Before we start this news segment, I would like to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming with a review. Like most presidential speeches, weather men, Mother Nature, amber alerts…I may be a little annoying in the middle of your show, but still important.
I’ve sent my body into super speed (see: Sonic the Hedgehog) these past ten days with both reading and running, since the two do go so well together. And somehow, I’ve managed to finish nine books in nine days. Don’t ask me how I did this, maybe it was by having two single digit paged books in my pile to read, or maybe my two jobs 10 to 8 everyday aren’t filling enough of my time, (humble brag), but either way I have literally become the superwoman I spoke of in my earlier blog (see: Captain Planet with Boobs and a little Magic School Bus teacher on the side). Literally, every book I’ve read this year so far has been amazing, with Shelter by Jayne Anne Phillips being my least favorite because the language was too dense for me to really absorb it through my pores and ride the words to the last period. However, the last book I finished was titled In The Bedroom by Andre Dubus (Yes, one of the stories in the collection has been turned into a movie with that title) and I want to write quickly about how much I recommend this read.
Funnily enough, I had already read two of these stories. It took me about halfway through, but after I recognized and made a few connections, I realized I had read both of them in a fiction writing class. The problem I have with this was that I didn’t really love them then. I kind of understood the merit and the reasons behind Norton anthologizing each story and I vaguely remember plot summary, but mostly I was rushing through the book because it was “educational” and not “lyrical” or “relaxing.” What I’m trying to say is that I had to read it for class and when you read something for class you either find it underwhelming, or you completely overanalyze it to the point that it’s no longer wonderful, and becomes a dud.
Andre Dubus is amazing (there’s that word again Jen). He’s the Joseph Millar of fiction writing. Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus should have been bearded best buddies and spent their lives boozing and letting their mouths round with words. They are men of the same jeans (and I mean jeans as in raggedy blue denim). They are working men, or so I’ve led myself to believe from reading a lot of their stories. Dubus resembled Santa Clause late in his life and I think Raymond Carver could have written a story where Mrs. Clause left him if they would have only found each other in their lifetimes. What I really want to talk about (when I talk about love – I couldn’t resist the Carver wittiness) is how alive I was in these stories. Everyone wants, and loves a book where they become a character in the bar drinking a Bloody Mary, or a White Russian, watching the characters talk to one another, maybe their palms sweating on the bar. Or maybe, you imagine yourself as the family of the boy killed in “A Father’s Story” and yet, as a girl, I personally understood the story in a whole new light because I think my father would do that for me. (And yet, he wouldn’t do that for my brother. It’s the daughters you have to worry about, it’s the daughters that call for sawed off shotguns in the South).
Let’s be honest for a second, I bought this book because the title was In the Bedroom and I thought it would be raunchy literary. As in, still anthologized, still accepted by writing scholars and critics, but sexy, sensual, under the sweet sheets (and cheeks) of a queen bed. In the corner of a room, next to the wall, with dirty sheets, or a clean comforter. Wherever Dubus placed me, I was hoping I’d be with lovers. (Is that creepy)? No one ever really thinks out loud about the books they choose unless they use the excuse, “it had a wonderful cover” which is rarely the case of why people purchase certain books (in my opinion). And yet, while I was always in, and around the bedroom (going to bed, avoiding the bed, rolling over, dreaming, reading, petting), I wasn’t always comfortable there. I wasn’t in love, or I was waiting for something that wouldn’t come, or I went to bed angry (as a reading character I mean…maybe I’m taking this metaphor too far). Sometimes, at my worst, I was alone.
And this is what a good book should make you do: read with them. You’re them, you’re there, you’re in the reality episode that is a short story. Instead of watching Jersey Shore, or Road Rules v Real World Challenge, or *dare I say it* The Bachelor, read an episode of entertainment. Andre Dubus and his characters both in and out of bed will be much more lively than Snooki and her vagina, I guarantee it. That’s all I really wanted to say, was to read this book, I just said it long-windedly. My eyes are getting tired just looking at this typing so I’m going to head onwards to the news and let you have your time back.
Here are any links I’ve found of Andre Dubus stories – in case you didn’t believe my opinion and needed a taste before swallowing.
- “Delivering” by Andre Dubus in Harper’s.
- “A Father’s Story” by Andre Dubus in Narrative Magazine.
- An article starring both Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus. It seems that I wasn’t the only one who made the connection between the two, drats.
- Elton John will pen a book about AIDs. This makes me happy.
- Pastor writes book about sex, reviewers don’t know how to feel. What are they supposed to say? That’s an intimate life situation and it would be weird for me to pen a book with my wife about our intimate life IN THE BEDROOM (Couldn’t stop myself). But seriously, isn’t this a bit over the top….the Pope would not agree.
- This happened in the State I grew up in and although I had nothing to do with it, and neither did any of my family line, I’m still completely disappointed. Forced sterilization … and I’m sure it still happens today.
- Books prevail. People who ban books (especially Sherman Alexie & Judy Blume) make me want to throw small animals across rooms, and time zones.
- Homeless student nabs book deals. From car seats to …. I can’t even think of a rhyme. If anyone does, I’ll give three, exactly three, pats on the back. Also, from tunnels to….
- I am SERIOUSLY begging anyone in the UK to send me a letter with Roald Dahl stamps…or to just send me some Roald Dahl stamps. The BFG is my favorite children’s book of all time. Please, please, please, please. There’s a collectors set with The BFG because it turns 30 years old this year. I’m …. I …. will like implode if someone sends me these. I will love you forever. (Email me, or tweet message me if you can do this for me). (Update: Don’t worry I already bought both the stamps, and mini-cards).
- Most romantic love letters of all time?I will have to read them to believe anything gets better than F.Scott Fitzgerald and the woman he loved and hated for his life time.
- SAVE THE LGBT BOOKSTORE. There are no reasons that should be more important than just for the fact that it’s the only one left.
- Oh, the copyright battle. Read this from a writer for Huffington Post, and then listen here for the Diane Rehm Show discussion.
- Unions and libraries should be one of the first groups of people to get along.
- Finding Identity through Poetry on NPR My personal motto: Poetry IS Necessary.
- Amanda Hocking is unbelievable, I’m inspired by her story.
- The Story: To Do Well in Life, You have to Read Well.
And that’s it for my sharing this week. Now, I’m going to bed. I played exactly two card games and one charades game with my teens this afternoon, finished writing a stellar grant for the non-profit org, did a wii ten-minute ab workout and ran two miles so I’m ready for bed…in the bedroom. (ZING)!