Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 4 - your favorite book.

Day 4 - your favorite book. has it changed since your loss?

My favorite books change and stay the same. I can't quite pinpoint one.

After Lucy died, I definitely felt a strong connection to Elizabeth McCracken's Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination. She is an amazing writer, and after I finished that book, I went on and devoured all her other books--the Giant's House (amazing) and Niagara Falls All Over Again (funny, lots of dead babies) and her collection of short stories Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry. And then found out the friend she refers to is Ann Pachett, whose Bel Canto was such an amazing read, it was easy for me to go on and devour her books too, which I did. That is what I do, I suppose, and if I were a Japanese Super Monster, I would be GodBookDevourerRa or something. I basically plow through authors, and then wallow and mourn the end of their books. It is like getting dumped by a really great boyfriend. You can't help but compare the next one to him, even if they are halfway decent, they still aren't as good as your last book.

Funnily, until writing this right now, if you had asked me what I read after Lucy died, I would have said crap, except Exact Replica. But none of those books by EMac or APatch (they have automatic Rap Names when they get mentioned on Still Life) were crap. Not a stinker in the bunch, in fact, I loved all of them. And it was even hard for me to discern which I liked best, because, while they were all uniquely their own, they all touched something in me, like nostalgia for a time I didn't live, or love for a character...Anyway, I think I read crap, because the crap is what I talked about with others more often than not. Because for Christmas, Sam bought me Twilight, thinking I would like mindless reading, and I did. I did like it at the time. She really did an amazing job of putting you into the mindset of being a teenage girl again, all weedy and weird and obsessing over the hot guy. I giggled in bed when I was reading it. My breasts were still engorged and leaking horribly sad milk, and I actually fucking giggled like a little teenage girl who a vampire just checked out.

So there is that.

But I now loathe the series, because I think it is so anti-feminist and anti-woman, and wish that teenage girls would not read it, or if they read it, stop at the third book. The fourth book destroys all semblance of the world she created in the first three. See, there are literary affronts for which Stephenie Meyer will never make right no matter how many Oprah shows she does and how much money she gives to needy folk. I love when I read a book where the author creates a world with laws and physics and supernatural crap. I will suspend my disbelief for you. I won't poke holes in your universe. If you tell me it rains spaghetti, I will play along, but don't just start making it rain spaghetti from Earth to cloud in the fourth book because unbeknownst to your readers, you follow and upside down spaghetti religion. Stephenie Meyers just fucking DESTROYED her universe in the fourth book. She spit on it, danced about, kicked it in your face. She flaunted her god-like author powers, and it ruins everything she has ever written. She creates laws of this Twilight universe, then breaks them. Okay, vampires exist. And so do shapeshifting Indian tribes. I get it. I am with you, Stephenie Meyers. Cute. When you reaffirm over and over again that the vampires are dead people, I get it. They must drink the blood of humans to continue walking the earth. They crave blood because they are dead. Without life. No living cells. No pulse. No actual human-like characteristics besides being perfect predators to feast on the blood of living people. And there is a spoiler coming up so SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH if you aren't interested in having me spoil your fun.............................Stephenie Meyer, if you want me to believe that Edward Cullen and all his people are dead, do not make his sperm live. That, to me, is like an upside down spaghetti storm. The thing is, the living sperm is for a religious agenda that seems unnecessary in a book already about vampires. Make up your own mind, but you know, I disapprove of Book Four so much that I cannot abide by any of it anymore. All that being said, they are truly terribly written to begin with. I think that is why it reminds me of being a teenager, because I also wrote terribly when I was a teenager.

So, I read the Twilight series, then I read all of the Harry Potter books in a row for the first time ever. (I know, GAWD, I AM SO LAME AND BEHIND.) But they were awesomely magnificent, and that is part of the reason Twilight and other series books bug the shit out of me. JK Rowling really knew what was happening at every turn. She is the Goddess of that universe. She is Fate. She is Physics. She is the Puppetmaster. And nothing breaks stride. It was amazing, even with the elves. I then read the Sookie Stackhouse series. All of them. In a row. They were so much fun. Not particularly well-written, but great sex scenes, and I like her universe a great deal. About or around Book Seven, to juxtapose with Harry Potter, I actually put the book down and said, "She is making this up as she goes along."

Anyway, so, yeah, pretty crappy entertaining books. It helped me, though, to be less pretentious about books, and less, uh, judging of series and people who read them. They have been a hoot, and my sister keeps poking me to read fantasy and more elf-y books, and sometimes I think I might. I just want to be entertained. I don't need my mind expanded every book. Mindless drivel has its place. Lucy's death taught me that amongst other wiser insights.

