The Well-Written Book that Sucked Me In Against My Will

… or, at least, my inclination.

… Did I spend too long making this rather pointless comic? Why, yes. Yes I did.

I was a lucky recipient of Sarah Goodman’s forthcoming debut novel Eventide. I’m not quite sure why I picked up this book, dark green in hue, with an ephemeral woman in a white dress immediately after reading Sue Miller’s Monogamy (post forthcoming). Monogamy was so realistic, filled with such beautiful writing, I think I just grabbed another book because it was time to read another book, and with the assumption that regardless of what I chose, it would be a letdown. Like the book nerd equivalent of waking up when you know it’s too early and you really want to go back to bed, but you just can’t, for some reason, and so you’re like: “Fine,” but then you’re noticeably cranky all day.

I’ll get up… but I won’t be happy about it.

So there I was, already cranky with Eventide, prepared to be disappointed. But try as I might (I’m pretty stubborn, so I did try to hold on to my grumpiness, like a child), Eventide was not disappointing.

Just let. Me. Be. Miserable!

To begin with, the author, a former journalist, uses many off-the-cuff remarks in the beginning of the book that gave me pause, due to the early-twentieth century setting. But when I did my cursory Google-search fact-checking, bitch had done her homework. All of the remarks made in Chapter 1, such as the petri dish, and potential employment in a typing pool, are reasonable. The narrator’s temperament, while feeling somewhat modern, also seems appropriate for someone young and from a city for that time period. So Goodman did good on not writing something implausible or historically inaccurate in her historical fiction (one of my personal pet peeves).

Bitch did her homework

I will say, I did not much like the protagonist, and while the lack of diversity in this novel was noticeable to me, it is period appropriate. Despite not particularly liking Verity Pruitt, she was well-written. She was annoying in the way that cocky young people can be, but she was also smart and brave and someone who will do anything for the people she loves. So annoying, but also someone you can’t help but root for at least a little bit.

Yet what really makes this book stand out and kept me reading is the story. The first few chapters are necessary, well written, but ultimately, not that engaging, exposition. There are also short chapter breaks interspersed amongst the main story that provide back story and are completely unnecessary. Like, do they help tell the story? Yes. But could the story be told just as well without them? Also yes. Do they add to the atmosphere? I guess. But again, in a way that I found annoying, much like the protagonist. I think, actually, that this entire book might be a set-up for a YA series. It works as a standalone novel, but it feels as though it is written with the idea of adding to it if it gains enough of a fangirl base. About mid-way through the novel, the story picks up within the main storyline, and that is when your eyes will be glued to the page, and you’ll be flipping pages faster than you can blink.

#touche

The story is melodramatic and crazy and frightening, a roller coaster of a latter half of the novel. It has twists and mental illness and faerie folklore and family and love and magick. And I didn’t much like the protagonist, although I didn’t want her to lose, but did love the villain, whose unveiling is like a mix between a car wreck that you can’t help looking at and the glamour of [insert name of beautiful, famous person you can’t help but online stalk here], with a hint of malice. Like, I don’t want to meet the villain in real life, but I loved reading her.

Verdict: You should read this.

Fine print – Slated for release in October. If intrigued and if you can afford it, please consider pre-ordering from an indie bookstore. #shoplocal #oratleastnotamazon

Did Netflix Original Heartthrob Noah Centineo Make the Same Movie Twice?

Noah Centineo (“NC” from hereon out, because typing out his full name every time I reference him in this post feels like too much effort) who made an adorable and endearing love interest in the Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han’s YA novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, as well as Netflix original Sierra Burgess is a Loser, continued to play a high-school aged heartthrob in The Perfect Date, along with the ineffably talented Laura Maurano, and went on to make more movies that I’m not going to list in this post. I often like YA romance movies, so I have seen all of the aforementioned movies.

