Greetings and welcome to the Tights Watch 2016 edition of You Are What You Read. This week’s housekeeping is as follows: Thanks to Alan and Sally for the Offerings of Taffy from their Maine vacations. We thank you! In Animals Run Amok news, here is your chance to do some professional cat wrangling should you be so inclined. Steph has alerted me that our friends at The Cat Circus are looking for a Tour Assistant. They are based out of Chicago so you all would have to relocate but how could one pass up the chance to not only work with the cats but also a chicken and a groundhog whilst driving around with said cats and chicken and groundhog in a 45 foot tour bus. If you’re in the market for a career change you can read about that on Craiglist, but be warned they do want someone with experience (which is not something I want to think too much about) and there is no word on whether or not they’ll comp your allergy meds.
What’s Tights Watch you ask? Well, all good things like beach weekends and contraband in a Solo cup, the bare leg will also have to come to an end. If you guess which day we ALL finally break down and break out the tights there will be some sort of fabulous, bookish, taffy-fueled You Are What You Read sort of prize in your future. And of course the fame and the glory for being tragically correct in your guess. No wagering though People. That’s illegal and we can’t have that. So get me the date which you think is our drop dead bare leg day. Fame and glory. Could. Be. Yours. Thanks to Steph (again) for the idea!
I really have to say that I had no idea that You Are What You Read was responsible for maintaining order in the universe. During the two week break, some disturbing news has come out of what the Traveling Companion calls without irony The Homeland. It would appear that people in clown dress and makeup complete with wigs have been lurking in the woods of North and South Carolina. It is unsure whether this is just one clown or multiple clowns. Sometimes the clown tries to lure children into the woods with the promise of candy. Sometimes the clown is just, well, lurking. In one instance, when a resident saw a clown skulking in the woods, he called 911 and took off after him with a machete. This cannot stand People. Clowns are meant to be corralled in a circus; where we can choose not to spend our money to see them. Period. Clowns have no business in woods luring children away from loving families with sweet, yet empty candy promises. Be ever vigilant People. Don’t let this become a Thing. You can read about that at People.
This week we have barbecue, science, evolution, techno-rave, newlyweds, angst, Nigeria, some creepy and a mid-life rut. Playlist? Don’t be frightened! Come closer. Listen to the calliope. Have some candy. Of course there’s The Playlist.
Let us begin!
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan has just finished Truly, Madly, Guilty by Lianne Moriaty. She’s not excited. “Marriages are fractured, lifelong friendships which are tested, and boundaries are crossed in Lianne Moriarty’s newest book, Truly, Madly, Guilty. Three families gather for an afternoon barbecue and in one moment of carelessness their lives are changed forever. Sounds dramatic, right? Unfortunately, in my opinion, not so much. I am a big fan of Moriarty’s books, and enjoy her multi-perspective writing style. I like how she uses that style to develop her characters and build out the story. Even though she remained true to her signature style with this book, I found her story was flat, lacked suspense and was way too drawn out. She also had too many unnecessary issues going on with all of the characters that were frankly distracting. Overall, I would say Truly, Madly, Maybe Not…”
Laura is here with her opinion on a native son’s latest project. “Porcelain by Moby, is not what I expected. The electronic music sensation talked about growing up poor in Darien, his early years as a DJ in Fairfield County and living in one of the abandoned warehouses in Stamford in the 1980’s. His dream in his early 20s was to get a gig in the city even though his style of techno-rave music had not yet hit its stride. He is finally asked to DJ the 4 a.m. slot at an East Village dive bar and from there his fame and his music are discovered. He was unassuming and lived a spiritual life, praying daily and joining bible groups regularly. He took life in stride, always in search of the meaning in life. His essays are wonderfully written and rich with the musings of an artist.”
The Always Fabulous Babs B has been raving about Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris to anyone who will listen. “Meet newlyweds Grace and Jack Angel. He is a wealthy, handsome attorney who has never lost a case and she is a beautiful flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener, cook and dotes on her younger sister who has Down Syndrome. Grace and Jack seem to lead a perfect life, but appearances can be deceiving as the reader discovers when drawn into this gripping, claustrophobic thriller. Without giving anything away, you can tell something very bad was going to happen to Grace and her sister, Millie. This was one of the best and most terrifying psychological thrillers I have ever read!”
