Reading, Topics and Shiny Stuff

October 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

I’ve been sucking at posting here lately – and so, instead of continuing to suck, I’ve decided to veer off my blog topic slightly. A while back, when checking out Alana Taylor‘s (cutie of the Twitter song) blog, I saw her blog’s subtitle (“Tech – Entertainment – Life”) I thought… yeah, life, that would be good to post about.

So for now (until I get distracted by something really, really shiny) let’s assume this blog is subtitled “Social Media – and Life”. I figure that will keep me covered for all the general stuff. I promise, I’ll try to keep it interesting and not nauseatingly personal.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on my book, and have been reading a ton of memoirs (please feel free to recommend any funny ones I haven’t read in the comment section).  I had been reticent to read Sloane Crosley‘s “I Was Told They’re Be Cake” because of some of the reviews on Amazon.com, several of which mentioned “Oh, great, another privileged gal talking about her life”.  (As I recall, the same criticisms were present in a few of the reviews for Sara Barron’s “People Are Unappealing (Even Me)“.)

This is an interesting prejudice and reminds me of something my mother said recently “I really like this woman. But I didn’t want to meet her for a long time because she was rich.” ‘Kay… This is one of the fascinating things that would seem horrid if said for the reverse (“Didn’t want to meet that dude, ’cause he’s poor – and you know, I didn’t know what we’d have in common”.)  Isn’t part of point of reading (or watching a film) about learning about another person’s experiences?…

Side rant: In a similar vein, it has always frustrated me that film with female lead(s) often get referred to as “chick films”  since most every film has male leads and they are rarely assumed to be solely for men. Sure, a romantic comedy (e.g. the abysmal 27 Dresses) can be considered “only for women”, because it’s fair enough to assume that the target is mostly women. (And the less I say about that genre, and its profoundly unrealistic scenarios/conundrums and forced-quirky characters, the better.) But a film like “Thelma and Louise” (or “Blue Steel” for that matter) is most certainly not a “chick flick”.

…Even if you feel they might have been “luckier” in certain aspects than you?  It surprised me that there were so many people who dismissed the book’s premise outright because the author’s life was OK. What are we looking for here? Is only someone with a severely dysfunctional childhood qualified to write their story? The truth is we are all kind of messed up in our own way – and I enjoy reading and watching another’s experiences – provided there’s a point.  In this case the book was interesting, well-written, not self-pitying and amusing.  All things I seek and am impressed by.

Sara Barron's Book

I liked Sara Barron‘s book even more – and here I will contradict myself – because it was very relatable.  It touched on so many of my experiences dating, in acting class etc.  And the way she wrote was so hilarious, self-aware and self-effacing without going into self-hatred or being too cutesy.  In fact, I liked it so much, I even wrote her to tell her that.  Now, we Social Media-loving people always mention how important it is to connect with your customer – and for artists how essential it is to have contact with your audience.  I was impressed because Sara Barron wrote me back the next day, to thank me, with a very genuine email.  She also mentioned that she was writing her second book and that if I had the time, and wouldn’t mind writing a review on Amazon.com, that would be great because it’s one of the things that a publisher takes into account when considering a writer.  I did not know that.  I was (painfully) aware of how the reviews influenced me, but wasn’t aware that they played any significant role in publishing.   So, public service message: If you like an author, review them.  It helps. (Apparently so does tagging the books with keywords you feel appropriate, as I learned at BookCamp.)

For the sake of completeness, here are the books I’ve read lately.  I’ve given them grades (yes, that’s obnoxious of me) but a simple 1-5 or 1-10 rating doesn’t convey much.

People Are Unappealing (Even Me)”  by Sara Barron: 98% (I just loved this one.  My Amazon review of it is here.)

“I Was Told They’re Be Cake” by Sloane Crosley: 94% (Honest, quirky, self-aware and charming. And quite funny.)

Microthrills: True Stories from a Life of Small Highs” by Wendy Spero: 68% (Sweet, in its own way, but a little too cutesy for me.)

My Horizontal Life” by Chelsea Handler: 60% (This one rubbed me the wrong way. I thought the writer was way too in love with the negative aspects of her personality and thought she was just adorable.  I disagreed.  At the same time the writing was good, it was a decent airplane read, I wasn’t bored throughout.  I just felt kind of empty and dissatisfied after reading it.)

Me Talk Pretty One Day” (99%) & “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” (96%) & “Naked” (92%) by David Sedaris (Can’t say enough good things about him.  Funny, touching, smart, brilliantly written.  He manages to convey difficult experiences without any self-pity and his writing is completely absorbing.  Note: I liked his other books too, but think these are virtually flawless.)

Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems” by David Rakoff: 83% (Great style, brilliant writing and bitingly funny. That said, the first essay (about immigrating to the US) was excellent, and there were a few other ones that were very good.  But I can’t say the book grabbed me in its entirety. But, yes, still, a good read, overall.)

Why I’m Like This: True Stories” by Cynthia Kaplan: 81%  (Charming and well-written.  Also funny and touching.)

Happy Birthday or Whatever: Track Suits, Kim Chee, and Other Family Disasters by Annie Choi (Very well-written, honest and funny and sometimes painful  – especially her family encounters – both in the experience and how they continue to affect her.) 84%

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl ” by Laurie Notaro:  86% (Very funny.  Very enjoyable.  I like Notaro’s breezy writing style and some of her tales are hilarious.  I have read all of her non-fiction books too, and although there were other good tales in the others, I thought this one was pretty much funny all around.  Given that it’s her latest, I think that’s inspiring.)

Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace: 90% (Excellent.  Fascinating, educational and often funny.  The essay “Big Red Son” which centers around the AVN (porn) awards) was completely engrossing, enlightening, sometimes creepy, and very amusing.)

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Reference Letters re: My Talks Take Me To Your Interviewer

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