Reading: 10 Days, 4 Novels, And A Depression Memoir

In this post I’ll be talking about DIFFERENT CLASS by Joanne Harris, HISTORY OF WOLVES by Emily Fridlund, PERFECT LITTLE WORLD by Kevin Wilson, INFINITE HOME by Kathleen Alcott, and THIS CLOSE TO HAPPY:A RECKONING WITH DEPRESSION by Daphne Merkin.

different-classDifferent Class, by Joanne Harris, hardcover, 416pp, Touchstone, April 2016

It’s an unenviable burden to be the book I read immediately after I’ve just finished a five-star-can-I-marry-a-novel-legally sort of experience; the kind of falling in love I did with Cara Hoffman’s Running. [You can read about it HERE.] So, to be fair to the writer, I try to go in an entirely different direction, most often heading into genre-land — though I am not so much a fan of categorizing writing — and I turn to writers who have successfully created worlds and milieus they revisit and further develop in series. Thus, having read an essay in which Joanne Harris was compared to Patricia Highsmith, I thought it high time (Oh dear, I didn’t mean to do that.) I sample her work. Too, I’ve a weakness for books about British schools and what goes on there, which, in concert with my fondness for murder/scandal procedurals made Different Class seem the ideal choice. And although it took me a while to adjust to its rhythms — which I attribute to detoxing from the genius of Running — I was Continue reading

ZeitBites Monday: Reads

charlie sweeney

Long ago Saturday Night Sondheim – when I was Sweeney

My life is lived to a score. Well, many scores. (See Saturday night’s post HERE SATURDAY NIGHT SONDHEIM –if you’ve any doubt, or, well, you know, care a whit?) Whether it was all my years of Broadway wanna-be/gonna-be-ism or a genetic predisposition that resulted in my translation of every moment of my life into musical theatre is a discussion for another time (and a therapist) but my point was — is — I wake up nearly every day of my life with a song in my head, sometimes, in fact, this morning, I am singing when I wake, and sometimes, in fact, this morning, the song I am singing does not exist in the real world. Today’s lyrics:

I told you YES. NO. Yes-terday. No-today. Yesterdays. Noterdays. Told-you-days.

It was sung to a catchy little tune, too. While I’ve a proclivity (or, wait, should I say predilection since choice is also involved? No, sticking with proclivity since the urge seems to Continue reading

Horror Stories … existential variety …

gif jessica langeI’m not quite as caught in the undertow as I was  in yesterday’s post “Homes, Housepets, Husbands, and Heartaches Not My Own; A How Not To Manual” [click it] but, warning, still not as perky as I might be. Trying. Really, I am.

First world existential issues: my internet connection here where I am house/pet sitting is iffy and odd and disconnects me frequently. Being frequently disconnected feels oddly, terrifyingly symbolic. I’ve been disconnecting myself – as it were – anyway, and other than yesterday’s blog, pretty much hiding out in my own weirdness. Too, one of the doggies here has wakened today – and did I mention they make me get up at 4:30-5:00 a.m. here? – with stomach issues. Gwennie didn’t eat her breakfast, has chewed a lot of grass, shat on the rug, and has stomach-growling going on the volume of which challenges mine from a few weeks ago. I sympathize, Gwennie. She is on my lap, passing gas and gastro-gurgling as I type.

Life is hard right now. There is a lot of Continue reading

READING: Books are my religion . . .a lesson from Ann Patchett

A LONG INTRODUCTION . . .

Charlie Smith 3

I am inserting this picture, taken the day AFTER I posed with Ann Patchett, because in THAT photo I look HUGE and AWFUL — and so, I wanted to prove I am still a hipster cat-burglar who gyms it up 6 days a week.

Apologies (and thanks) to those asking if I’m okay and why my entries have been so infrequent. I’m immersed (not to say, drowning) in yet another edit of “LIBERTYTOWN” and, too, a couple of other writing projects which came banging at the doors of my brain/heart/soul, even as I hid away, weeping, whispering, “There’s no one home!” Somehow, the stories and words inside me, or, floating around me, or, something, will not let me do what I’ve been trying to do, which is to surrender to the fact that in the same way I was not a Broadway star, not the first American Pope, not someone who was ever going to be successfully in a love relationship, not someone with an actual income and home of his own, I was also NOT A WRITER. Which, is an overly long (SURPRISE!) way of saying, “I’M TRYING TO WRITE AND I CAN’T BLOG WHILE I’M DOING THAT!” I spent hours yesterday trying to finish ONE SENTENCE, and I never really did – it is slow going, my dears. In the meantime, I am reading. And, since this is sort-of, sometimes, supposed to be a Book(ish?) Blog – thought, “Ok, I’ll catch up with that!” So, here I am, going.

