Reading: Elizabeth Strout’s “Anything Is Possible”

Anything Is Possible, Elizabeth Strout, Hardcover, 254pp, April, 2017, Random House

Pulitzer Prize winner, Elizabeth Strout, is one of those writers whose work conjures the feeling one had as a child when first discovering the magic ability of books to draw you into worlds not your own, and yet, worlds where you discovered and explored parts of yourself you’d not known about before; one of those writers who introduce you to your own soul by illuminating with truth and insight and glorious, marvelous, extraordinary language the souls of their characters.

One of those writers who reminds you in your jaded, worn out from having so many mediocre to meh books thrown at you that this is writing! This is why I read.

So, you might just as well stop wasting time reading my thoughts about Elizabeth Strout’s latest magic act and go get the book. Right now. Read it for yourself. Go on.

Are you still here? All right, well then, I warn you there is little I am going to or can say that hasn’t already been better said by others. So, if you must read a review, I suggest Jennifer Senior’s from the April 26 edition of The New York Times. [click here] Go ahead. Click. Read a real review.

And STILL you’re reading me? Well, it’s not exactly what I am known for, but I will try to keep this brief so you can go read the book.

The novel is a hybrid, a beautiful, cohesive portrait composed of stand-alone pieces which coalesce into an emotional chiaroscuro of such depth and subtlety and artistry, one wants to spend forever exploring the shades and shadows and light and dark therein.

There are many themes woven through Anything Is Possible, but the thread which mesmerized me most was the unmasking of all the ways in which humans can misapprehend and misconstrue what looks and feels like and seems to be reality, and how the discovery of those misunderstandings or deceits or ignorances result in disappointment, anger, sorrow, and, almost always, more confusion. Anything Is Possible illuminates in breathtaking, devastating accumulation of particularities that even with all the details and gossip and glut of information we have about each other and the world, we really know very little about anything at all; including ourselves.

This book illustrates the crushing loneliness and ultimate solitude of being alive better than anything I have ever read. It captures the ways in which even the people we love the most are mysteries to us, and we to them, all of us with secrets, and how the distortions caused by the things we haven’t told and the stories we don’t know disrupt and limit and often destroy our lives.

I promised I would keep this short and I considered quoting the novel at length, but, while nearly every sentence is chiseled and shaped like something Michelangelo has wrought into life from marble, they are each more a masterpiece in context. So, I won’t quote. I will simply tell you one more time: GO! GO NOW! READ THIS BOOK! Because Elizabeth Strout is indeed a Michelangelo of literature, and she has made from the marble of our lives, a thing of such beauty it rivals his David.

Go. Read. Marvel.

 

Reading: “Bettyville” by George Hodgman

Bettyville by George Hodgman, Viking, 279pp

bettyville

Click on pic to go to Mr. Hodgman’s website.

George Hodgman accidentally vacated his Manhattan life to serve as caretaker – and, equally, abuse-taker – for his aging but irascibly independent, ninety-one year old mother, Betty. After a relationship constructed of the sort of intimate distancing, that mutually agreed-upon silence often mistaken for American-stoicism, and having shared many kinds and levels of love too reticent and inarticulate to dare speak their names, George and Betty battle and banter through fear, anger, and their history of silence to achieve a loving, laughing balance of resolved acceptance.

With mordant, self-deprecatory wit, reluctant and never mawkish warmth, Hodgman delivers more than memoir; Bettyville is also cultural commentary. Not only has Betty faded, but the town to which Hodgman returns has changed at least as much since the young George, who knew he was different and suffered for it, left to find a place to belong, a people with whom he could be home. In the intervening decades, as he explored his Continue reading

Reading: “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng

“Everything I Never Told You”  by Celeste Ng, 297pgs, Penguin Press, 2014 [click here]

Everything I Never Told You

Click Cover for Penguin Press page and how to purchase

Some books are so carefully, lovingly crafted, some stories so startlingly, truthfully told, some authors so prescient and insightful, so gifted at recreating the journeys of real people’s lives with words, rhythm, and a near-supernatural ability to know what to include and what to omit, that turning to the last page, one resists reading the final phrase. Some books, once they come to an end, leave you with both a fullness for having experienced the emotional arcs of the characters, and, too, an equal ache of emptiness, because they are finished now. There is not another chapter.

Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, is just such a book.

From its opening sentences:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

— the reader is riveted by the heartbreaks, the hopes, the secrets, the sorrows, the misunderstandings, the mistakes, those things misspoken, unspoken, and regretfully spoken by Lydia, her mother and father, Marilyn and James, her sister and brother, Hannah and Nath, and her neighbor, Jack. We come to know Lydia — and the others — through the thoughts and observances of each, the ways in which they see and miss one another.

This is a story about expectations and the cost of dreams. This is a story about discrimination both subtle and overt. This is a story about fear, especially the fear of saying and being out loud who one is and wants to be. This is a story about loving someone who doesn’t exist, of loving someone in secret, of loving someone less for who they are than from a longing to be seen and loved one’s self, and the tragedy of that love not being returned in that way.

The book begins with Lydia’s death and then goes back in time, jumps here and there and back again until arriving at that night when it happened. Along the way the characters’ weaknesses and strengths, wisdoms and ignorances are artfully limned, and though the end is inevitable given the opening sentence, the reader begins — as in real life having lost someone — to employ magical thinking in the hope Lydia’s death will be averted.

Ng’s prose is sculptural, her imagery often breathtaking. Listen to this memory of the early courtship of Lydia’s parents, James and Marilyn, having just painted his apartment and made love on the bed, pushed to the center of the room:

Later that afternoon, waking in the fading light, he noticed a tiny yellow blotch on the tip of Marilyn’s toe. After a moment of searching, he found a smudge on the wall near the end of the bed, where her foot had touched it as they made love: a dime-sized spot where the paint was blotted away. He said nothing to Marilyn, and when they pushed the furniture back into place that evening, the dresser concealed the smudge. Every time he looked at that dresser he was pleased, as if he could see through the pine drawers and his folded clothing straight to it, that mark her body had left in his space.

And this, much later when youngest child, Hannah, whose powers of observation border on preternatural — as are Ng’s — has realized at a family dinner that something horrible, world-altering is coming:

Hiding under the smooth white [icing], Hannah thought, was the pretend driver’s license, the Congratulations and the blue L-Y-D. Thought you couldn’t see it, it was there just underneath, covered up but smudged and unreadable and horrible. And you’d be able to taste it, too. Their father snapped picture after picture, but Hannah didn’t smile. Unlike Lydia, she had not yet learned to pretend. Instead she half shut her eyes, like she did during the scary parts of TV shows, so that she could only half see what came next.

That is a fantastic piece of writing. Almost as fantastic as another of Hannah’s precognitive perceptions, this one involving a drop of water trickling from Nathan’s hair described from page 210 to 212 that struck this reader with such force, I had to search Celeste Ng out on Twitter (I do not know her, she does not follow me, I am simply an appreciative — incredibly appreciative — reader) late last night to tell her it had left me breathless and weeping.

This is a stunning novel. And, as I said at the start, it left me both full from the glories of its prose and emotions, and empty, once finished, missing it. Fitting, that, as the life and death of Lydia does the same for all the other characters in the novel.

Read it. Really. Just read it.

I bought Celeste Ng’s “Everything I Never Told You” at my local independent bookstore, The Curious Iguana [CLICK HERE].

 

READING: “CALIFORNIA” by Edan Lepucki

California

Click on book to see where to purchase copy via IndieBound

California by Edan Lepucki. 400pp, Little, Brown and Company (CLICK HERE)

I want to be very careful not to write anything herein that would deny a reader their own journey of discovery through Edan Lepucki’s debut novel, California, so, instead of my own synopsis, I will quote from the publisher’s website. Listen:

“In her arresting debut novel, Edan Lepucki conjures a lush, intricate, deeply disturbing vision of the future, then masterfully exploits its dramatic possibilities.” —Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind’s dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.

