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?
So, I don’t know about your specific situation, but here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I have been trapped in the apartment as an inessential person (still able to work from home, just only able to hold virtual meetings with people other than my husband and two sons). And for me, nothing feels more essential at this time than a beach read.
A well-done beach read is like a warm cup of soup. It provides an easy escape into a world where things can actually work out, leaving you with a smile on your face and warm, fuzzy good feelings that seeps into your bones. A poorly done beach read is infuriating.
Recently, I had the experience of reading a great beach read, and a not-so-great beach read. And yes, the latter did infuriate me. These novels were, respectively, Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center and Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie. [Full disclosure: I received both of these novels as Advanced Reader Copies. Fuller disclosure: I am a blunt bitch, and while I may not have paid for these novels, that in no way effects my opinion of them. Fullest disclosure: I’m not currently hungry, but am still craving sugar, and may take a break in writing this blog post for chocolate. I realize this last note is in no way related to the content of this blog post, but am just trying to be completely honest and transparent.]
Let’s talk about the good first:
Protagonist Cassie Hanwell is a great firefighter. She kind of fell into a great job with the Austin Fire Department, and the novel opens as she eats dinner with her co-workers before receiving a prestigious award. Cassie keeps to herself, a lot, but she is self-sufficient and doesn’t need other people. Until she accidentally gives this terrible guy some comeuppance, and finds herself driving to the East Coast to live with the mother who she’s barely spoken to in years, en route to a transfer to a new fire station that is markedly less modern than the Austin FD, trying to cobble a new life together for herself while also helping her mother (who is suffering vision loss) while making sure not to become ensnared, because she doesn’t want to be fooled twice!
This plot is full of dramatic tension and literal life-and-death stakes. Yet, instead of being overwrought or ridiculous, this novel remains interesting and difficult to put down. Writing a novel – any novel – is an accomplishment, but Center takes this accomplishment a step further. Her work has wrought that rare book that breathes life into characters, making words into people that you care about, because they are realistic. And not only does it include realistic characters (which you know I’m a sucker for), but it also does so in a way that is heartwarming, that leaves you closing the book with a lighter heart. In this political climate, where I have been stuck in the apartment with my family for an entire month (I love them, but it is not a very big apartment, and it is a lot), to read a book that makes me feel hope is nigh on amazing. Yet this book managed to do so, and I am immensely grateful to Katherine Center for penning it.
Ok, on to the “beach read” that’s more of a “don’t read:”
This novel is supposed to be a juicy behind-the-scenes look at crazy Hollywood, except that there is nothing surprising in it. We know that producers in Hollywood are full of shit; the only one who seems surprised by it is the protagonist of this novel, Agnes Nash. So, like, bitch isn’t going to give you a very good behind-the-scenes look. I think we’re supposed to feel bad for Agnes – but it’s totally obvious that her marriage is a sham, and even if her husband doesn’t want to drop her like two hot rocks, he’s absolutely awful, so it’s hard to feel bad for her when the only conceivable reason she’s still with the man is money. Like, just get a divorce, and make sure he pays you alimony. Or at least child support.
In fact, Agnes judges those around her all the time. We’re supposed to think she’s so witty and fun; she really just comes across as oblivious and awful. The only people she shows respect or allows might not be, like, totally clueless, are rich, presumably white, men. I had absolutely no interest in seeing things go right for Agnes. Bitch is white, obviously fairly good-looking, and only values the opinions of rich men while somehow convincing herself she’s principled and superior to those around her. She also, in her quest for hypocrisy, proves to be either excessively idiotic or naive to an unimaginable degree. Snitches get stitches, and the naive can leave, Agnes. Except she doesn’t need to leave. Because she’s white, heterosexual, and stupid/naive, you know Agnes will somehow end up on top. So I guess read this one if you want to be reminded that life isn’t fair, and if your life isn’t going great, it’s probably because you’re just not pretty enough? That’s usually the opposite of how I want to feel when I read a beach read, but, you know – to each his/her own.
What about you – any beach reads to recommend? Or any that absolutely infuriated you that you would like to rant about?
Hello, and welcome to my random blog about coronavirus, which roughly translates to “crown poison” (story prompt, anyone…?). If you’re not reading this from the comfort of home, you’re an asshole, and if you’re sick of your home, that sucks, because you’re stuck there for awhile.
I, myself, have been navigating the tricky waters of working from home while trying to prevent my older son’s brain from rotting. His school has provided resources on-line, including something called Lexia Core5, which is designed to help the kids learn to read and gain literacy skills. But secretly, Lexia appears to just be another roadblock on the road of learning, and, like, not allowing large companies to obtain and retain monopolies. For those who, like me, purchased Galaxy tablets for their kid to use instead of an overpriced tablet named after a fruit, you are out of luck if your kid is supposed to use Lexia Core 5, since the Company has released an updated version of the app in 2019 that is only available for iPads. So nice of this educational cog to try to force schools and parents to keep Apple in business even though the company has a history of purposefully slowing down its speed to try to get people to buy the latest version, as well as current lawsuits about artificially keeping the resale market high. Lexia, as a company, I now strongly disapprove of you and hope you, your developers, and especially your CEO eat a big bag of sweaty ol’ balls, because you suck so hard if you had a single penis or related paraphernalia in your mouth, you would pull it off of the unfortunate man trying to be pleasured.
In between worksheets, tablet-learning, and very chaotic, shout-laden, dubiously productive classroom meetings held via Zoom, my kid has been playing video games, and watching movies. Grandma got us a subscription to Disney+, which convinces me that Disney will win the streaming race, because who doesn’t love Disney? It has the classic Disney princess movies, some Kurt Russell as Dexter the college kid movies, and all of those slightly awful original movies, including the weird ones that you completely forgot about that now begs you to turn it into a drinking game. Speaking of Disney – if you haven’t heard about Vanessa Hudgens, she didn’t check-in with her agent before posting an Instagram live where she basically laughs because people are going to die of coronavirus, unlike her, since she’s, you know, young and rich and shit. This weirdly inappropriate session was likely inspired as a reaction to the possibility that quarantine could last through July or August and cancel Coachella, and was followed up by a bullshit apology (I love when people claim their words got “taken out of context,” which is almost never true), presumably so people can feel okay about liking High School Musical or something.