CATCHING (YOU) UP ON MY READING . . .

Ann Pachett and Charlie

This is Ann Patchett after I told her I stalked another writer, and still, she bravely posed with me. She is a wonderful, lovely person – radiates warmth, wit, intelligence, and a glowing goodness.

Monday, March 23, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ann Patchett. She was the featured speaker at Frederick Reads, and not only was she smart, charming, funny, brilliant, engaging, and fun, she gave book recommendations and said (far more eloquently) “Books are my religion.” Mine too. In the days since, procrastinating while I ought to have been editing, I ventured to her Parnassus Books site [click here], and from there, her blog [click here], and in doing so realized I’d not spoken about what I’ve been reading since January when Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You [click here], rocked me. I am still talking about it, talked about it and wrote down the title for Ann Patchett even. But, I have read 23 books since then, and here, in brief, we go, highlights only.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LAST 23 BOOKS

M.C. BEATON’s AGATHA RAISIN SERIES

I am a huge fan of the Agatha Raisin mystery series, written by M.C. Beaton and edited by Hope Dellon of St. Martin’s Press. I read #6: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist; #7: Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death; #8: Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham; and #9; Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden. Every visit with Agatha is like 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].

 

My Year in Reading, Sort of: 2014 Highlights

reading falneur

(HOLY HOLY HOLY — UPON PUSHING THE “PUBLISH” BUTTON, I WAS INFORMED THIS IS MY 700TH POST ON THIS BLOG?!?! SOMETHING ABOUT THAT STRIKES ME AS … STRUCK. LOL)

Reading is my passion.

I’ve found great comfort and solace in reading. Reading took me to worlds I longed to visit but could not otherwise reach. Reading educated me. Reading saved me by making me aware of  possibilities and lives and loves I could never have imagined on my own. Reading gave me New York, the Algonquin Round Table, the Bridesheads, Jane and Paul Bowles, Helene Hanff, gay men, Fran Lebowitz, Andy Warhol and Studio 54, the Beats, the Bloomsbury Group, the Violet Quill bunch, and, holy of holy, as is Stephen Sondheim to my musical theatre jones, so is Joan Didion to my reading addiction. I actually think that without Joan Didion — and all the others — I would have killed myself long ago. Truly, I think it is reading that has kept me alive.

I’m not sure how much a favor to me that has been but that is another blog.

BooksReading has been my escape. Reading has been my constant lover and friend, my companion through my entire life. My memory may be going but I can still tell you where I was, approximately how old I was, and what was going on in my life when first I read HARRIET, THE SPY and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE and Proust — okay, I’ve never actually finished Proust — but I can tell you all the times I bought new translations, new versions, why I did so, and what they looked like. I have in storage not one, but TWO CARTONS of versions of Proust and books about Proust. And I can tell you that I first read Joan Didion in Saturday Evening Post magazines I stacked and date ordered in one of the rooms in the abandoned wing of Libertytown, that room with the blackboard still on the wall left over from when the house had been an academy for wayward boys, that room I — the most wayward and lonely of boys — had Continue reading

ZeitBites: Labor Day 2014: TAKING MY SPACE, DAMMIT!

duchess goldblatt

Her Grace, Duchess Goldblatt

Charlie and Elizabeth McCracken 2

Elizabeth McCracken and some stalker

First things first, it is the birthday month of Her Grace, Duchess Goldblatt and as Elizabeth McCracken said in her morning Tweet: “Comport yourselves appropriately.” Speaking of which (whom?) another person of paramount import, whose very presence in the ether makes the ether worth ethering, Elizabeth McCracken her own self is celebrating a birthday month too! As the cool kids say (I’ve been eavesdropping on them at their table, way across the imaginary/virtual world-library in which I live) “I know, right?” I mean, if one is – like so many are – a subject of Her Grace and a McCracken-head, this month is ALMOST too much to bear.

However, I am bearing – and bearing up – because Her Grace said to me, just last night:

I really need you to see the good in yourself that your aunt saw and I see.

And:

Claim your space. Fuck it, Charlie. You deserve to take up space. Don’t make me come to life. You know I have a headache.

