Like David Smalls in Stitches, Nicole George has grown up in a family that has kept a major secret from her: her mother told Nicole that her dad, DaviLike David Smalls in Stitches, Nicole George has grown up in a family that has kept a major secret from her: her mother told Nicole that her dad, David, was dead. The rest of the family, including Nicole's two older half-sisters, kept the secret for years, until one day Nicole's friend Verona ("She is a good kisser....She changed my life for one year") takes her to a palm reader for her birthday, and the psychic tells Nicole that her father is still alive.
Still, Nicole doesn't confront her family right away, and doesn't immediately seek out her father. She dates and then moves in with a girl called Radar; Radar is jealous of Nicole's friendships with other girls, including Verona, so she sees less of them. Nicole and Radar live happily together for a while with their "menagerie" of dogs and backyard chickens, making art and music, but eventually Nicole does find out the truth - or part of it - from one of her sisters.
Calling Dr. Laura is two parallel stories: that of Nicole's relationship with Radar, and that of her relationship with her family. (She does actually call Dr. Laura for guidance, but the helpfulness of her advice is limited.) The outcome, in the epilogue, is an abrupt coda, sad but fitting.
The artwork is good, probably better than I can appreciate - I don't read many graphic novels and have a bad habit of focusing on the text rather than the illustrations. I especially liked on p. 170 where, in a fight with her mother, Nicole becomes a hedgehog while her mother becomes a lion. Dialogue, whether spoken or thought, is in normal case, and narration and captions are in upper case and/or cursive.
"Sometimes it feels much easier to bare intensely personal information with a stranger than to tell your real friends. It's like skipping the bases of small talk and stealing home. You don't have to be emotionally accountable, because they don't know you." (p. 55)...more
This is laugh-out-loud funny and pull-no-punches honest; the author describes some of his worst moments as a parent, from the everday (tantrums in pubThis is laugh-out-loud funny and pull-no-punches honest; the author describes some of his worst moments as a parent, from the everday (tantrums in public) to the extreme (in the NICU after his third child's birth). He illuminates the drastic difference between Life Before Kids and Life After Kids, and doesn't shy away from portraying fraught situations with his wife, parents, and in-laws. He delves into details that non-parents won't have considered, and conveys the everyday exhaustion of parenting without any gloss save humor. ...more
Drawing upon a wealth of primary resources - including letters to and from Paula, Rilke, Clara Westhoff, and Otto Modersohn, as well as the artwork crDrawing upon a wealth of primary resources - including letters to and from Paula, Rilke, Clara Westhoff, and Otto Modersohn, as well as the artwork created by Paula, Otto, and Clara, and Rilke's poetry - Torgersen weaves a cohesive account of how these four artists met, interacted, and influenced each other. The book is organized largely chronologically, including biographical information about Rilke and Paula's lives before they met at the German artists' colony of Worpswede.
Though Rilke was initially attracted to Paula, she was already (secretly) engaged to Otto (whose first wife, Helene, had recently died) when they met. Rilke's attentions then turned to Paula's friend and fellow artist Clara Westhoff, a sculptor. Rilke and Clara married on April 28, 1901, and Paula and Otto's wedding followed on May 25, 1901. Their four lives continued to be intermingled - sometimes peacefully, more often with tension - for the next several years.
At the center of many of Rilke and Paula's disagreements and misunderstandings was his belief that one must choose art or life (preferably art over life), and her belief that she could be happy in life and also create art. Rilke's "Requiem for a Friend" indicated that he thought her life had been wrongfully cut short (she died shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Mathilde, in 1907) before she could fully realize her potential as an artist, but Torgersen argues that "her life, though cut short, was a triumph" (245).
Possibly I expected too much from this slim memoir of Jan Groth's twenty-one years as the receptionist at The New Yorker. There is a goEarlyWord blurb
Possibly I expected too much from this slim memoir of Jan Groth's twenty-one years as the receptionist at The New Yorker. There is a good deal of inevitable name-dropping; yet many names have been changed. More, the book covers a time in her life when, as a transplanted Midwesterner and aspiring writer, she is insecure about her own identity, and suffers from a sense of being victimized, exploited, and stereotyped as a dumb blond. It is the story of personal growth, borrowing the glamorous aura of the august magazine. Overall, I cannot say that I was very interested, but at least it was not terribly long.
