, so mean and cruel and calamitous, like far far more than I expected given all that had come before, far more than any of these characters deserved, far more, frankly, than I could stomach. It was like a goddamn Shakespearean tragedy all of a sudden, and it all just went relentlessly bleaker and bleaker, in a pell-mell crushing rush to the end.
A three-star rating is unfair, really, for such a rich and beautiful saga, but that one tipping-point scene, that one harrowing moment and all its devastating aftermath, that's all I'm going to remember a few months or years from now, and that fucking sucks. ...more
The art in this is suuuuuper beautiful and the world is massive and well conceived, but the plot and the way it's presented are so confusing that I neThe art in this is suuuuuper beautiful and the world is massive and well conceived, but the plot and the way it's presented are so confusing that I never really felt like I found my way in. Also it is staggeringly bloody and violent and cruel and bleak, which is fine but not a thing I love.
Here's what we ate at book club! Apple macarons and pumpkin muffins and caramels and all sorts of deliciousness.