But my favorite top five books before Lucy died are: Written on the Body by Jeannette Winterson, Independent People by Halldor Laxness, The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham and Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and as I press publish, I will think of fifteen more of my favorites. I did reread The End of the Affair and the Painted Veil after Lucia died and they both were so different and also absolutely maintained their standing on the top five list.


  1. Last night as I was laying awake in bed I was thinking about what my Day 4 was be--and instantly An Exact Replica . . . came to mind. It *will* be in my post. It's funny, but before E, our first, was born, I'd taken an early maternity leave and was reading a book a day. I started Bel Canto while in the hospital, waiting for him to arrive.

    I found it very comforting to know Ann Pachett and E McCrack were such good friends. Also I was comforted by the parallel, reading a book by a mother of a living child after E, then the books by EMac after our loss.

    Also, word to Harry Potter.

  2. Firstly, may I say that all of this 30 posts in 30 days made me do a little mental happy dance. I know I can't pull it off but I can't wait to read other folks' stuff.

    I pretty much exist on a heavy diet of lowbrow reading (although my husband makes sure that I read something without heaving bosoms at least once/year). I completely agree with the therapeutic effects of books with elves, time-travel, tortured heroes with supernatural powers, etc. I also completely agree with your assessment of the Twilight 'saga.' That last book was like some effed-up after school special.

    I made the mistake of reading "The River Wife" sometime in the first few months after R died. It was too soon for all of that mayhem and, since I do most of my reading on commuter rail, it's important to stick to things that bring the funny--or at least don't make me cry in public.

  3. I might go so far as to argue that even mindless drivel (the enjoyable stuff, anyway) is rarely all that mindless - I think we take more from books we read for pleasure than we realize. I like to think I've learned more from Terry Pratchett (I read a LOT of Pratchett in the months after Teddy died) than from Philip Roth, for example :)

    If you aren't sated with vampires, I highly recommend Robin McKinley's Sunshine.

  4. The Harry Potter books are really good for that exact reason. I am really good at finding mistakes in books and I can't think of any in those. (Well, I remember that I've found one or two TINY ones, but I can't remember what they were.) (Wait, Dean Thomas said two different things about his father.)

  5. I have Bel Canto on my 'to be read' pile. Sadly lurking alongside it is book four of the Twilight series (which I enjoyed in a queasy kind of way but it looks like book four might change all that) and all the Sookie Stackhouse books.

    I still haven't managed to even open an Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination. I just can't face it.

  6. Me Talk Pretty One Day is my all time favorite book, David Sedaris is a comedic genius. I lost my only copy and haven't read it since Aiden died, but if there's anything on earth that could make me laugh til I cry and/or pee it's anything written by him.

    Also, Exact Replica was so beautifully written. I read it just a month after he died.

  7. I'm another one who adored "An exact replica" and recommended it for our SANDS library too. I tend to be bit of a zealot about books I like - demanding that other people like them too. Thank you for this Angie. Looking through the list of questions, I realised that I visited some of this stuff in the earlier days of my blog. I'm off to do my response on my blog now.

  8. I read constantly. When I don't have a book I am reading and a book in reserve I start to get anxious. With a big pile of new material in front of me I can sit on the couch all weekend and read until my eyes cross.

    Because of this, there are simply too many books that speak to me to choose a favorite. But, as you know, my favorite book about loss is "Kitchen", by Banana Yoshimoto. I picked it up again after we spoke about it, wondering if it would still ring true now that the losses it evoked for me weren't about boyfriends and such. I still think she got it exactly right.

    By the way, I read An Exact Replica... after I had been reading you for a while. It's good. I prefer you.

  9. This made me laugh out loud...and I had to send a link to your post to a friend who felt similarly about the twilight post. you nailed it so well.

    A friend sent me one of David Sedaris' books after Lyra first introduction to him.

  10. First of all, I love this: "if I were a Japanese Super Monster, I would be GodBookDevourerRa or something."

    I have all the same feelings about ... well ... all the books. I love EMac's writing, but I also agree with your take on Twilight, HP, and Sookie. I think Rowling deserves every accolade she gets -- she owns that world and knows how to present it. It is airtight. I never believed Meyer had the same understanding of her world, and all the books had one problem or another. I loved the mindlessness of them, but that was about it.

    And now I am on Sookie and it's just fun. I just needed something fun this summer and now in fall. And that is what it's perfect for -- to distract and fill that space where you need a book, but you also need that book to take you out of what is happening right now and into someone else's world.

  11. It's funny...our reading choices have been eerily similar in the last while.

    I also just finished the Harry Potter series. I thought *I* was the last person on earth to have read them (or I was according to my nieces and nephews).

    I also breezed through the Sookie Stackhouse series. Not great literature by any means but good fun.

    I have An Exact Replica...on my reading wasn't available when I lost my daughter seven years ago.


What do you think?