Monday, December 17, 2007

Hunchbacks, 30-year-old virgins and a supermodel

On LibraryThing I entered all of the drawings for free ARC copies of books. I actually got one! In the mail from Random House I recieved "The Art of Forgetting", the debut novel from one Stefan Merrill Block. So far I'm torn on it... don't get me wrong it is a really well-written novel. The set-up sort of reminds me of one of my all-time favorites, Nicole Krauss's "The History of Love" where we follow two different people and they somehow intersect. One half of the book deals with a young, isolated boy whose mother is diagnosed with a type of Alzehemiers that occurs early in life. The other half deals with an old man with a hump, currently and flashbacks to when he was younger. He is in love with his brothers wife and when the brother goes off to war he impregantes the wife. Again, it's beautifully written and delves into these characters DEEP. So deep, actually, it's painful. The book is a complete downer and I'm ashamed I've been forcing myself to return to it so I can get my review in ASAP.

So I'm reading two other books that are effectively getting my mind off that one. One if "Suddenly You" by Lisa Kleypas. I've just recently got into historical novels after picking on them my whole life, by Amanda Quick's "Slighty Shady" and the wonderful Julia Quinn has brought me over. So far I'm loving this book, the heroine is a really cool, independent author with really interesting characters surrounding her.

The other book is one I wasn't planning on reading right away, but when it showed up from my favorite site Paperback Swap I picked it up and haven't been able to put it back down. It's a memoir by model/actress Karen Duffy called "Model Patient: My Life As an Incurable Wise-Ass". She was on top of the world with her career (including her work on Michael Moore's TV shows, which I loved her in. Also her ads for that old Cover Girl perfume "Navy", which I wore religiously and wanted to look like her badly) and dating Dwight Yokem and casually seeing Chris Farley and George Clooney on the side, when she started feeling major pain. She was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a rare disease that attacks the central nervous system- it basically hardens on your soft organs, disturbing their function. The book is incredibly funny and reads as fast as my eyeballs can go, so I highly recommend it. Ever since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at 18 and systemic lupus at 21 I've had an obsession with memoirs of people that suddenly get sick, especially at a young age. One of these days I'll put together a list of the best I've read.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm Not Dead

Listening to: Neko Case- Blacklisted

I've loved writing for as lon g as I can remember. When I was around 8 years old I invented a character named Izzy the Dog. My parents liked the first story enough to send it to my relatives, and they seemed to get a kick out of it so it became a series. The last story was the opus, Izzy Goes to Hollywood. Izzy was discovered and put in a dog food commercial, which I apparently thought was pretty big time as a kid since Izzy started going around Hollywoodland in a convertible and flashy sunglasses.

In my senior year of high school my class for my english credit was Creative Writing. I couldn't tell you how excited I was for this class as I had mainly been doing writing for the school newspaper, which made it that much more heartbreaking when I met Mrs. Sepulveda. Everyday we had a journal topic, which was great except she had a system of the date being in say, green, the topic in blue, and your entry in black. If you didn't do every color you got a ) grade. When we had our story assignments we were given hyper specifics on how far from the margins the type could be, if it was off by even .01 you would recieve 50% off your grade. Great enviroment for creativity, eh? That year I also started getting sick, and missing a lot of school. I ALWAYS had a note, never caused any problems and always made up my work, but Sepulveda seemed to be personally afronted by my absences. I think the main thing was that I could miss her classes and still turn in a paper that would get an A. She started altering grades (most infamously to 96% to 69%. When I went to talk to her about it she "mysteriously" could not find the original paper.) I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (which was later re-diagnosed as systemic lupus) and was put under so much pressure I was making myself sicker. Writing was my one big escape, and Sepulveda ruined that for me. I had a bhreakdown the last day of the first semester, and did not return to school. I finished by doing at home courses and did not have a graduation.

So for years I haven't written a thing besides emails and reviews and that sort of thing. Just recently I've started writing fiction again, and it's been so wonderful. It reminds me that I do have at least a little talent in something, and I can escape for a little while when I write. A big part of that goes to my wonderful boyfriend, who is a musician and songwriter. His writing and encouragment got me going again, and his continued support means the world to me. I've also re-discovered reading "heavily" and regularly, and that's also helped my writing so much. I'm in pain pretty much every moment of my life, but if it's a good book I can leave my flawed body for a little while and "become" someone else. I don't just enjoy reading/books, they are literally my lifeline. Whenever I become very depressed or lonely I usually like to go to a bookstore (used or a B&N or Borders) or the library. Just being around books calms me- running my fingers over the spines, taking in the scent of old pages... it's just magic to me.

I love anything and everything that's sincere. I tend to be most interested in mysteries and general fiction, though recently I've discovered a guilty pleasure in historical romance. My all-time favorite books (not counting childhood ones, which would need its own entry) are The Princess Bride by William Goldman and The Time-Traveler's Wife by Aundrey Niffenegger. My next entry will detail my favorite reads of 2007. Thank you for reading!

the birds in the morning don't sing anymore

He led you to this hiding place
His lightening threats spun silver tongues
The red bells beckon you to ride
A handprint on the driver's side
It looks a lot like engine oil and tastes like being poor and small
And Popsicles in the summer

Deep red bells, deep as I've been done
Deep red bells, deep as I've been done

It always has to come this
Red bells ring this tragic gun
Lost sight of the overpass
The daylight won't remember her
When speckled fronds raise round your bones
Who took the time to fold your clothes
Who shook the Valley of the Shadow

Deep red bells, deep as I've been done
Deep red bells, deep as I've been done

Where does this mean world cast its cold eye
Who's left to suffer long about you
Does your soul cast about like an old paper bag
Past empty lots and early graves
Those like you who lost their way
Murdered on the interstate
While the red bells rang like thunder

Deep red bells, deep as I've been done

- Neko Case, "Deep Red Bells"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My first post- and First Book Challenge!

Listening to: Mazzy Star- So Tonight That I Might See

Hello everyone! I've wanted to do a blog dedicated to my life's best pasttime- reading, and figured now was a good time for various reasons My maiden voyage will be dedicated to the "What's In A Name?" from the terrific Words by Annie blog. Here are my selections:

1. A book with a color in its title.
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

2. A book with an animal in its title.
Love Monkey by Kyle Smith

3. A book with a first name in its title.
The True Confessions of Mabel Stark by Robert Hough

4. A book with a place in its title. READ!
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

5. A book with a weather event in its title.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

6. A book with a plant in its title.
Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald

I also joined the In Their Shoes Reading Challenge", which deals in memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. So far I've read-

My Story by Marilyn Monroe
So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, a reading memoir by Sara Nelson
An Alphabetical Life: Living It Up in the World of Books by Wendy Werris

On my "To Read" list (nowhere near complete):
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat by Edward McPherson
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
Slash by Slash & Anthony Bozza