So, yes. There. Fuck it, Charlie, INDEED! The very LAST thing I want is for anyone to have to come to life. I know I avoid it with much the same vigor I avoided the unattractive fellow who was lurking in the sauna and showers at the gym yesterday, cock-blocking those of us who had different sorts of work-outs in mind after earlier exertions.

Speaking of unattractive fellows, get this:

Idiot

Ignorance speaks for itself. Unfortunately often and at intense volume. One would think he’d be hoarse by now with all the ridiculous ranting. Then again, I’ve been raging and ranting since puberty hit and I seem only to get louder. So, there it is. Here we are, going.

As in, no, really, I HAVE to go. Tomorrow is release date for David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (read James Woods’ review in The New Yorker, HEREand there are 20 plus books I promised myself I would finish reading (or, in some cases, re-reading) BEFORE The Bone Clocks (not going to happen) but I’m hitting the stacks today with renewed determination.

Books August 2014

Right after I go to the gym and see if I can find that young really hot Latin guy who wanted to fool around but we were blocked by stalker-guy do my daily two hours on the cardio equipment in training for my too-quickly approaching Ride to Conquer Cancer. Actually, I haven’t raised the requisite $2500, so they probably aren’t going to let me ride anyway –

gym guys 3 EDIT– but you know what? The money I raised is raised, so HOORAY, and, being told I’m NOT allowed to ride 75 miles a day for two days – worse things have happened. And, way better things – FOR EXAMPLE – Today, this morning, when I weighed myself, I weighed less than I have in two and a half years – and this is another good thing. And, it seems, attractive to Latin boys in locker rooms.

Win. Win. Thanks, Duchess!

 

READING: “The Hundred Year House” by Rebecca Makkai

The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai, Viking, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0525-42668-4

hundred year houseThat Laurelfield, a house, was the title character of Rebecca Makkai’s second novel – a tale which I had read described variously as a ghost story, a gothic, reminiscent of I Capture the Castle –  was what hooked me. I am an old house person who grew up in a crumbling estate by which I am still haunted, obsessed by the history and secrets and lies and seductions of its many rooms and the disappeared and lost branches of family who once there populated.

Ms. Makkai’s book – while full of cleverly composed prose and mordant character insight – is not, however, a ghost story or gothic, and neither does the title residence play as much of a role as an old house fanatic (and you either are one or you’re not; I have repeatedly chosen to live in crumbling, poorly plumbed, leaky roofed, barely heated, disintegrating homes over newer constructed, dry-walled boxes without history) would like.

This is not criticism, but an alert. I went into the novel expecting from reviews that it would be something else, and that it was not that, disappointed me and was a hurdle I had to overcome to enjoy the many qualities it did have. First, the precis from Ms. Makkai’s website:

A haunted family and a haunted house… in reverse.

When Doug’s mother-in-law offers up the coach house at Laurelfield, her hundred-year-old estate north of Chicago, Doug and his wife Zee accept. Doug is fascinated by the house’s previous life as an artists’ colony, and hopes to find something archival there about the poet Edwin Parfitt, who was in residence at Laurelfield in the twenties (and whose work happens to be Doug’s area of scholarship). When he learns that there are file cabinets full of colony materials in the attic, Doug is anxious to get to work and save his career—but his mother-in-law refuses him access. With help from friends, Doug finally does access the Parfitt file—only to find far stranger and more disturbing material than he bargained for.

Doug may never learn all the house’s secrets, but the reader does, as the narrative zips back in time from 1999 to 1955 and 1929. We see the autumn right after the colony’s demise, when its newlywed owners are more at the mercy of the place’s lingering staff than they could imagine; and we see it as a bustling artists’ community fighting for survival in the last, heady days of the 1920s.

Through it all, the residents of Laurelfield are both plagued and blessed by the strange legacy of Laurelfield’s original owners: extraordinary luck, whether good or bad.

Ms. Makkai is stunningly adept as literary constructionist, tricking out her multi-generational odyssey with enough mystery, romance, intrigue, and machinations of characters who are richly multi-layered (and sometimes with multiple identities) to keep the reader fascinated, hurtling backward through time to the beginnings of Laurelfield. Along the way the reader is treated with sometimes breathtakingly penetrating insights into humanity. For example, this from the first section:

As she sped to town she developed the leaden sensation, though, that she hadn’t just been right in her fears, but had actually caused something, yet again, to happen. That she’d willed this into being as surely as she’d brought about Cole’s implicit confessions. She was getting everything she wanted, but also – like in a nightmare, where you’re the author and also the victim – she was getting everything she feared: Miriam’s crush, Doug’s ineptitude, even the appearance of that stupid dress. She thought, “I need to be careful what I fear next.” And then she thought: “What I fear next is madness. What I fear next is madness. What I fear next is madness.”