I will, however, say this: I hope NEVER AGAIN to read a book in which is presented a world in which new books are no longer available. Listen, if I have to live without books, all I have to say is; “People, eat me first. I am ready to go.” Although I imagine this curmudgeonly old coot would require a week’s worth of slow-cooking in order to achieve anything like tenderizing. But I digress …

When you’ve been blurbed by Jennifer Egan and exalted by Stephen Colbert as one of the collateral damage martyrs in the Hachette Book Group versus Amazon contretemps, you hardly need me to write about your debut novel. In a stroke of prescience (or damned good luck), in her novel Ms. Lepucki named one of the closed off, sponsored, Disney-esque-Celebration(ish) “Communities” reserved for the rich and powerful Amazon.

Another aside so as not to give away plot points: I’ve read my share of dystopian fiction. Of late, however, life in the real world has become uncomfortably close to the “before” of these “after disaster” fictions, as I call them. I had awful dreams while reading California, those half-awake, hallucinatory, fever-induced type, chimerical-night-terrors, during which I kept trying to remind myself; “No, Charlie. You’re safe. The world is a safe place.”

Of course, with what’s happening in Gaza and Ukraine and Congress, what sort of Pollyanna-crack-smoking idiot is going to believe that?

But, back to the book. Why is it that when we – and by “we” I mean we as a society and the authors who voice our Zeitgeist-ian fears – so often fill these “after disaster” worlds with even worse selfishness, hunger for power, duplicity, and betrayal than the “before” world in which we now live? I mean, is it not possible – not even worth hoping for a little bit? – that having destroyed the world once, we might somehow manage to be kinder, better, more creators of light and love in the process of rebuilding? Must every dystopian fiction feature some Bob Jones-ian/Big Brother-ian world where humanity’s basest impulses rule?

Cal and Frida, hero and heroine — or, well, protagonists — of this novel, believe themselves to be alone inhabiting a cabin in the wilderness after having run from a collapsing Los Angeles. Their discovery of other survivors and runaways is fraught with the dangers wrought by the keeping of secrets and unchecked power, those all too human landmines of needing to believe in something – even if that something is one’s own delusionally hope-filled, truth-denying narrative.

Ms. Lupecki has used the post-semi-apocalyptic-framework to write an exploration of all sorts of relationships; romantic, familial, societal and cultural, gender-based, power-based, and, most intensely, the relationship with the self and one’s personal truth. The foundation of uncertainty and hyper-vigilance inculcated in the narrative by its collapsed-society setting creates a level of intensity and life-death desperation in each of those relationships that would be less believable were not every character feeling always in danger of being voted off some cosmic island.

But, I do California an injustice if you leave these paragraphs thinking it’s another near Young Adult “only the strong survive” sort of fantasy-cautionary-tale novel. It’s not. What gives Ms. Lupecki’s tale its heft and heart is the skillful way in which she weaves the histories of the characters into the present (future) moments. The characters are all compromised, as in, real human beings who have made (and continue to make) questionable moral choices which they struggle to justify – some with honesty, some with deceit and denial.

I look forward to more of Edan Lepucki’s writing. I especially look forward to a story in a non-dystopian setting. Honestly people, the real world is near-dystopian enough, I can’t take any more scary, we’re not going to have flush-toilets and potable water and bookstores kind of stories. I admit it; I’m too first-world privileged to survive that.

I purchased Edan Lupecki’s California at my local independent bookstore (where I now hang out most often since giving up tequila) THE CURIOUS IGUANA. Click anywhere in this sentence to go there — and you SHOULD.

 

 

READING: “THE VACATIONERS” by Emma Straub

Vacationers_3D_LOW11The Vacationers, a novel, by Emma Straub, 2014, Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), $26.95

I confess that I’ve read neither Emma Straub’s first novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, nor her short story collection, Other People We Married. I also confess that I resisted purchasing The Vacationers because the flapbio located Ms. Straub as a Brooklyn writer, which — in my warped little, vengeful and envious mind — is just one more odious hipster-lit, in-crowd sub-species like those who flapbrag they attended the Iowa Workshop.

But, buy it I did. First, the good news. Ms. Straub is clever, conversational, good with a catchy turn of phrase. She is funny in that “at one’s expense” insulting way of the good friend with the uncanny ability to zero in on the pecadillo-cum-character flaw of everyone she knows and make light of it; while sneering. The downside of such tender-snark evisceration is that one is left not much liking any of the characters in the novel, all of whom seem unaware of their privilege and self-involved to a near pathological level.

