Newsday Tues(wednes)Day


Favorite Tweets:

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Favorite Search Terms:

  • true fortunes promise is a redhaired madonness.- french proverb: This will be my quote of the day for the rest of the week at school. YES.
  • perks of being a wallflower multiple choice test: This just makes me want to say, “yuck.”
  • grammar in beasts of no nation: You must be reading this in school because this is a strange search term.  This reminds me, just once I would like the person who searched this to return to my blog and tell me what they were thinking.  We could have a blog every week called, “What were the searchers thinking?”

Book News:

Newsday Tuesday

Favorite Tweets:

Favorite Search Terms:

  • things with horns: unicorns, dragons, cars, dinosaurs, rhinoceros, some bugs…I just laughed out loud when I saw someone googled this because a few weeks ago, at the teen center, we were playing family feud and all the guys wanted to put “cars” and I was yelling “unicorns!!” and guess who had more points?  ME.
  • the human mind is not capable of grasping the universe. we are like a little child entering a huge library. the walls are covered to the ceilings with books in: I can’t even fit this whole google on this page.  Someone wanted to get philosophical with the google machine.
  • poem to remind the boys to lift a toilet lid: I just know some fed-up mom googled this.  I want a poem to make sure my nephew pees into the bowl and not along the rim where other people place their delicates.

Book News:

Newsday Tuesday

Month of Letters

Update: Month of Letters is going quite swimmingly.  Daily, I’m happy to unhook that black box at the end of my driveway, above where my mother has planted an assortment of peach flowers.  I’ve been enjoying rhyming #2 with “goo” on the lick line of the close of the envelope.  And what girl doesn’t love to doodle petals and leaves everywhere?  Thanks for being a part of my project, there are still empty days – no one is too late.  Feel free to send me your address now.

Favorite Tweets:

Favorite Search Terms of the Week:

  • Cassie M______: They love me, they really love me.  Or, they’ve received my resume and have immediately decided not to hire this quirky, curly haired girl because one of her blogs has “uterus” in the title.
  • Rush Limbaugh Picking Nose:  Clearly this person doesn’t need to hear anymore about cruelty to women, he/she just wants to know how Rush digs for gold.
  • Aggressive Business Cards: Are you a ninja?  Perhaps an evil villain? Maybe a zombie…
  • examples of metaphor poems comparing mosquitoes to fireworks: I almost want to google this myself, just to see.
  • Sylvia Plath handwriting: I would like this analyzed.  I did a project on handwriting for the 7th grade science fair.  I’m a professional.
  • southern girl quotes: I just like to be known as a southern girl, my grandfather would be proud.

Book News:

Favorite Tumblr:

Lovely Poem, Lovely Tumblr.

And that is it. Have a wonderful week.

Backlogged | Lorrie Moore Obsession

Dude, where’s my life?

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had anytime to review the wonderful books I’ve read throughout half of February.  I’m going to have to let a few slip by, but two of them I can’t really just let go of that easily.  One is an oldie but a goodie, and the other is brand spankin’ new.  So, today, oldie but goodie.  Next week, brand spankin’ new.

Lorrie Moore Creeper

First lesson in reading or writing literary fiction: if you haven’t read Lorrie Moore, put your pencil down, stop patting yourself on the back for that witty new character you’ve created and go to the literature, particularly the M’s for Moore.  As a side note, if you haven’t read Lorrie Moore, I can not be your friend until you do that.  I know, I have harsh standards for friendship, but that’s definitely one of my top five, after loyalty and before good note passing skills (in my later years we call those penpalships, or letters on stationary).

I’m not even sure I can dare speak about Lorrie Moore.  I’m not even sure, like Alice, I can reach the door knob of Lorrie Moore’s castle.  But, as always, I’m going to try.

Self-Help, at its heart is a collection of stories on how to be a helper of mankind.  I know that sounds really sentimental, but she does it in a way that you don’t even see coming.  One second you’re in this imagined lovers-turned-roommates relationship and the next second (boom) you’re in the clutches of your own life, unable to breathe and heaving for air.  To be honest, I’m pretty sure I’m the girl in both “How” and “How to Become a Writer.”  And this is definitely not a case of me reading too into things.  But that’s the glory of Lorrie Moore, you actually think you’re a character, even beyond that anonymous “you.”   You find yourself saying, “wait, I would totally meet a boyfriend at a ‘rummage sale'” or “‘escape into [a] book.  When he asks what you’re reading, hold it up without comment.'”  I’m really passive aggressive, a perfect girl to hold a book and continue in the silence.