There was no talking down. If, in the course of opening a book, [John Berryman] paused to give us a disquisition on the correct way to open books, it was never with an air of condescension. Rather, he managed to convey the idea that there was always a best way to do even the simplest things, and to credit us with wanting to know that best way. (16)
But most broken relationships have codas, and ours was no exception. (99)
That moment to which Saint John of the Cross was referring when he spoke of "the dark night of the soul" never comes to most of us, not because we experience no comparable state, but because we find it hard to justify the grandeur of the phrase. (104)
One of the things I appreciated most about the receptionist job was the way it expanded to allow me to try on half a dozen or so alternate lives. (116)
"Nobody gonna harm you if you can just make 'em remember they a human bein'. You got to treat 'em like one and that's how you remind 'em they is one." (164-165)
I thought, It is so easy to make a man ridiculous. One has only to say no. I suppose that's why they hate us so. (174)
Please don't show us how like little boys you are. We don't want to see how vulnerable you are. We come to you for strength and protection. If you show that you are weak, like us, we are confronted in a way that you are not - no, you really are not, having on some level known it all along - that we are alone, that no one is safe, and that men and women can only cling to one another, suspended over the void. (181)
To be competitive in a healthy and effective way, you have to know what you want, and how to fight for it. (199)
Moving alone through unfamiliar landscapes, surrounded by strangers speaking a language I didn't understand, was a way of granting myself a parole ticket, of being able to say, You see, it is quite natural not to understand what people are saying to me, not to know what is expected of me or how I should respond. I am, after all, a person from another country. (199-200)
I was, from my earliest appearance on the scene, a hypersensitive social barometer of the impression I was making on those around me. (209)
"We are all of us searching for a perfect family. Sometimes we substitute material things, but often in the friendships we form, the lovers we take, the mates we marry, we are arranging for ourselves the understanding mother, the good father, the loving brother and sister we yearn for, the things we missed in our own." (220)
I quickly realized this is a book to be read inside, not outside the house - and then only if you have non-judgmental housemates who are not going toI quickly realized this is a book to be read inside, not outside the house - and then only if you have non-judgmental housemates who are not going to haul you off to a psych ward for your nonstop, helpless laughter. In short, this is a tremendously funny book, and if you enjoy The Bloggess's website, you will enjoy this as well (some content is recycled from the blog - Beyonce the big metal chicken for instance - but most is new)....more
As advertised, both a memoir and a book about writing; it is full of levelheaded, reasonable advice, leavened with humor and opinions, and contains feAs advertised, both a memoir and a book about writing; it is full of levelheaded, reasonable advice, leavened with humor and opinions, and contains few adverbs. Recommended not just for writers or aspiring writers, but also for readers, and anyone interested in some behind-the-scenes workings.
One thing I found especially interesting was the idea that "stories and novels consist of three parts: narration...description...and dialogue..." (163). King says he does little plotting, but begins with a situation, adding only as much backstory as is necessary, and letting the characters come to life (and thus dictate the plot) as he writes.
We are writers, and we never ask one another where we get our ideas; we know we don't know. (8)
When you're still too young to shave, optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure. (40)
...in the early afternoon I have all the energy of a boa constrictor that's just swallowed a goat. (82)
The idea that creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time. (98)
Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. (118)
Writing is refined thinking. (131)
I would argue that the paragraph, not the sentence, is the basic unit of writing....Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe. (134-135)
...vocabulary is not the same thing as feeling and plot is light-years from the truth as it is understood by the mind and the heart. (160)
...there is a huge difference between story and plot. Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest. (170)
Description begins in the writer's imagination, but should finish in the reader's. (174)
When it comes to scene-setting and all sorts of description, a meal is as good as a feast. (177)
On one-dimensional characters :...in real life we each of us regard ourselves as the main character, the protagonist... (190)
Read by the author, which is important in so personal a story. Of all the audiobooks I've "read," this is the most similar to the print version. McCraRead by the author, which is important in so personal a story. Of all the audiobooks I've "read," this is the most similar to the print version. McCracken's voice is a little low and flat, but one gets used to it quickly.