Then, I noticed another movie, which also featured Centineo, and which also featured a dating app, both of which are components of The Perfect Date. I was intrigued. The movie is called Swiped, and before you leave to go look for it on Netflix, let me warn you – It. Is. Terrible. Almost unwatchable. I put it on, and couldn’t finish it, and I willingly watch Hallmark movies for funsies. Sure, I’m mostly making fun of them, like the years where the costume designers didn’t hem anyone’s pants, the predictable plotlines, or the fact that as I grow older, the protagonist of A Christmas Kiss increasingly seems like an inept she-devil hell-bent on terrorizing her unsuspecting, successful boss who was just asking her to do her job, goshdarnit. But I’m still willing to watch these undeniably slightly terrible movies from start-to-finish. But I couldn’t finish Swiped. So, you know – perspective.

One woman’s Xmas kiss… is another woman’s Xmas nightmare

It kind of fascinates me that NC chose to do both of these movies, with fairly similar concepts, so close together. I mean, there are subtle differences. Although both movies feature technologically proficient teens with the capability to fairly quickly develop an app, The Perfect Date features high school students, whereas Swiped takes place in college. Additionally, although both movies feature teenage characters who are socially awkward, The Perfect Date features that teenage character as more of an intelligent teen girl who is an appropriate love interest, whereas Swiped features that teenage character as a nerdy teen boy who develops the app (I think, again, I could only stand like 20 minutes or so of the movie), seems to have mommy issues, and in reality, wouldn’t get laid (although he’s probably got some love interest in the movie, since I think he’s one of the protagonists). Both movies feature NC, and both rely on his good looks and charm to sway the audience as well as make him seem worthy of redeeming, as well as being a love interest, in spite of his character’s flaws. But only one of these movies work.

The largest differentiator between the two films that I discerned based on my cursory introduction to Swiped was budget. Mainly, The Perfect Date seemed to have one whereas Swiped seems to have been made with considerably less money. Swiped has that noticeable vacuum of sound that low budget films often have, where there is no background noise, which makes the lackluster dialogue that much more apparent. It makes the quirks that the characters should have lack humor, because the person talking to him/her/their-self who would seem odd with the right music playing in the background instead seems more like that homeless guy you walked by the other day muttering to himself and pulling his hair out of his scalp (for some reason, the latter feels a little less cute).

So it’s not the same movie, but it is possible that NC chose both movies for the same reason. My theory*: the idea of developing a dating app with a friend that helps him become a better person and find love so enraptured NC that he immediately signed on to do Swiped (a 2018 movie), and then, when the opportunity to make a strikingly similar movie was proffered, he doubled down, and signed on to do The Perfect Date (a 2019 movie). So why is NC so enraptured by this idea? Maybe he has secret Tinder/Bumble accounts, or maybe his love life is solely arranged by his agent, so the idea of finding love in any other way is intriguing and fascinating, or maybe he wants to be the next Steve Jobs, but, cursed with good looks and a lack of turtlenecks, has to console himself in the arms of pretty ladies in movies and on television instead of becoming the technological visionary he knows in his bones he would otherwise be meant to be.

Those are my rambling thoughts about NC and the mystery of the two similar-but-not-quite-the-same movies. What about you? Have you seen one/both of these movies? Did you also compare and contrast these movies – and if so, did your thoughts coincide with mine? Or, better yet, do you have a conspiracy theory about NC and why he did both films? Please spill in the comments below!

*Completely unfounded and likely untrue.

TBR Treasure Hunt: Summary

2019 has been over for awhile, and this post on contemplation and reflection of my own self-imposed task of getting through my TBR list is woefully overdue. In 2019, in an attempt to actually begin getting through my TBR list, I tried to read (and post about) one book from my TBR each month. I was better at reading the books than remembering to blog about them.

Let’s talk stats.

At the beginning of this quest, initiated in March 2019, my TBR list had 60 books on it.