Haven’t we had enough books about rich white people? What do most of us have in common (and what can we possibly learn?) from people who can afford to live in Manhattan and Provincetown, summer in Mallorca, accrue triple digit credit-card debt and discuss selling stocks to remedy it, get forcibly retired from long-term, big careers for sleeping with an intern/assistant, buy a baby (sort of), are sexually pursued by ridiculously hot island boy/tutors and — well, you get the picture — and none of this seems to much phase any of them? Walk in the park stuff. I — who am being pursued by no one but  Capital One (and this for pretty much SINGLE digit debt) even as I type — have trouble sympathizing.

I know. It’s a beach read. I know. But I’m not at the beach. I’m working. I’m poor. I’ve got no hot young men (or even, cold old men) with accents pursuing me. I can only afford the beach when my better off friends take me along as a guest. I can’t afford men with accents ever at all. And even my better off friends can’t hop a plane to Mallorca for a few weeks or spend a hundred thousand dollars on dietary supplements. I know. It’s a novel. And it’s a summer novel, written for escapism. Okay. I guess, for me, if I’m going to escape, I would rather not have it be with the one percent, and if it is with the one percent I want them to suffer more, and, it would be nice if it turned out that not every man was — to one degree or another — a pig. (And that’s NOT just about the book.)

Yet, despite all that, it was a fast read, well constructed, not the least bit taxing, but, for me, the aftertaste was … unpleasant.

 

READING: “SHOTGUN LOVESONGS” by Nickolas Butler

Click on book-pic for publisher's book site

Click on book-pic for publisher’s book site

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Full disclosure: I’ve an unreasonable, irrational and slightly preposterous grudge against those authors who’ve attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and those writers whose debut novels are the subject of bidding wars and sold to filmmakers, and those authors who are published by particular imprints, one of which is St Martin’s Press — even though I know it is now a subsidiary of one of the five publishing behemoths and means virtually nothing — still, these things incur in me enmity, resentment, even, I am ashamed to admit, malice and rancor. So, it is the bad luck (or good fortune) of Nickolas Butler that he falls into all of the above categories.

Shotgun Lovesongs is Mr. Butler’s debut novel, begun during his study at the Iowa Workshop, published by St. Martin’s (otherwise known as Macmillan Publishers) and — dammit to hell — it’s awfully good.

You ought really to go HERE to Mr. Butler’s very own website, where there are links to reviews about the book and author profiles.

This debut novel is an orgy of bildungsroman about a group of friends fated to tight-knittedness by the nature of small-town American life. The novel has been heralded as a throwback love-story absent the snarky irony of so much modern lit, and, it’s true,  Lovesongs – on its surface – limns an unadorned tale of the various trajectories and machinations of this group of friends as they head for a the pile-up-slam-demolition derby of early-middle-life wondering and wandering that results in the question, “How much choice did I really have in this me I have become?”

Be warned, this wandering and wondering is the tale of America, abstracted using the town of Little Wing as microcosm. Too, Little Wing’s large, looming, never much used, long neglected and now, nearly disastrously restored mill, a town guarding sentinel which characters frequently ascend, gazing over the town whilst thinking and conversing deeply about “life” or, to consider hurtling themselves to the ground, serves as symbolic center for the decline and fall and shoring up of a world meant to be portrayed as worth keeping, worth living in, worth returning to, worth staying for.

I’m not so sure of that premise.

Told by a quintet of first person narrators, this is a love story; not so much between two people — though there are elements of romance — but, rather, one of those love stories that occur between groups of dear, long friends who survive the ups, downs, nearnesses, distances, changes, petty and not so petty grievances and betrayals, and manage to discover that they are forever joined, forever bound, a soul family.

Having lived long enough, one learns that becoming family — truly accepting the foreverness of such a bond — comes only with the accumulation of courage enough to accept what is. There is a great deal in this novel about forgiveness, the journey there, but forgiving is only the first step in becoming one with another (or others) — forgiveness still implies judgment, whereas real acceptance is born of a unity beyond judging, it is a matter of being able to live with the “all that is” of those others, and knowing they will reciprocate.

