(I have a new post up at Grasshopper New Media — it’s about family reunions. Check it out. wm)
So, so, so.
I try to think about Elvis
Oprah in the afternoon
I try to think about palm trees
The creature from the black lagoon
I try to think about high heels
And good deals
Anything to get me through
I just can’t concentrate
You’re all I think about these days
– “I Try to Think About Elvis”
I have a stack of books here as high as my left hipbone for review, and I just have not had the time to write any reviews. (Although I have been finding time to read.) Also, my concentration is shot. What with end of summer. Worrying about my granny. Getting back up to speed after a lazy, relaxing vacation. The season finale of “America’s Got Talent.” Excuses, excuses.
Generally, if I don’t like a book I don’t review it. (Stash under “Things My Dad Told Me”: If you can’t say something nice/don’t say anything at all.) But I’ll make two exceptions here.
Robert Wilder’s new book, “Tales from the Teachers’ Lounge,” (Delacorte Press, $23, 307 pages) lost me at “Here, I’ll start out by making fun of the special ed kids. Har! Har!” Rob, it’s not funny. Also, I only sort of liked his other book “Daddy Needs a Drink,” although I gave it a decent review here.
Second, “Husbandry: Sex, Love & Dirty Laundry,” by Stephen Fried (Bantam Books, $18, 177 pages) lost me at the first sentence:
“Let’s start with my socks.”
No, let’s not. And let’s not get into the politics of housework, how women are “genetically programmed” to be quicker-picker-uppers and how “the things that you stress about are not the things I stress about” and how if you’re rude to your wife you won’t get laid, etc.
Oh, and the whole “I would have gotten around to picking up my dirty clothes eventually, it’s just more important to you than it is to me.” As long as men keep leaving the shitwork for women, we will continue to be subjugated and our real work won’t matter (or get done) because we’re kept so busy with the shitwork. Excuse me — your shitwork.
So fucking pick up your socks and shut up.
Now — a book I loved. When I first glanced at Whitney Gaskell’s new book, “Mommy Tracked,” (Bantam Books, $12, 349 pages) I cringed a little. More about Jimmy Choos, right? Manolo Blahnik’s, and the new nanny, and the mojitos and yadda yadda. I cannot relate to those books, I really can’t. (Except for the mojitos.)
It’s not that book. Meet Chloe, Anna, Grace and Juliet, and their crazy, mundane, complicated lives under pressure in Orange Cove, Florida. I read the first chapter, then put it down to call the Pink-Haired Housewife, who I’d given my other review copy to.
“It’s like reading a really juicy grown-up Judy Blume book! Go read it!” Then I hung up and finished the book. The characters were believable, and engaging. One shoplifts compulsively, one is struggling to lose weight, one (a single mom) is scared of dating, one wants to have an affair on her husband, then doesn’t want to, then does want to… will she? It’s a soap opera, but, like any good soap, it’s trickier than just the drama.
You’ve got to have believable characters. We have to be able to relate to them. They don’t have to be perfect, but you have to care about them. Check, check and check. They moved me, these women. They were rich. They made me feel like I’m not alone out here.
And great news! Gaskell has written four other novels: “Pushing 30,” “True Love (and Other Lies),” “She, Myself & I” and “Testing Kate.” Yay!