Or, this from a later (thus, earlier) section:

Grace felt Amy’s pain in her own stomach, she did. It was a convulsion, like holding back a sob. But all she could think to do was make it worse, as if that would solve everything. She imagined this was how a killer felt, halfway through the job. Finish stabbing the fellow, so there was no one left to feel it. She said, “Here’s what you don’t know yet: So often in life, you get exactly what you look for. If you want a George, you’ll get a George. The worst thing I could wish for you is everything you want.”

These passages are both beautiful. Read them aloud. Their rhythm alone is stunning, aside from the ways in which they echo one another, just a small part of the ways in which those who populate the house make one after another discovery while making art, while making love, while making life inside its walls, all the while searching for the perfect image for their mosaics, their poem, their reality.

Ms. Makkai’s writing is witty, darkly so, and she makes the difficult perspective changes and juggling of unreliable narrators and many emotional streams, echoes, and reflections seem effortless. She masters metaphor and symbolism and … well … this is a book writers and lovers of literature’s intricacies will find full of treasures. Like Doug in the narrative, one will want to break into its attic, discover its secrets.

My small and curmudgeonly, peckish old-reader cavil; for me (and like I said, I’m a grouch who lusts after old homes and the gothic) when it was all over, I was less drawn in by the emotion and the story than I was admiring of the authorial acumen and technical maneuvering – and I salute her gifts – but I would have like less machination and more heart.

I purchased Rebecca Makkai’s The Hundred Year House at my local, independent bookstore, The Curious Iguana [CLICK HERE], which is not just a bookstore, but, a community where I am welcomed, known, and appreciated. Get to know your local bookseller – or MINE!

 

READING: A Few Books Along the Way . . .

I’m supposed to be book blogging . . . as in writing regularly about the books I read, growing my base, establishing my platform and expanding my followers list so that, at some point, when some literary agent has considered my manuscript and is weighing the “yes or no” she will be impressed by this erudite blog and its massive list of lovers.

Well, okay. The thing is, since I finished The Swan Gondola, (CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE SWAN GONDOLA) everything else – how do I put this – hasn’t been The Swan Gondola.

I hasten to add that this is my issue and NOT the issue of the books I have since read. Which is why I have not been writing about them. It’s not them, it’s me. I have always been like this. Not just with books; I’ve missed so much of life because I was fixated on what was, or might have been, or what I wished had been. For example, I was in love once, and it was far from perfect and he was not even particularly nice, or kind, or, even, respectful, but, he was who I loved and for years it went on, even though it wasn’t really working and even though he was married and even though I was an after-thought and secreted away and infrequent and mostly waiting, and never allowed to speak about it and then he died, and STILL, I gave up on the possibility of everyone else because everyone else was not ever going to be him. And then, lately, by complete and total accident, entirely without meaning to and completely by surprise, someone managed to break through these walls I thought were so impenetrable. And then, he left. He didn’t mean to break in, he didn’t want to be there, I always knew he would be going, and so, I shouldn’t be feeling this way I am feeling today.

But, I’ve always been this way. And I need to do something about it. So, every book is not going to be The Swan Gondola and I can’t just give up being alive again because yet another trailer has been hooked to the back of another black Jeep and headed out of town to a life I always knew was waiting for him.

So, what have I been reading while being slowly dissolved and left. Again. Since The Swan Gondola and John Doe had their way with me and went their merry ways?