In 2019, I read the following 10 books from my TBR list:

  1. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – Short stories that play on the darker side of fairy tales, which adults told around a campfire with the kids in bed. These stories have influenced the likes of Neil Gaiman and other reputable literary darlings, but are not always 100% on point. 3 out of 5 stars
  2. Truly, Devious – At the elite Ellingham Academy, Stevie is getting the opportunity to pursue her passion of solving a cold-case mystery involving the very school she has recently joined. Then, her peers start getting murdered, and the pressure to figure out who is Truly, Devious becomes even more pressing… 5 out of 5 stars
  3. The Winters – Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this novel is a more modern setting and interpretation of the famed gothic novel. 4 out of 5 stars
  4. The Girl Who Knew Too Much – A mystery novel set in a small town close to Hollywood that fails to deliver on its’ promise of glamor, intrigue, and an interesting murderer. 2 out of 5 stars
  5. The Rest of the Story – Another of Sarah Dessen’s tales of the summer that changed everything, this novel is a bit more sophisticated, featuring a character who is the offspring of someone from both sides of the tracks who is learning about who she is and what matters to her. 5 out of 5 stars
  6. My True Love Gave to Me: 12 Holiday Stories – Stephanie Perkins’ nose for romance has resulted in this delightful anthology of YA romance stories from established authors that gives you a warm, butterfly-filled stomach, even in the midst of winter chill. 5 out of 5 stars
  7. A Study in Charlotte – Jamie Watson doesn’t much care to go to some stuffy prep school in America, but of course, parents don’t always give teens a choice, do they? At first sight of Charlotte Holmes, great-great-great granddaughter of Jamie’s great-great-great grandfather’s best friend, Jamie is intrigued. Then crimes alluding to the mysteries their great-great-great grandparents solved together, and Dr. Watson wrote of, begin occurring, and the pair have to begin working together to find out who is targeting them and why. 5 out of 5 stars
  8. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Evelyn Hugo, the rich and famous and mysterious and glamorous actress, has granted magazine writer Monique Grant the privilege of hearing the story of her life – the real story – and writing a memoir on the rich and interesting material. For some reason. The well-read reader will likely figure out why Evelyn has chosen Monique far before the dim-witted and somewhat unlikable human standing in for a tape recorder does, and the ending of the novel was far too predictable and boring for the glamorous Evelyn Hugo around whose life it predominantly focuses. 4 out of 5 stars
  9. We Sold Our Souls – Horror novel following Kris Pulaski’s disgusting and visceral journey to face her enemy-and-onetime-best-friend Terry Hunt. Once upon a time, they were in a decent heavy metal band, before Terry stole their music to start a solo career that catapulted him to stardom. The world sees Kris as an insane conspiracy theorist who can’t congratulate her friend on his success, but Kris knows what really happened… 3 out of 5 stars
  10. The Raven Boys – Four boys who go to Aglionby, the private school primarily attended by the rich, are on a quest to find Glendower, a mythological Welsh king who is sleeping and will grant a wish to whomever awakens him. When they meet Blue Sargent, a girl raised in a house of psychics who is herself a psychic conduit and magnifier, their search heats up. But they’re not the only ones who want to find Glendower… And so begins the first well-written book in a YA fantasy series. 4 out of 5 stars

My TBR is currently sitting at 112 books:

In summation:

Overall, this has been fun! I like decreasing, and then increasing, and then decreasing my TBR pile, and will continue to do so, though I am not going to even bother pretending I will post blog posts about each of them. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that, in general, I did enjoy the books on my TBR. My self-confidence in my ability to know what I like is bolstered. How does your TBR fare? Do you have any specific recommendations that I should add to that Sisyphean TBR list?

Plain Bad Mediocrity

Brookhants, a property housing a boarding school that was last peopled with students in the early 20th century, is haunted. Parents stopped feeling comfortable sending their girls there after the mysterious deaths of several of the students, as well as members of the faculty. The terrible deaths surrounding the property, as well as the unconventional lifestyles and love interests that people the property’s tragedy, made for a fascinating, bestselling read when literary talent Merritt Emmons had her non-fiction book featuring the mystery published as a precocious teen, and are now in the works to become a (hopefully) blockbuster, (at the least) expensive movie featuring the famous and beautiful Harper Harper and her B-list co-star Audrey Wells. … what could go wrong?