Similar to The Happiness Project in that the book chronicles the story of the author's year-long project (to make friends in a new city - specificallySimilar to The Happiness Project in that the book chronicles the story of the author's year-long project (to make friends in a new city - specifically to go on 52 "friend-dates" in one year). There is research about friendship woven through it, but Bertsche's personality and voice are much less regimented and academic than Rubin's (she's less obsessed with "gold stars"). Overall it was an engaging and interesting read - I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who's on their "second city" (the second move after college), or is just looking to make friends.
The unfortunate truth is that we live in a society that's not only suspicious of people who declare they're looking for friends, but thinks friendliness in general must be qualified. (93)
Sociologist Ray Pahl, author of On Friendship, calls these kinds of friends - the ones that you may not see for years but with whom you can always pick up where you left off - "fossil friends." (217)
"Friendship is consistent, mutual, shared, positive emotion" -Paul Dobransky, The Power of Female Friendship.
...research shows that emotional closeness between friends declines by about 15 percent a year in the absence of face-to-face contact (242).
[The theory of] triadic closure...says one's friends will find it easy to become friends with each other. (244)
"Here's my idea of real intimacy. It's not the person who calls to say, 'I'm having an affair'; it's the friend who calls to say, 'Why do I have four jars of pickles in my refrigerator?'" -Ann Patchett (258)
No one I met this year will have known me before my father died or before I met Matt. Who I was then is so important to who I am now that it's hard to imagine anyone can ever know me as completely as my [life-long friends] do....No matter how hard I try, I can never recapture my 16-year-old self with someone who wasn't around to meet her. (313)...more
This book is more like a series of one-liners and throwaway jokes than a sustained narrative. Possibly a case of conversational style not working in pThis book is more like a series of one-liners and throwaway jokes than a sustained narrative. Possibly a case of conversational style not working in print. There are certainly some very funny bits but overall I didn't love it, and I wanted to. I do think Ellen should host the Oscars any year that Billy Crystal isn't doing it. Maybe they could trade off years.
I don't know at what age people stop wanting to be older. People seem to enjoy their twenties and thirties. It must be around forty, when you're "over the hill." I don't even know what that means and why it's a bad thing. When I go hiking and I get over the hill, that means I'm past the hard part and there's a snack in my future. That's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. (8)
I found out that my ancestors date back to fifteenth-century England. That's like when Big Ben was just tiny little baby Ben.
First of all, did you know a snail can sleep for three years? That's why they move so slowly when they're awake. They're groggy. Did you know that raccoons have such nimble fingers they can not only open garbage can lids and turn doorknobs, they can untie shoelaces? Now you know why they're so good at putting on eyeliner. (62-63)
"I don't know why the word 'mustache' exists. Can't we just call it 'lip hair'?"
"If you like winning, never play hide-and-seek with a chipmunk."
She said, "Did you just intercom the cat?" And I looked at her and I had no choice but to say, "Yes. I did just intercom the cat." (130)
It's funny how cucumber water can taste so much better than pickle juice, even though it's from the exact same source.
If there's one thing I know about children it's that they have a hard time understanding the meaning of the words 'priceless Warhol.'
First you have your baby, which in and of itself is a stunning feat. I won't go into specifics, but ouch and no thank you.
Advice to parents who might otherwise give birth on or near Christmas: "Plan your love. I'm not great at baby math, so I'm just gonna say in the early part of the year, maybe January until March, stay away from each other."
I know sometimes it seems like a world that has a blanket with sleeves can't get any better, but I think it can. (240)
Nearly as good as the print book. The different voices on different CDs made for an abrupt shift from one into the next sometimes, but it was all pleaNearly as good as the print book. The different voices on different CDs made for an abrupt shift from one into the next sometimes, but it was all pleasant to listen to. A little bit less sympathetic our loud than on the page (everyone's their own protagonist, but you can see why Mick might've been justifiably upset with him a time or two). Overall, quite interesting all over again - I recommend either the print or the audiobook for those who don't have time for both....more
Fun, light, conversational, and giggle-inducing. On one hand, I wonder what someone six years older than I am is doing writing a memoir, but that's noFun, light, conversational, and giggle-inducing. On one hand, I wonder what someone six years older than I am is doing writing a memoir, but that's not exactly what this is. I might describe it as a personality piece - and a thoroughly enjoyable read, in a similar vein to Bossypants by Tina Fey.
