**spoiler alert** The first time I read Ethan Frome was in the ninth or tenth grade. I remember sitting in Mr. Guevremont’s American Lit class listeni**spoiler alert** The first time I read Ethan Frome was in the ninth or tenth grade. I remember sitting in Mr. Guevremont’s American Lit class listening to people drone on about how miserable everyone’s life is at the end of the book, especially Ethan’s. How pityingly we must feel for the man who has lost everything—and worse than that, has assumed in its place a smorgasbord of further let-downs. Ethan Frome is not even afforded the decency of remembering Mattie as she once was, but now has to endure—as punishment for his philanderin’ ways—a Mattie whose soul was crushed as completely as was her spine on the day those idiots went sledding. A Mattie who, let’s face it, we could just as well refer to as Zeena Part Deux.
“But that’s not fair!” 15 year-old Jason Morais countered. “This book portrays Zeena wretchedly, yet she has a husband who would rather suffer a crushed cranium than spend another day with her and must now spend the rest of her days caring for his mistress. Shouldn’t we feel more sorry for her than for anyone else?”
I give Mr. Guevremont credit for not responding the way he should have: “No you fucking moron, we shouldn’t.” But I suppose not saying what you really want to say is often the mark of a good teacher.
Reading this again as an adult, I have to admit there is not much room for interpretation here, at least not where Zeena’s concerned. Zenobia Frome is cold and wretched, her behavior toward Ethan being only the tip of the iceberg. She is also unkind to strangers, unwelcoming to visitors, and pretty vicious toward Mattie. I suppose someone could come along to argue (another 15 year-old, perhaps?) that Zeena’s cruelty toward Mattie is justified, or at least explainable, by the mere fact that Mattie consumes all of Ethan’s attention, but I don’t buy it. There is no contextual basis for Zeena being a jealous person. She has very little regard for Ethan’s feelings one way or the other, and in fact might even derive pleasure from knowing of his being lovestruck, because Zeena thrives on misery. It is what gets her up in the morning. When she is not surrounding herself with those on whom life has taken its biggest dumps, she wallows in miseries of her own, real or imagined. Knowing her husband was in love with Mattie is perfect for Zeena because it provides yet another means of nurturing what I like to call her “anguish fetish.” The whole sledding situation is another contribution to her porn stash. Remember Sartre’s No Exit? That is the picture of paradise for Zenobia Frome.
I am still friends with Mr. Guevremont on Facebook and on Goodreads (Hi, Mr. G!), and I think if he were reading this he would agree that my Zenobia defense back in high school probably stemmed more from my youthful naïveté than from any kind of narcissistic need to express vocal dissension. But either way, 15 year-olds can be real argumentative pricks sometimes, can’t they? Thank god I’ve outgrown that phase....more
I love Amy Poehler. In fact I love every member of that early two-thousands (the decade, not the centuryIt breaks my heart to give this book one star.
I love Amy Poehler. In fact I love every member of that early two-thousands (the decade, not the century) female Saturday Night Live cast ensemble: Poehler, Fey, Rudolph, Dratch.
I often mentally include Kristen Wiig in the mix, too, because she’s fantastic, but she was sort of late to the party, having joined SNL a year before Dratch and Fey left.
But as I was saying, I think highly of Poehler. I enjoy her comedy, her intelligence, her personality overall. But I didn’t like this book.
To me, Yes Please reads more like a scatterbrained diary than the well-crafted memoir I had been hoping for. Very little of the book seems to have been composed with any forethought; it’s as though Poehler were performing improv in “lit” form. Except while she may be a master of the art on a stage, her improvisational talent doesn’t really migrate to the written page. Her stories meander along without any real segue between them, each having a very “oh and by the way” aspect to it. Maybe it was meant to be random and incoherent but it just didn’t work for me.
At one point in the book Poehler mentions her addiction to self-googling, so in many ways I am hoping she doesn’t stumble across this review because I’d hate to imagine her feelings being hurt by it, so maybe it’s best that no one votes for it.
In other words, do what you guys normally do....more
This play reminded me of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for all the obvious reasons—the biting sarcasm, the viciousness lying just below the surface oThis play reminded me of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for all the obvious reasons—the biting sarcasm, the viciousness lying just below the surface of the faux pleasantries. The scope of the discomfort is a bit broader in this Albee play, though. Instead of the focus being solely on the married couple, other bystanders get sucked into the fray. There’s even a slap across the face in one scene, which is something I always get a kick out of. Face-slapping scenes are the best, aren’t they? Sometimes I’ll tune into a soap opera when I’m home sick just to see if any faces are being slapped.