These people come together and go their separate ways and re-unite and stay and leave and love and cheat and disappoint and betray and apologize and literally take a bullet and suffer brain damage and near freeze to death for their troubles, they are rich and poor and talented and not-so-much and famous and unknown and — the gamut of a particular white-hetero-privileged world that is spending a lot of time nowadays wondering why it isn’t all it was cracked up to be, not quite what they were promised.

But, still and all the while, Little Wing remains at the center of who they are. Dammit. Yes, it does. Forgive me my snarky irony. I really did like this book. Mr. Butler really is a gifted prose stylist. But, the central conflict between three of its characters struck me as a soapy sort of conceit. I can’t get all excited over who had sex with whom and who told whom in the sort of bro-code way that causes relationship implosion in the last half of this novel. I get the whole “it was a betrayal not to tell me even though it wasn’t technically cheating” thing — but, I think it’s an idiotic, demeaning patriarchal throwback a opposed to justification for behavior so — when late in the story a man with a gun showed up — I was hoping he’d have better aim.

Then again, Mr. Butler went to Iowa Workshop and sold the movie rights and is all the rage. And I’m on top of a mill of my own thinking about jumping . . . so, read the book. Decide for yourself.

…reading … Barbara Vine’s “The Child’s Child”

Though I cannot remember what nor when, I feel sure that along the way I have read the work of Ruth Rendell. I am a great fan of mysteries, procedurals, and cozies, particularly those taking place in Britain. I don’t, however, know that “The Child’s Child” falls into any of those categories.

The Child's ChildA novel within a novel, meant, I think, as some sort of social commentary, I found the behavior of its characters perplexing. While the juxtaposition of social mores from the early 20th century versus modern-day is interesting, the plotting seemed contrived unto tortured in order to make points I’m not sure need making. The mirroring of children born out-of-wedlock and the brother/sister and distant mother stories, well, none of them really sang or spoke to me – and if ever there was a person for whom brother and sister conflict ought ring, it’s me.

That said, I read it in a day. It’s fast, although the novel within the novel goes on too long (for me) and I felt the ending of the modern story too neatly, quickly and rather unbelievably tied up. After having invested so much time in the characters in the past – who came in the middle and lasted nearly to the end – I felt denied closure with the characters from the present, as if they’d been rushed out the door.

Still, nicely written, oddly plotted, poorly motivated behavior, and too many ideas left without enough exploration. Fun, but trying too hard, like the clever fellow at the party who might have a way with a story if he just didn’t go on so.

(As I’ve said, I read because I love to read. I have no dog in this race. I am not sent reviewer copies nor does anyone pay me to offer my opinion. I bought “The Child’s Child” and read it on Kindle after downloading the free preview which I found intriguing. You know what they say … get them in the first three pages … well, she did.)

 

 

… book talk … “The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon

Bone SeasonI have been reviewing artworks of one or another type for quite a while, and when I first began being remunerated, I explained that I could not “trash” things because I had spent many years on the other side, where I poured my heart and soul and finances into “art” only to suffer shallow, idiotic, ill-informed personal prejudice vituperated by those who had somehow come to be called “reviewers” – and I was determined to offer only educated, informed and informing points of view, even when I disliked something. It was my goal to ALWAYS remember that whoever had made that something I didn’t enjoy had done so with love and good intentions.

So – it pains me NOT to like something and then write about it. But – well – wait – FIRST –

Full disclosure: I only read the first four “Harry Potter” books. I despised and could not finish “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” fantasies. I found Philip Pullman‘s “His Dark Materials” trilogy interesting for its undercurrent of dark despair, so those managed to almost hold my interest almost to the end;  a predictable turn of events since, even as a child, I was not a C.S.Lewis “Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” fan, but, rather, a devotee of the implicit threat in each breath taken in the worlds built by Roald Dahl, where love was almost always a deceitful pose and true affection most often occurred among suckers and the downtrodden – who were all too often punished for their soft emotionalism.