Still LifeSTILL LIFE WITH BREADCRUMBS by Anna Quindlen

I’ve read other novels by Anna Quindlen and she is a gifted teller of tales, no doubt. She knows how to move a story and limn details that echo in the places inside you where you say, “Oh, yes, that. I have felt that.” This was no different. However, and again – it may well be just that this is where I am in my life right now – I do NOT think that many sixty year olds, divorced, having been dumped by someone, find themselves being wooed and falling for a forty-something, gorgeous man. Just doesn’t happen. A forty-something, gorgeous, smart man is NOT hitting on a sixty year old. JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN. And furthermore, Quindlen’s main character was worrying throughout about money when she owned a Manhattan apartment and was spending months in a sublet, rustic cabin in the woods. Okay. Come on. And magically, not only did she fall in love again, but her photography career was revived and money started to flow and . . . well, whatever. This was marketed as a novel, not science fiction or romance/fantasy or, what I called it as I finished it (in my basement hovel, dodging bill collectors and taxmen, not quite appreciating all Quindlen’s facile romantic/financial/spiritual happy endings) and threw it across the room: BULLSHIT!

shock waveSHOCK WAVE by John Sandford

I needed something to cleanse my literary palate, and so I picked up a book by the reliable John Sandford. It’s the fifth in his Virgil Flowers series and it is fast and formulaic and has nothing at all to do with real life or any life at all with which I am now, ever have been, or ever will be familiar and because of that, I love it. It is what it is and it’s honest about that.

burnable bookA BURNABLE BOOK by Bruce Holsinger

A historical novel set in the 1380’s, time of Chaucer, this was given me by a friend. I’m not a huge fan of historical novels – though I did like Wolf Hall – because there are usually – as here – too many names and people to keep tallied and clear. In this book, there was a great deal of intrigue as well, and so my inability to clearly recall who was who and what was what took away from the surprise when a back – or a heart – was stabbed. I never felt invested in any of the characters, not really, and so, it was okay but not something I’d recommend. And it was about 150 pages longer than it needed to be.

sweetness at bottomTHE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE by Alan Bradley

I couldn’t help but love an author who didn’t publish his first book until well into his – LATER – decades. Gives a man hope. And this first in the series about eleven year old detective Flavia de Luce is sort of glorious. Much fun. Much literary heft. Many laughs. Much joy. I’m saving the delight of reading the others for when I need a boost – hey – I need a boost right now. Alas, my “to read” pile is already too huge.

So, there it is. What I’ve been reading since being left by The Swan Gondola. I did also read Edmund White’s latest memoir, but I’ll have to write about that separately. Later. I’m too busy missing John Doe and wondering how this happened again to write anything very deep and personal at the moment, and my reaction to White’s Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, is too close to the bone and heart that has lately been broken again. So, like I said, LATER. Who knows, maybe in the meantime some smart, gorgeous 40-something man will fall for me.

Right.

Oh dear, it’s SUPER-READ weekend … so why did I get a FOOTBALL and not Timothy Schaffert’s “The Swan Gondola”?

So. Friday. I don’t know how this happened but I actually have weekend plans. What? Me? I know. Last weekend I did what I do best; hardly left the house. Hell, I hardly left my COUCH except to get more fluids and void those fluids. My SOLE activity other than absolutely necessary bodily functions was READING.

On the advice of a dear friend who wants me to be more engaged in the world – or, rather, wants the world to be more engaged with me – I have started “reviewing” the books I read. Here’s the thing, much like it was when I was reviewing theatre, I have such intense respect for artists who devote themselves to sharing Light and Truth, that even when I dislike something, there is NO WAY I am going to attack or belittle that which is made from someone’s soul, sweat and heart. Unless they REALLY piss me off with lazy, stupid, intentionally ignorant bullshit.

Schaffert, Swan GondolaSo, I try to read only those things I have a good idea I am going to like. And so I am eagerly anticipating the release date of Timothy Schaffert’s The Swan Gondola. I loved his Coffins of Little Hope. LOVED. Even though I was very, very, very, very poor at the time, I bought it – NOT ONLY FOR ME – and then leant my copy around, but I also bought it as a gift for TWO OTHER PEOPLE. So, there. Thus, imagine my CHAGRIN when I start seeing in  my Twitter feed all these pre-release reviews by so-called “book bloggers” for The Swan Gondola.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK (as my young friends say)?!?! I, myself, find waiting for me when I get home a “promotional football” (READ HERE ABOUT THAT) for some reason and from somewhere STILL a mystery – and other people are receiving advance reading copies of GOOD BOOKS by WRITERS I ADMIRE?!?!?!

Stop it, Universe.  Bad enough I can’t get my own Literary Agent and have to work SO HARD to remain this perky, positive, forward thinking fellow who hides in his basement slaving away at other people’s blogs and ad copy; and worse, that other “book bloggers” are getting free books; but the FINAL STRAW IS THIS DAMN FOOTBALL.

Jeesh. There better be a good looking really affectionate young guy coming my way SOON.