A lit major at a New England school has a complicated romantic friendship something or other with a religious studies student she’s known since first year. She struggles with her thesis under the tutelage of an old school professor, while wanting to try out the new critical theories, he becomes a superstar in the department and seriously considers divinity school. After graduation, they travel (literally and figuratively) on separate paths.
Is it the story of my time as a senior and the year that followed? I mean, it could be. Minus the whole bipolar thing, the fact that it’s set in the 80s and at an ivy, oh and the unrequited part. Nope, it’s the crux of the latest novel by Eugenides.
Now, let me be clear: Middlesex this is not. The story doesn’t move in the same way the other book did. And the characters aren’t—to me—as empathetic or really like-able as Callie/Cal and the Greek lot. (Total aside: I felt the same about Freedom), but I still couldn’t put it down during pajamaweek (yes, all one word and my invention! It is the week between Christmas and New Years when you do nothing on your to do list, and nothing on your cultural list, nothing on your social calendar and nothing on your blog, because all you do is sit around in pjs reading and catching up on important things like Downton). The first section, although in many places, quite belaboured—we get it, Jeffrey, you went to Brown, you know the campus soooo well—was fascinating for its look at the notion of semiotics as a new concept. Although I’ll admit I wish there had been more Focoult involved in the classroom discussion scenes, I was enthralled with the break-down of language and codes. I recalled my days of S/Z readings and wish I had devoured Barthes with as much sick obsession as the heroine.
Basically, I love it when a book makes me feel smart. And this one, although flawed (yeah, that last section kind of fell flat for me) reminded me that I am capable of thinking and writing about more than honeymoon destinations, makeup trends and material things I wish I had the cashish to buy.
- 16th January
- 4th January
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5 Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, 10 And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. 15 I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Maybe it is the New England in me, but I have a mayjah soft spot for old uncle Robert Frost. Normally, I’m not big on the poets. I mean I appreciate a good stanza and all, but I’m more of a novel girl. But Uncle Rob and his pal William Carlos Williams are the only two that get me “all imagery is amazing and I wow, I’m really digging this pentameter” dorkified. Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening was the first poem I ever memorized, but given the cold, I’m wandering down a road less traveled-in remote Thailand today…
- 6th December
I may be cannibalizing my own content at the day job when I sing the praises of the outrageously awesome Bon Voyage by Jetsetter. But I appreciate the entire package so much, that I’ve just got to hit every social media outlet at my fingertips to talk about it. First, there is the coffee table book part Bon Voyage, which is curated (don’t you just hate that word?) by one of the editors at Jetsetter. The images are spectacular. And it makes me—a professional traveler—wish I was on the road right this second. The planning portion is also Aplus. Anyone who knows me in real life, not virtual, knows that I’m always amped on notebooks and old fashion stationary (don’t worry dearest iPad, I still adore you), so I love the lined journal book with reporter-esque location headers and a map on the outside. As an extra bonus, when you purchase the enormous set Jetsetter (a travel flash site that also has real people on the phone to help you plan your perfect getaway) gives the recipient of the tome (another ickers word, but totally appropriate) a planning session complimentary. Yeah, it really is the ultimate gift for the armchair or actual traveler in your life….hint, hint.
- 5th December
For years whenever I wore my glasses people told me I looked just like you. (Well, either you or Ashley Banfield.) And because of it (and your total kickass smartness), I’ve always felt a special kinship with you. On more than one occasion, I’ve considered writing you a “want to meet for coffee and tell me about your career” type email that I’ve been known to do to editors and writers that I admire, but I always figure you’d be a little too biz to deal with me. Well, that, and I really am on the fence about being a comedy writer. I mean think it looks like fun, but I’m not so sure about that whole boys peeing in cups thing or you know,having to write a spec script after a decade of producing ill-fated and never-going anywhere edit tests.
But after ready Bossy Pants, I’m inspired to be your mentee more than ever. I admired your voice, your experience and your ability to talk about your feminism in a hilarious and totally relateable tone. (On a side note, the Kitchen Sister’s NPR the Secret Lives of Girls piece was out of the park enjoyable.) I also discovered that apart from the Emmy nods, famous friends and two kids on the Upper West Side, we are essentially the same person. OK, you are a few years older and a lot skinnier, but we have so much in common, I’m sure that you’ll want to meet for coffee.
1. We both did summer theater and hung out with a load of older kids that were way in touch with their sexuality.
2. We both have first-generation Mediterranean mothers and giant dads who have some German in their blood.
3. Both of our Mediterranean mothers banned shaving at 10, even though because of their heritage we wicked needed it.
4. I truly believe a manicure is a must.
5. People would ask me a lot if I could see Russia from my house.
6. Neither of us drive.
7. We are both meh on dogs.
8. I was forced to eat that rum-soaked fruit cake at my birthday parties after my parents ‘had made it.”
So, how do you take your coffee? I can bring it up to 30 Rock whenever is convenient for you.
The little sister you never had, Jenna
- 6th August
- 4th August
A house without books is like a room without windowsHorace Mann
- 13th June
Don’t tell the bosses, but I’ve swapped out my mag diet for novels. I’ve been eating up books in a way that I haven’t since I challenged myself to read every single Nancy Drew mystery, Hard Boys book and Bobbsey Twins adventure in one sixth grade semester. Since I now find myself at a loss for the next meal, I’ve been using this What Should I Read Next site. It gives right on advice and includes the classics, which is big in my, ahem, book.