Monthly Archives: August 2008

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death – Laurie Notaro

Not sure if I have written about her here yet (I don’t think I have)  but I love Laurie Notaro. She is what I consider to be an essayist, and without fail – her books (I think they are referred to as the “Idiot Girl” series) never fail to make me actually laugh out loud. I think she is just remarkably likable and a really talented writer. If I laugh out loud and someone asks me what about, it just doesn’t translate when you read it out loud – but man, I really like her. She recently wrote a novel that I wasn’t too into, but this is another collection of essays (I guess you can kind of call it a memoir?) and I enjoyed them. I think and fear that she may be running out of steam or source material, so I hope she gets it together soon – because I look forward to a lot more from her.

This is just the newest one. Not my favorite, but I definitely still enjoyed it. There was one portion about the death of her dog, which I think is the first time she has written anything truly sad. It was really a peak into what a great writer she is, and it definitely brought a non-laughter tear to my eye. Definitely check her out!

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Suite Scarlett – Maureen Johnson

I have heard so much about Maureen Johnson. Not on reviews or anything, but because she is friends with my friend Herzy, and she is always lovingly referred to as “my friend, the author.” I finally had an opportunity to read one of her books, and I was kind of just putting it towards the bottom of the pile, because ya know, if a friend of a friend wrote it? It has to be kind of bad, right?

It was AWESOME. Posting the Amazon review.

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City. Her nineteen-year-old brother, Spencer, is an out of work actor facing a family deadline to get his career in order. Eighteen-year-old Lola has the delicate looks of a model, the practical nature of a nurse, and a wealthy society boyfriend. Eleven-year-old Marlene is the family terror with a tragic past.
When the Martins turn fifteen, they are each expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.
With Mrs. Amberson calling the shots, Spencer’s career to save, Lola’s love life to navigate around, and Marlene’s prying eyes everywhere, things won’t be easy. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deception.
The show, as they say, must always go on . . . .
This was just really well written. The characters were engaging, you hated you were supposed to hate and loved who you were supposed to love. I want to live in a hotel! I want an adorable older brother! Even the dialogue was really engaging – I didn’t realize it until I was reading it, but YA dialogue definitely has a feel to it, and this didn’t. That’s a good thing. The other good news? It’s going to have a sequel! YEA. I am going to see if the library has some of her other titles.

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Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp – Stephanie Klein

I am a little torn on this book. I really liked it and the recollections of camp were both painful to read, heartbreakingly funny and inspiring. What kind of ruined the book for me was the author’s tying it back to her current struggle with weight, and not just that it was unresolved (those of us with weight issues know it will never be “resolved”) but just how bitter she sounded. I don’t know – it was kind of like a coffee stain on an otherwise engaging read.

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Bitter is the New Black – Jen Lancaster

Originally this was just a placeholder, but honestly – I don’t know what else to say. It was a memoir, it was funny. I don’t like her but like what she writes. Worth a read?

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The Girls – Lori Lansens

This was truly the best book I have read in a long time. I finished it and was all “Ohhh yeah. Literature – that’s what that is like!” I felt the same way after reading “Middlesex.” I am not sure if its due to just reading so much fluff, and then reading something meaty, or just the fact that it was good, or that both Middlesex and this book were both about some weird subject matter.

The crux of The Girls is this – its the “autobiography” of a conjoined twin (it’s a fiction book. Roll with it.) Occasionally, the conjoined sister writes a few chapters. The girls are going to die (of an aneurysm) and one of the sisters wants to get her life story on paper – to have a legacy.

I really don’t know what to say about this book. To say it was well-written is an understatement. It made me really think about self, identity, courage, hardship, perspective. Some of it was hard to read (I am not the best at deformity) but it really wasn’t like, a “Gross-Out” story. Just the story of a girl in an unusual situation.

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Bright Lights, Big Ass – Jen Lancaster

Another memoir from Jen. It was funny, I laughed but I still don’t like the girl on a personal level. Or however personal you can get from reading someone’s book and blogs.

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How the Other Half Hamptons – Jamsin Rosemberg

Elana gave me this book. It’s the story of twenty-somethings with a Hamptons beach share. I have some mixed feelings about this book.

Its certainly realistic. That was kind of cool. The problem for me (and not the fault of the book) is that I would have hated it. There is a mention of a girl who leaves after one day. That would have been undoubtedly, me. Even at the end, while they acknowledge that it sucks – they agree to absolutely want to do it again next year. Ugh. This pretty much colored my whole feeling about the book. I know who these people are (my friends) but I just can’t get into it. I also kind of hated the characters – they did remind me of my friends, but not the positive things about my friends. Like, a trumped up, one dimensional version of them. Not so awesome. I never really did learn each character’s name, and while I think they were supposed to represent a different facet of early-twenties (a la Sex and the City), they all just seemed so similar to me.

My big problem with the book wasn’t all this – it was the pretentiousness of it. Like, its a perfectly normal paragraph – describing the scene, the dialogue is written well, and then there is a line like “Rachel knew that being burned was a part of life” or something. That’s not a quote, but it all just felt so contrived. Don’t stick me with some weird Quarter Life Crisis “deep thoughts,” just describe the damn bathroom. And they are watching a flip cup game, and then all of a sudden the author uses “flip” to describe some sort of change of heart/course. It was just too heavy for the book, and sadly – wouldn’t be that heavy in a book that wasn’t this kind of beachy lit. It just came off as trite.

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