If I were to draft a book wishlist, a book description fairly similar to the synopsis of Plain Bad Heroines would be on it. As a fan of thrillers/horror since elementary school, as well as enough of a follower to read shit because Emma Roberts’ book cult suggested it, it’s almost like Emily M. Danforth’s novel was crafted specifically for me. Sprinkle in characters that challenge heternormativity, and an intelligent, rich mentor character who met Truman Capote, and I have got to fucking read this book.

Give me ALL the books!

Unfortunately, although the plot and characters are interesting, this book was not as enjoyable as I was hoping.

Plain Bad Heroines is an interesting conundrum of a novel, in that it has really forced me to evaluate what I desire from the books that I read. Objectively, I consider the plot to be interesting. It has two primary timelines – one occurring in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, the other occurring more recently, in the early twenty-first century – and both timelines include interesting plots and have an approximate equal weighting. Objectively, I consider the characters to be interesting. There were characters I liked more than others, but the majority of the characters are either fairly well fleshed out, or appropriately rely on stereotypes that allow the reader to quickly understand them. I will say, not all of the characters really grow or change, but given that this novel is in large part a thriller/horror novel, I think that is okay. When you think about a lot of famous horror movies, the main character struggling to survive is often a static character, who may become traumatized, but has not really changed at his or her core, and has instead shown how his or her character has allowed him or her to remain alive. So, given that I agree that the plot and characters in the novel are fairly well done, what, exactly, was my problem with the novel?

That is an excellent question.

I’m going to try. Also, way to call bullshit on my stalling tactics.

Right.

I think the missing element for me with this novel was writing style. There were moments, brief glimpses, where the prose style was enjoyable to me. However, for the most part, the writing of this novel felt a bit plain. It was not that the sentences were even necessarily poorly crafted, they just didn’t appeal to me. The information that should have been conveyed was conveyed, it was just done in a way that felt too simple, that drew too straight a line from point A to point C. In essence, I think that this novel shows craft and shows writing, but just does not do so in a way that is in accord with my artistic sensibilities. I would not be at all surprised to discover I am in the minority in my feelings while reading this novel. At the same time, my honest, true feelings are that the writing style takes an interesting idea peopled with interesting characters and fails to elevate the story, leaving the book instead one more mediocre novel populating store bookshelves starting October 20th.

Ugh – I wanted to like this so much more than I did!

Did you read it, or are you planning to do so? If so, what did you think or what is most interesting/intriguing/appealing to you?

Audrey Hepburn & the Disappointing Movie Based on an Intriguing True Mystery

Amazon Prime occasionally has some hidden gems, and I was both excited and intrigued to see an old film featuring Audrey Hepburn that I had not only never seen, but had never head of, entitled Mayerling. My lack of knowledge could be seen as a sign that I am not a true Audrey Hepburn fan, or it could be a sign that this movie is terrible, and as such, has been hidden away for awhile because why go out of your way to save a shitty movie, even if it does star someone with grace and charm? Regardless, I decided to watch it.

Unfortunately, it is a pretty terrible movie.

Not funny bad, either, just… very dull. So you can watch it, if you’re, like, trying to go to sleep or something. Otherwise, I don’t recommend it.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did watch the entire thing, in case there was some saving grace at the end of the film. There wasn’t.

Wondering why Audrey Hepburn would have participated in this mediocre production, I began to research. Although a terrible movie, the incident that inspired the movie is very interesting. You are probably a better history student than I am, and already know that Mayerling is the village in which Habsburg heir Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress Mary Vetsera both died in mysterious circumstances in a hunting lodge, resulting in instability that culminated in the death of the archduke Franz Ferdinand, the crisis that instigated WWI. If you are not already aware of this string of events, don’t worry, you are not alone. I just looked this shit up, and can direct you to a few articles about the event, including one by the Royal Opera House, the site Naked History, and, of course, the obligatory Wikipedia article.