p. 21, footnote: At the age of six, the criteria for handsome was, simply, "Is he not related to me?" and "Have I seen him on television?" That was it. By this standard, Larry Bird, Dick Clark, Andy Rooney. All handsome guys.
p. 24: Unlike other athletes, Frisbee people won't let it go. My theory is that this is because there's a huge overlap between people who are good at Frisbee and people who do Teach for America....If I had thought learning Frisbee was a valuable thing to do, I would've done it. I don't want to learn! I don't want to learn!
p. 33-34: Because I was largely overlooked at school, I watched everyone like an observant weirdo....It has helped me so much as a writer. You have no idea.
p. 43: One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.
p. 53: The staircase in our third-floor walk-up was the steepest, hardest, metal-est staircase I have ever encountered in my life. It was a staircase for killing someone and making it seem like an accident.
p. 99-100: I enjoy watching people fall in love on-screen so much that I can suspend my disbelief for the contrived situations that only happen in the heightened world of romantic comedies....I simply regard romantic comedies as a sub-genre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.
p. 137: So much can be excused if you're just funny enough.
The section "Guys Need to Do Almost Nothing to Be Great" (whole section, p. 163-166)
p. 184: As my mom has said, when one person [in a marriage] is unhappy, it usually means that two people are unhappy but that one has not come to terms with it yet.
p. 186-87: Maybe the point is that marriage is work, but you may as well pick work that you like....more
The Year of Magical Thinking was clearly about her husband John's death; Blue Nights is less directly about her daughter Quintana's death. It circles around the topic and spirals away into meditations on other losses: the loss of youth and the things that came easily in youth, the loss of the way things used to be - but it returns again and again to Quintana, to motherhood and her failings as a mother, to the fear for her child ("Once she was born I was never not afraid," p. 54). With both John and Quintana gone, her fears now are for her own frailty - a word she uses often - and for the lack of the ease with which she used to write.
Raw, honest, direct without revealing everything; phrases are repeated and gain power and resonance throughout; there is name-dropping but in a straightforward way, because they are simply the names of people she knew or knows. The book is shot through with sadness and fear but also - by the fact that it was written - with strength.
In theory these mementos serve to bring back the moment. In fact they serve only to make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here. How inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here is something else I could never afford to see. (46)
...as if memories were solace. Memories are not. Memories are by definition of times past, things gone....Memories are what you no longer want to remember. (64)
All I know now is that I no longer write this way. All I know now is that writing, or whatever it was I was doing...whatever it was I was doing when I imagine myself hearing the music, no longer comes easily to me. (105)
What if my new inability to summon the right word, the apt thought, the connection that enables the words to make sense, the rhythm, the music itself-- What if this new inability is systemic? What if I can never again locate the words that work? (110-111)
...the moment where everything in your life just stops..."It doesn't present as pain," I once heard an oncological surgeon say of cancer. (149)
By that evening...it seemed clear that I had in fact maintained momentum, but it also seemed clear that maintaining momentum had been at a certain cost. This cost had always been predictable but I only that night began to put it into words. One phrase that came to mind that night was "pushing yourself." Another was "beyond endurance." (170)
Emergency, I continue to believe, is what happens to someone else. I say that I continue to believe this even as I know that I do not. (185)
Read 84 pages and stopped. Rare for me, but I was just hating it: I kept thinking "it wasn't like that!" although maybe it was when he was there. I hoRead 84 pages and stopped. Rare for me, but I was just hating it: I kept thinking "it wasn't like that!" although maybe it was when he was there. I hope that sometime between page 84 and the end of the book, the author transforms from clueless slacker to creative and responsible human being (redemption! narrative arc!), but I was not compelled to find out for myself. Maybe I'll come back to it another time, but most likely not; I had my own experience at Hampshire, and there are too many wonderful other books out there to read....more
Not a ton of substance, but VERY funny. I laughed out loud a lot and read lines out loud to whoever was around. An excellent light read.
Larry didn't set out to create a haven for gay teens, but you know how sometimes squirrels eat out of a bird feeder? Larry built a beautiful bird feeder, and next thing you knew - full of squirrels. (p. 27)
If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty: "Who cares?" (p. 114)