My world view, then, (and now) is quite dystopian enough, thank you very much. I have grown weary of these Young Adult fantasy series in which a group of evil, untrustworthy, duplicitous and very powerful adult people ruthlessly control everything and everyone, often in secret with all sorts of devious spying and invisible disappearings and punishings of those who dare speak up. Uhm, HELLO? We live in a REALITY where 1% control 99% of the wealth and assets. We are spied on daily by our own government. People are detained in prison camps FOR YEARS without being charged. Those who dare to expose the illegalities of those in charge are tried and publicly pilloried and jailed for having done so. We send unmanned drones to kill people, and worry little (if at all) about the non-targets brought down in the process. And that’s just in America. Much of the rest of the world is even worse. WE ARE LIVING IN A REAL DYSTOPIA – I don’t need to read a book about a pretend one.

Her official book jacket photo.

Her official book jacket photo.

Further full disclosure: the author of “The Bone Season” is 30 years my junior; British, beautiful, and went to Oxford. These are ALL THINGS for which I – nearly every day of my life – long. I am irritated with her before I even open the cover of what has to be the most hyped book of 2013; a book which is ONLY THE FIRST in a contracted series of SEVEN. Yes, she was – what – 19 or 20 when she got this contract. Now, far be it from me to begrudge another human being their success, but, boy oh boy, I REALLY DO.

So, the things was, this book had to be really good or I was not going to like it. And, I’m sorry – but – I really thought it was not.

First of all, when the frontispiece quote by Charlotte Bronte (plus points, there) is followed by a chart of the “Seven Orders of Clairvoyance” which includes over 50 categories (so many minus points) you have almost already lost me. This is entirely too complicated in a world where every device I own and every place I go online requires of me a user name and a password. By which I mean, my mind is already over-burdened with trivia, effluvium, and useless detail – to ask me to keep more of it straight for a world I’ve yet to enter is, well – A LOT TO ASK. And did I mention the 10 page glossary at the back of the book? After the book ends at page 450. YES, that’s what I said – 450 pages for something to happen that I am pretty sure – were a series of seven books not planned – could have happened well shy of 200 pages.

Now look, I have already admitted that I’m bitter. Granted. But here she got a seven-book contract and gets to have a glossary full of words she’s – in essence – made up  – whilst I was REPEATEDLY told my vocabulary was too erudite and arcane and would force people to look things up. SO I SHOULD HAVE ADDED A GLOSSARY? A FLOW CHART? I mean – my book only had humans in it – no chart of categories required.

Oh this is getting ugly. I’m sorry. Here’s the thing: “The Bone Season” was decently plotted, but, derivative. This story has been told a thousand times before – as have most stories, so, no sin there. It is in the telling where we find beauty and interest and, for me, this telling felt formulaic and was neither exciting nor innovative. It was competent. Which is, in itself these days, a GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT. And if I wore a hat, I’d take it off to Ms. Shannon for having created this complicated world and having gotten this contract and having been translated into lord knows how many languages not to mention having made a huge movie deal BEFORE ONE WORD WAS EVEN PUBLISHED –

Now there – there’s a damn fantasy novel – how about you tell us how the hell you managed that? In particular with this rather pedestrian, not really that exciting, 450 pages of words and levels of society requiring charts and glossaries to follow? I’d be interested to see what actual young readers – as opposed to publicists and such – think of this book. I’m betting rather less than all the hype to which we’ve been subjected would have us believe. This isn’t the second coming of Potter kids; that’s never going to happen and I wish everyone would stop trying to publish it. Instead, why not look for the FIRST COMING of something unique, original of voice, and brilliant in its own right?

 

…zeit bites…my pop culture rants & raves…

A ZeitBite-sized PopCulture round-up: Justin Bieber’s non-disclosure contract, the book based on him (sort of) LOVE SONG OF JONNY VALENTINE, a grown teen-idol, Leonardo DiCaprio in THE GREAT GATSBY, season finales from BATES MOTEL to DANCING WITH THE STARS, and my new lover is a KINDLE-FIRE!

This week I’ve been catapulted to the low end of my dysthymic emotional scale, resulting in a temporary withdraw from social media, Facebook in particular, where I was seeing too many posts that shouldn’t have upset me the way they did – always a sign to take a break from the relentlessness of all that information. So, I’ve been catching up on pop-culture while Continue reading