#datedculturalreferences

An unsolved mystery involving both the aristocracy and having such terrible results is obviously going to hit all the right gossip buttons for most of us. After reading up on the matter a bit, I was kind of surprised that the version featuring Audrey Hepburn and her first husband Mel Ferrer was so dull, uninspired, and frankly, chose the lease interesting solution. The lover murder-suicide pact because the Crown Prince’s family just didn’t understand his son idea is, admittedly, very romantic. Until you find out that the Crown Prince had syphilis, and had already suggested a murder-suicide pact to his former mistress, a woman a bit older and less impressionable than Mary, who declined. This fact changes the story a bit, doesn’t it? And becomes a mentally and physically ill older man’s seduction of a younger girl, culminating in his using his influence in a deadly manner. Until you find out that the body of Mary Vetsera has since been exhumed – and there was no evidence of a bullet wound at all, although there was evidence that death had been caused by violent blows to the head. This end doesn’t entirely rule out the theory of a murder-suicide pact with the Prince, although it does make such a theory decidedly less romantic. Then, there are the rumors that Mary’s family showed up to the lodge to beat the shit out of the Crown Prince (he was, after all, probably taking advantage of Mary at least a little bit), with the Crown Prince accidentally killing Mary during the ensuing brawl, and being murdered by her relatives as a result. There’s another theory that Rudolf took Mary to the lodge to break up with her, and perhaps she reacted violently, causing the prince to kill her in self-defense, then kill himself in horror at what he had done.

THE Hunting Lodge

So many theories, and a mystery that will never be solved (particularly since no one has permission anymore to exhume Rudolf’s remains). Every theory more interesting than the one chosen for Hepburn’s movie.

So why was the most romantic and least likely solution chosen for Hepburn’s movie? And why did Hepburn and Ferrer agree to star in it?

More mysteries I do not have an answer for, although my theory is that it somehow involves her husband’s interests, and perhaps recommended itself to her romantic, though misguided, sensibilities. I fear, however, that my musings on this matter might be the least interesting solution, also. What are your thoughts? Would love to hear your wildest or favorite conspiracy theory!

Buy a Book, Support Physical Bookstores, Maybe win $250

My title pretty much says it all, so I will keep this post brief. Publishing house Sourcebooks is hosting a contest where if you order or preorder certain of their books at an actual, physical bookstore, you can turn in proof of purchase in their site (or send a postcard) and thereby be entered into a contest to win a $250 gift card to your favorite bookstore. Books include The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, The Last Flight, the first novel in the Phryne Fisher mystery series, and The Phantom of the Opera, amongst others.

Here is a link to the contest summary and list of books, with the summary including the link to submit your information to be entered into the contest.

I am personally eyeing Sulari Gentill’s After She Wrote Him, which sounds right up my alley, and has about 3.8 stars on Goodreads, so seems promising. If you do enter, please let me know which book you chose in the comments below, and good luck in the contest!

Although, really, there doesn’t seem much to lose in this contest, which will, at the least, result in supporting brick-and-mortar bookstores and a new book.

Is the truth stranger than fiction?

I recently had the privilege of receiving and devouring an ARC of David Foenkino’s The Mystery of Henri Pick. Translated by Sam Taylor, this novel was charming and literary, which was exactly the sort of novel I was in the mood to read when I pulled this e-book up on my cell phone. I won’t bother to summarize the plot, since this novel is primarily a mystery in titular name, only, and you should only read this novel if you are okay with meandering plots including high-level characterizations, akin to a fairy tale about literature peopled with the various people involved in creating and being affected by literature – the struggling authors, the editors and publisher, the general public, the critics.

There is a literal mystery – how did Henri Pick write a novel when no one was aware he had any literary predilection, at all? But the focus of the novel is not really this question that is consuming the minds of the fictional characters that populate it, but whether, how the public’s access to people and information results in the general populace feeling entitled to personal and private information of all persons associated, even tangentially. How this entitlement can result in people who were completely unaffiliated with the creative endeavor being hurt. How this entitlement can be manipulated.