Sweet Ann has a new book to love with Miss Jane by Brad Watson. “This is a wonderful thought provoking novel based on the author's great-aunt and the difficult life she had because of a birth defect. Jane Chisolm was born in 1915 with a defect in her genitalia that caused her to never really have control of her bodily functions. As a result, she had to wear a diaper throughout her life. Her parents felt her condition was caused by bad decisions and life choices they had made. Her father was very gentle and loving towards her and helped her appreciate all she had. Her mother was a bit harsh due to her own sadness about losing a son she loved dearly when he was three years old. Dr. Thompson, the country doctor, who delivered Jane is her hero. He teaches her about her differences and tries vainly to find a doctor who can help her. Jane is an interesting character who will draw you into her world. This is a novel with characters who will become a part of you. You understand their angst, hopes and sorrows. Mr. Watson is a writer of beautiful prose and I look forward to reading one of his previous books.
Kaitlin from the Rock is making an appearance this week! This is always a wonderful thing. “Hi!!
It took me forever to get through, but I just finished Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is a really beautiful story of two Nigerian high school sweethearts, Ifemelu and Obinze. Ifemelu ends up moving to the US and Obinze to London, and the story follows the two, alternating between each. We learn about Ifemelu's struggle with race and identity in the US, something she really hadn't dealt with in Nigeria, and about Obinze's nightmare of being an undocumented immigrant trying to get by in England. The story follows them both back to Nigeria, where they ultimately return many years later. It took me a bit longer to get through than most other books because I really wanted to make sure I read every word, but it was an excellent story and I already miss the characters!”
Reed wants everyone to know that she loved When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi so much that she is “Dying to read it again; loved the intersection of humanity’s frailty and science.” Ok Reed! Duly noted.
James is here this week. Fair warning. He’s not happy. “Up until the last seven pages, I found Kingdom of Speech to be a compelling retelling of the histories of the theory of evolution and modern linguistics highlighting the heavy-hitting contributions of uncelebrated, though purportedly deserving scientists. But with the exclamation, “Bango!”, the tone of the books abruptly shifts. Wolfe, now writing in the first person, rants wildly, hurling propositions about, convinced that they are falling orderly upon the foundation he has laid thus far. With the final sentence of the book, you can almost see Wolfe standing proudly atop the conclusion of his argument despite being surrounded by the smoldering wreckage of incoherent blathering. After flipping back and forth through the last few pages, dumbfounded, I went to my computer and searched “Kingdom of Speech WTF did I just read”, which I would generally consider that too crude to include in a review, but if Charles Mann can get away with it in his review in the WSJ (which my search found), I’m gonna say I can get away with it here. He writes of his reaction at the end of the book, “And here my pen dropped onto the bonded-vinyl flooring. I stared at the page with a slack, dopey expression. I scratched my fuzzy head. I just did not understand.” While I can actually recommend this book alone for introducing me to Wallace and Everett and their interactions with/objections to Darwin and Chomsky, respectively, Wolfe’s sudden stampede off the deep end forces me to question the reliability of the previously constructed historical narratives. The conclusion is undeniably provocative and makes you doubt your reading comprehension so much that it may just deserve a read for that experience."
Steph is back from her trip to England. “One of my vacation reads was Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh, which I’ve been meaning to read since it came out, and finally grabbed in London. It was worth the wait! So deliciously creepy and well-written. I don’t want to divulge even a detail of the plot because it’s such a delight to read it as it unfolds and sucks you in. Fans of Patricia Highsmith and The Secret History will gobble it up. It’s the perfect book to read on a long cold night with a glass of red wine—and those nights aren’t too far away, now.”
I turned to The Nix by Nathan Hill out of desperation. Nothing I had to read was suiting so I thought I would take a chance on a book that has been touted as one of the best debut novels of the fall book season. I resisted because the premise was one that felt forced to me. Well, I was wrong. Now I am almost missing my train stops, and I find myself chortling over lines like: “Samuel thought how his father married to his mother was like a spoon married to a garbage disposal”. Samuel is a middle-aged college professor who is in a rut that is starting to feel more like a ditch. He is facing a stalled career, a novel that isn’t getting written for which his publisher is asking for the already spent advance back and a failed romance. And it all seems to spool back to the fact that his mother abandoned he and his father when Sam was 12-years-old. But when mom Faye reappears in the most public of ways as the ‘Packer Attacker’ Sam is forced to try to find out who this woman really is. Is she the angry 60s radical being painted by the press? Or is she a sweet Midwestern girl who married her high school sweetheart? The cast of characters is wonderful; there’s the blow-hard anti-immigration political candidate, the college co-ed who does not understand what a liberal arts education is all about, the gamer friend who seems to truly live under a rock and of course Sam himself navigating the landscape of his life. I highly recommend this one.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North. It’s a rare event that she literally has no words. Only The Playlist. I think the clowns scared the words out of her. “This week I have no words, only a playlist. Sleep tight. “