I’m not sure who Harry and Edna are meant to represent. Probably they aren’t meant to “represent” anyone and I’m just being overly analytical as usual, but their presence in the play and their bizarre interactions with Agnes and Tobias are just a trifle too…weird…not to possess some sort of subtextual meaning. Plus, with dialogue like “for fear of looking into a mirror” and “our lives are the same,” I had to wonder whether Harry and Edna aren’t mere extensions of Agnes and Tobias themselves.
Oh, you were expecting something deeper than that? Sorry, but that’s as far as I got. This ain’t AP English class, kids.
I’ll be seeing this play on Broadway next month with some fellow Goodreaders. Glenn Close and John Lithgow will be assuming the roles of Agnes and Tobias. I think Glenn Close will make a great Agnes, too—being subtly antagonistic toward her fellow characters on the one hand while on the other trying to maintain a sense of order in a life that seems to lend itself only to chaos. It’s as though a school of hungry piranhas were threatening to close in on her and it’s her job to prevent a feeding frenzy while simultaneously keeping at bay the anxiety that gnaws at her from within.
It is just a coincidence that the last three books I’ve read in a row have been about space travel. I am not a space nerd! And yet maybe I am becomingIt is just a coincidence that the last three books I’ve read in a row have been about space travel. I am not a space nerd! And yet maybe I am becoming one because after reading this book I want as much of this centripetal gravity, atmospheric pressure regulating bullshit as I can get.
Weir’s book is about a Mars reconnaissance mission gone wrong, a mission for which a two-month visit could turn into two years for crewmember Mark Watney. Watney is inadvertently abandoned by his team during a dust storm that forces them to abort their mission early. Survival skills come into play here, as well as science and engineering—MacGyver on Mars! And the science is great. It is a reminder that there is more to it than undatable dudes in orthodontic headgear blowing shit up in erlenmeyer flasks (though it certainly can be that if that’s your thing). There is a logistical nature to the science that just warms my cockles: how to recreate a growing environment for crop sustainability, how to manipulate atmospheric gases for water reclamation. AND MUCH, MUCH MORE.
Andy Weir is a scientist. Actually I don’t know what he does, nor do I know a single thing about him, but he has to be. It is impossible for someone to have written this book and not be a scientist. The only thing I know about him is that he self-published this book two years ago and on account of some great success he had on Amazon, his book was picked up earlier this year by a subsidiary of Random House, the biggest publisher on Earth. So that’s cool.
And it’s also understandable. This book combines all of the technical details needed to explain Watney’s attempts to survive on Mars until rescue with the kind of humor that somehow grounds it all, allowing us to relate to Watney—irrespective of our never having had to fight for our lives on an abandoned planet—with a huggable sense of humanity. Because yes, I often did want to hug Watney. At one point, after NASA tells him he can begin drilling (in an attempt to modify a rover for long-range transport), he replies: “That’s what she said.” Seriously, who says something like that to NASA? You can picture them all back at Ground Control tapping their pens against their orthodontic headgear in nervousness, completely at a loss as to how to respond. If I am ever facing a situation I have little chance of surviving, I hope that I too would have enough perspective to whip out an LGM joke here and there. Because why not?
I learned recently that Ridley Scott of Blade Runner fame will be directing a movie adaptation of this book starring Matt Damon, scheduled for release next year. This is a good thing because if done right, a film of The Martian could very well be out of this world.
I think The Tempest would have worked better as a tragedy. I don’t know why William didn’t consult with me first. I would have advised him to end hisI think The Tempest would have worked better as a tragedy. I don’t know why William didn’t consult with me first. I would have advised him to end his career with a bang: Sebastian would murder his brother Alonso, Antonio would murder Gonzalo, Caliban would have Stephano kill Prospero, Miranda would cry, Ferdinand would have discovered his father dead and murder his uncle, Miranda wouldn’t have the guts to kill her uncle Antonio, but she and Ferdinand would capture him and Caliban and avenge Prospero’s death by usurping his magical powers and indenturing them to their beck and call for the rest of eternity on the island. Ariel would be freed.
My Shakespeare Top Ten List
10. The Taming of the Shrew 9. Romeo and Juliet 8. The Tempest 7. Twelfth Night 6. Othello 5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream 4. Much Ado About Nothing 3. King Lear 2. Macbeth ... 1. Hamlet