Five on Friday

1. I am in love with this jewelry. So fun and whimsical.

2. Elizabeth Gilbert picks a bone with Phillip Roth here.

3. Sometimes you just need a pep talk.

4. An interview with Karen E. Bender. Thank you to Dylan Landis for sharing.

5. Steve Almond interviews Chris Castellani.

Books Read in January

photo-7

“How To Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran

So, I had assumed it was optional.

The first funny thing about this book is that my husband bought it for me for my birthday in July. Nobody ever buys me an actual book. Gift cards to a bookstore, yes, but a book? Not so much. Chances are I really own or have already read it. But he’d heard her on NPR , and was pretty sure I hadn’t read it. He was right. The second funny thing about this book is it is so damn funny. Laugh out loud funny. Laugh at the absurdity of life funny. Laugh so you don’t cry at the state of our world funny. Do you know Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess? Well, if you don’t then go here right now and go pick up her book. If you do, then Moran is the British Bloggess.  Dark, funny, sarcastic and brilliant.

Here. Read this:

Because we need to reclaim the word “feminism.” We need the word “feminism” back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminist—and only 42 percent of British women—I  used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of “liberation for women” is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? “Vogue” by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?

See? Funny? Smart? Passionate? What’s not to like?

What I learned: To not let misogynists like Rush Limbaugh, who calls feminists “femi-Nazis” because he is oh-so-clever, take away our power.

 “Adaptation” a YA novel by Malinda Lo

The birds plummeted to the tarmac, wings loose and limp.

Yes, yet another dystopian future kind of novel. What can I say? They fascinate me. This time the triggering event is the mass crashes of planes around the world caused by flocks of birds flying into them. Reese is at the airport, trying to get home from a debate competition with her partner and their coach when all panes are grounded. They rent a car and start the long drive through the desert back to San Francisco. When a bird flies straight at the car on a lonely stretch of desert highway, Reese flips the car. She wakes up in a hospital where everyone is very secretive about where they are and exactly what happened to them. So secretive, that they are forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being released. After she and David get home, they notice strange things around and within them. As they search for the truth they come across what could a vast global government conspiracy. This one sure keeps you turning the pages.

What I learned: She balanced an intricate idea-driven plot line with a more character-driven sub-plot.

“The Dog Stars” a novel by Peter Heller

I keep the Beast running, I keep the 100 low lead on tap, I foresee attacks.

Hig has survived the flu pandemic and the blood disease that followed. Society has broken down. His wife is dead as are his friends. He lives in the hangar at a small airport in Colorado with his dog Jasper and a gun-loving neighbor for company. He flies his 1956 Cessna for pleasure and to help a nearby village of Mennonites afflicted with the Blood disease stay alive. One day he hears a transmission on his radio and that brief contact haunts him for years until he is finally compelled to go beyond his flying boundaries and see if he can make contact with the voice. Hig’s own voice tells his story with the heart of warrior, survivor and poet. It reminded me of “The Road” with more heart and beauty.

What I learned: That I aspire to write a sentence as beautiful as this some day: How we gentle our losses into paler ghosts. 

Five on Friday

1. This is a great idea! I’ve had a similar idea for years that I called it my Self-guided MFA. But she takes it to a whole new incredible level that reaches so many people.

2. Such a great interview with Cheryl Strayed. Here’s just one of many lines I loved: “(email…)  is a real problem for me, a huge distraction not only from my writing, but from everything else I love to do, too. When it comes to getting to work, my trick is to conjure my inner-nun-with-a-ruler-in-hand and simply force myself to begin. Beginning is about three-quarters of the battle for me.”

3. Max Sebald’s Writing Tips. Such good advice like “Read books that have nothing to do with literature.”

4. Dani Shapiro on taking risks.

5. Free yoga video for writers.