Because at the end of the day, does it matter how the novel was written, if it is, in fact, a good novel? Sure a novel with an interesting backstory may make people more inclined to pick it up (or, more likely, order it from Amazon), but at the end of the day, a novel’s merit should be based on the words contained within its’ pages. In fact, does it really matter who even wrote the novel? Except for potentially resulting in the reader realizing this author’s writing hits his/her/their fancy, and searching for other works, if they exist, or becoming an author whose works the reader keeps an eye for in the new releases, the author’s words are all that will matter in 100 years, when any scandal, beauty, or personal attributes will cease to matter (likely; I guess some authors live to be quite old, so maybe I should update that to 200 years).

Now, having said all of those words above, I have to admit that I am 100% guilty of becoming a bit obsessed with authors who have penned works I have enjoyed and admired. As a teenager, I used to pen letters to my favorite YA author, Christopher Pike, in that fangirl way that probably means there’s a restraining order for me somewhere that has never had to be exercised, because, like, Kevin McFadden lived in California, and I lived in Michigan. I was so obsessed, I spent a ridiculous amount of money to obtain Getting Even, the second in a series that also includes a book written by Caroline B. Cooney, and that is decidedly different from the horror/New Age shit Pike (or his ghostwriters, since with the release of a book per month, there were probably a lot of ghostwriters) usually wrote that I adored. It was my dream, as a teenager, to become the next Christopher Pike, or L.J. Smith (… still waiting on Strange Fate, although at this point, I doubt the book could end the Night World series in a way that gave me closure). As an adult, I can safely say, this dream was not, and will not, be attained. Although I did successfully complete a short story recently, my income is not dependent on my creative ability – which is good, because as even the most cursory glance at this blog will tell you, I’m not great at keeping my creative ability on a schedule. I still like taking my books to author signings (even out-of-state). Authors whose works I enjoy amaze me. As an avid reader, I love those books that touch my heart, and I will seek out other works by the author, follow the author on Goodreads, and marvel at that author’s ability. A book that is fresh every time you read it is an amazing feat. A book that makes me melt, like the romantic works penned by Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell, is a book penned by an author that I admire. And as someone who would like to write something admirable herself, I will see if the authors who have managed to write things I think are amazing have given interviews where they talk about their process, etc., to see if they have the magic key that will unlock my own potential. (I know, this will never work, since the largest factor key to writing something decent is to sit your butt down and write, but part of me can’t help hoping there’s something else, like Sarah Dessen’s two pieces of chocolate, that will make it easier for me.)

In other words, Foenkino has many decent points, but although it is not fair to expect answers from or about the author, if you read something you really admire, doesn’t it also make sense that you are going to be curious about the source of the creation of that thing? Or am I just unhinged, and should treat the author more like a parent of the book I love, smiling awkwardly when I meet them, and absconding away with the book as soon as I can, like teenage me did with my boyfriend?

“Classic” Literature

I recently read this article about Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, which both meshes with my personal feelings on an excursion to John Adam’s Montpelier plantation last summer, and made me go, “Great! Now I don’t have to feel bad about not particularly liking this novel and not having finished it.”

“Story of the Old South” – where only white people problems matter…

I know it is ridiculous, but I feel bad when I don’t like a work that is considered classic fiction. Even though this marker is probably thrust upon a book simply by being considered “good” or “meaningful” by a large number of people, and people have a variety of different backgrounds, and the fact that I am not white and don’t have a penis probably means I’m coming from a different place than those who decided this book was “classic.” Even though using the term “classic” probably began as a misuse of a word that denoted Rome and Greece during what is considered the Classical era, since Hellenistic culture has greatly influenced Western culture, and was considered the high quality standard against which other things should be judged for a long time.

“Classic”

It is in the reading of classics that I can be somewhat of a sheep. I am more than willing to give a “classic” novel the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I will exceed benefit of the doubt and stray into self-doubt. By this, I mean that I will sometimes try to convince myself that I actually do like them when I decidedly do not. After all, if I do not like this novel that is considered one of the greatest written (in English, by Western society), then am I, in fact, a stupid reader?