Plus, I’m not going to lie, but every time I read this book (probably at eight times right about now, counting all the anthologized stories I read throughout undergrad ficiton writing classes) I still feel like one of these women.  I still feel caught up in my life, or like I could stab my (invisible) husband in a bakery if I caught him cheating.  This is probably saying more about me than it is about this book.

Drawing of Moore's story "To Fill" by artist Sam Jacoff

I don’t even know really how to describe Lorrie Moore’s writing because it’s just fascinating to look at.  She uses metaphors like everything can be related to everything.  It’s almost a six degree separation with her.  One of the quotes below has a man making love to a woman but using robotic movements like someone opening a cupboard.  Who would think that way?  It’s like her brain is a series of pockets that correlate with one another and of course sex-cupboard, why haven’t we made this connection before?  I wish it was that easy for all writers, but then we wouldn’t have like Lorrie Moore to both teach and humble us.

She’s also both witty and sentimental which is hard to do.  At times you think witty and cynical go together and other times you want to cry because she’s leaving you broken from all angles.  I think the star of this collection is the use of second person to make the reader be literally in the story.  A lot of people are turned off by the “you” but I think in every instance she uses it, although it’s a lot, it works.  (So, get turned on).  I’m not sure that if the writing was less impeccable and less finely detailed than Moore’s, that I would have accepted so many stories in second person.

Signature of Lorrie Morre on Self-Help

In the story, “Amahl and the Night Visitors” Moore chronicles a break-up from moment of initial demise all the way through packing bags (initial demise is of course a cat, aren’t they always)?  However in “How to Talk to Your Mother” she does almost the opposite by chronicling a girls life backwards by year.  From years without your mother, to the womb.  This is probably the moment where I learned ten pages make a life.  In fact, one page, one sentence, probably makes a life.  Thus, why we have six word memoirs.  In fact, I dare you all (readers and whoever else happens to stumble here by googling bad things) to write a chronicle of your life backyards using a person or a situation as the nail it all hangs on.  Moore uses the mother to define the daughter, now you use something in your own life to chronicle yourself backwards, and of course use the second person, “you.”  See where it gets you, email what you come up with.  This is a dare, a triple dog dare.  I’ll do it too, I need to write anyway.

The best gift, from the best writers, is the need to tell your own story; made-up or true. That’s what I believe.

I’ll end this by saying: Lorrie Morrie is all of the things that I want to be when I grow up.

Here are my favorite quotes:

  • “Beware of a man who says he loves you but who is incapable of a passionate confession, of melting into a sob.” (43, Moore, “What is Seized”). First of all how does she manipulate grammar that way.  Secondly, isn’t this a story of a whole generation of men and boys in just one sentence.
  • “When your parents divide, you, too bifurcate.  You cleave and bubble and break in two, live two lives, half of you crying every morning on the dock at sunrise, black hair fading to dusky gray, part of you traveling off to some other town where you teach school and tell jokes in an Italian accent in a bar and make people laugh.  And when your mother starts to lose her mind, so do you.  You begin to be afraid of people on the street.  You see shapes — old men and spiders — in the wallpaper again like when you were little and sick.  The moon’s reflection on the lake starts to look to you like a dead fish floating golden belly up.  Ask anyone.  Ask anyone whose mother is losing her mind.” (42, Moore, “What is Seized”) I think she wanted to use bifurcate in a sentence, and tell you what divorce is like.  I think she writes magic into places on peoples bodies where it has died, or has become lonely.  
  • “I think of my father, imagine him long ago at night casually parting my mother’s legs with the mechanical indifference of someone opening a cupboard.  And I say to myself: I will leave every cold man, every man for whom music is some private physics and love some unsteppable dance.  I will try to make them regret.  To make them sad.  I am driving toward my tiny kitchen table and I will write this: forgiveness lives alone and far off down the road, but bitterness and art are close, gossipy neighbors, sharing the same clothesline, hanging out their things, getting their laundry confused. (46, Moore, What is Seized). 

I have more favorite quotes that go beyond that one story, but I think those quotes kind of tell a story on their own.