Another novel that I don’t particularly like is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I think it’s really cool that this woman made a name for herself and is one of the founders of modern horror fiction. I know that Frankenstein is the name of the Doctor, and not the “monster” himself. I get the whole “society made him act monstrous, who is the REAL monster?” concept. But at the end of the day, I am not a fan. I think I may just not really be a fan of horror, in general. I also don’t care for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the extent that I actually prefer Francis Ford Coppola’s movie to the novel. (Yes, I have been told this movie is not a very good movie. Do I still enjoy it? Yes. Yes, I do.)

Does anyone else feel this love-embarrassment relationship with classic novels? What is a “classic” novel that you hated? Or conversely, what is a “classic” novel that you loved?

Timing

I was too late to make the deadline, but this post was written in response to The Wordsmith’s Weekly Writing Contest (15-21). Thanks for the prompt, Ms. Rachel Smith!

The ticking was cacophonous in the small room wallpapered with clocks of all shapes and sizes, each with its’ own slightly different measurement that resulted in there not being a single moment without sound. The lack of carpeting only increased sound, with every step George took in her high-heeled boots echoing loudly. She had to get out of here before the hour struck, not merely to save her brother, but also to save her sanity.

Robert had always had a knack for getting into dangerous situations, and George marveled to herself that it was slightly amazing that she was not yet tired of saving him. It probably helped that this time she was not saving him from himself. Robert may have been an alcoholic gambler and compulsive liar with impulse control problems, but he had not kidnapped himself nor absconded to this odd time dungeon voluntarily.

Glancing at the wall, George noted she had approximately 12 minutes to grab her brother and get out. Luckily, she did not also have to find him. There was nowhere to hide, and he lay 12 steps before her, his wrists bound in a thick, oil-smudged rope behind his back, his mouth gagged with a dirty rag, his chest rising in jagged breaths that belied the impression that he was no longer save-able.

She hurried to his side, curling over her toes and making her arches scream as she knelt. She pulled the rag roughly from his mouth, causing a scream and the plink of at least one tooth against the hard, cold floor.

“Jesus!” Robert screamed, red flushing across his face.

“Not Jesus,” she corrected. “George.”

“Fuck, George, what the hell are you doing?”

“Saving you.”

“Well, dammit, be more careful! I can’t afford veneers.”

“I think the words you’re looking for are, ‘Thank you for coming to rescue me, dear sister in shining armor. Losing a tooth sucks, but is probably better than losing my life. I also 100% realize that this loss is likely partially my fault, because I have terrible oral hygiene.’”

“It’s not my fault; I’m an alcoholic.”

“I don’t think that removes responsibility, but… Shit. 9 minutes. Why don’t you shut the fuck up so we can get out of here?”

“Why don’t you both shut the fuck up? You’re giving me a migraine.” The voice was cold, female elegance overlaid on the polar ice caps.

Cold and familiar.

“Of course,” George muttered. “I should have known.” She turned and greeted the woman: “Hello, mother.”

She woke up, the raucous chimes letting her know it was several hours later. Her arms were tied tightly behind her back, a thick and salty rag was in her mouth, and she had a splitting headache.

R. Eric Thomas Gets It

I am slowly wading my way through R. Eric Thomas’s essay Here For It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America, which is fucking amazing and which I highly recommend for both its’ comedic talent and poignant moments. Reading his essays is finding someone I want to buy a drink, so I can have a smart, funny conversation and become friends and have someone help me ponder the craziness that is currently American politics.

Also, I’m pretty sure R. Eric Thomas is pyschic, because his essay “Flames, at the Side of My Face” (which you should read, if you haven’t, because did I tell you he was fucking amazing yet? the ending to this one is ridiculous and funny and adorable) says in one succinct sentence what I think a lot of us are currently feeling:

… see what I mean about the poignant moments?

What have you been reading that is helping you get through quarantine?