  1. Here is a wonderful interview with Lorrie Moore from Paris Review.  I think her answers aren’t sprinted through, but well-thought out.
  2. Here is another one from The Believer where she answers different questions.
  3. The Short Review…review of Self-Help.
  4. The American Literary Review (blogspot). I’m kind of obsessed with the title of this blog.

Newsday Tuesday:

I recently discovered the tool that lets google and other search engines show your blog when people go traipsing about the internet.  And it has yielded some fantastic results.  As this is my personal news show, I decided to share these results with you.  Please keep in mind what you’re seeing here are actual search terms by actual people (unless there really are robots using computers).  However, no animals were used in the testing of these terms.

  • Banksy Shark Fin – It’s amazing how many people get into graffiti when one man makes himself anonymous and sprays girls holding balloons.  If you’re a badass like me and have had gang training you drive through highway tunnels and find yourself trying to guess the gang that goes with what symbol.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Octopus Wallpaper – Octopuses genuinely creep me out.  Ever since Little Mermaid and seeing a small one suction cup his morsels to the side of a dentist office tank, I’ve been living in fear.  Plus, people in the Great Barrier Reef or who visit the Great Barrier Reef (like me, lucky, lucky) usually want pictures of sea turtles, or sharks.
  • Short Cheers – I am not a cheer leader.  I know, I know, my curly hair throws people off and they think, “oh, how perfect that hair would look in a too-high ponytail waving like a Brady Bunch sister in a cheerleading competition.”  I do, however, like mega-horns.
  • Many armed starfish – Is the sea creating an army?  Also, is that why treasure hunters have found THIS in the Baltic Sea?
  • Sharapova I’m blushing – I hope to the Dear Lord above that an thirteen year old boy typed this into google after seeing nudie pictures.  In googling this myself, I came across this blog:
  • What is the word for people who get sexually excited over bowel movements? –  If you are dating this man, send him to that infamous video with those two women and their cup…and move on.  This is my 21st century dating advice.
  • My bare ass – no words. Well, maybe some…if your bare ass is on google, sweet bro.
  • Yes, fist pump woman – This just makes me hope that somewhere in the world, there is a commercial with a woman screaming “Yes!” and fist-pumping…rather than the Herbal Essences commercials where women are saying yes and lathering themselves in shampoo.
  • Japanese Fetish Clubs – I really have nothing to say for this. It’s probably my favorite one.

That is it for this weeks: Search Terms.  Add a catchy song voice to it when you say it, ready, go: “Search Terms.”  Like in that commercial where they go, “Dot Com.”  I have already forgotten the rest.

Now onto the BOOK news:

  • A Wrinkle in Time is turning 50! Ow, Ow! And this “geek mom” wants you to blog tour with her about it.
  • World Book Night is coming in April and Picador wants you to help celebrate.  Go here for details.
  • Here is the official link for World Book Night so you can figure out how to do your part:

    World Book Night

Clever Docking for Book Lover

Recently, I finished two PRINT books with obvious technical errors (extra words, unreadable sentences) and it kind of shocked me. Are we so obsessed with the e-book culture that we have editor’s who slack on the printing, reading and editing of new, and profound literature?  Does the e-book culture make people care less about the technicalities of a book and more about the font, since they feel it isn’t as serious as coming off a printing machine?  I’ve already found two errors in Wildwood (the print version), my new favorite children’s book series and I’m only 167 pages in on the 500 and some page book.  It’s just disappointing that not only is this happening in e-literature, but in print books now as well.  Has e-literature just made this acceptable, period?  I’m usually not an angry letter writer (although that would fit with my demure personality) but I think I’m going to have to write Harper Children’s for this one.  As most of you know, Harper Perennial is like my dream Publisher.  I would wipe toilet seats to work in that office.  If a branch of Harper is going to have quick, technical errors like this in a huge, illustrated, and fantastic adventure story – how can I justify that they’re (fixed thanks to Claire, YAY)! my favorite publisher? Get your shit together, Harper.  I know that sometimes errors slip by, but this is the second one in one book and just because it’s a children’s book doesn’t means it needs a less editorial stringent process.  Adults read these books too, that’s why it says “9+” on it.  (Mini-rant).

Everyone enjoy their Tuesdays, and regardless of error – pick up your copy of Wildwood today.