Archive for May, 2008

The Hellhound

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Last week, my roommate, who is a Very Good Dude, went out of town and left his dog with me. His dog, who is named Laika and is very cute and has a mouth not unlike a catfish, followed me around all week and was generally her good ol’ adorable self. All was well. We were snuggling every night and I was generally blissful being spooned by two darling, darling pit bulls. HOWEVER, on Friday, after I went to yoga, I stopped at the Co-op where I purchased what I believe to be the finest post-yoga snack in the land: dried mission figs. No better snack exists, not one. I should add here that Laika is both incredibly nosy and also perpetually hungry–to the point of self-destruction. No, seriously, she ate steel wool once. I don’t know why. She just did. ANYWAY, Laika sniffed out my figs, which I had foolishly left on the kitchen counter. Laika ate the figs, all 15ish of them, even the bag they came in. After calling the vet and freaking out and crying and canceling my plans and changing into my big ugly sweatpants for a big exciting night of watching a dog repeatedly shit itself, I settled into the couch with some books.

That fateful night I read: Jeffrey Brown’s latest work, Little Things (about which I was lukewarm, as was the sort of very mean reviewer in The Stranger), Jeremy Tinder’s Cry Yourself To Sleep and Black Ghost Apple Factory (both which I highly recommend, because they adorable and I sort of have the biggest crush ever on Tinder, which is unrelated to his incredibly cute drawings but is still kind of important and worth noting, because maybe he googles himself and will find this and will then want to marry me), and additionally, I finished The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, about which my opinion did not change–it’s really quite good, and has the craziest plot twist EVER.

In good news, Laika is fine. So, yes, it turns out dogs CAN eat figs.

ALSO in the New Yorker this week there is a fantastic review of Paul Roberts’ new The End of Food which I am waiting for SO EAGERLY. The review also prompted me to check out Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, which I had previously been avoiding because it seemed oh-so-trendy. Also my mom liked it and if my mom likes something I secretly pray that I won’t like it because she also likes Paul Simon. Not good.

Soon I will write about the crack dealer book. The whole world should read it.

On tangents, basically.

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

I have a fleet of student workers. They are my little babies. I watch over them and dispense valuable life advice, such as “Don’t go to library school, no matter what you do” and “Moving in with your boyfriend of 2 weeks is a very, very bad idea” and “I don’t recommend trying those new mint M&Ms, because they are not delicious and taste stale.” I suspect that in some sense they respect me, and that some even like me. One of my students, who I will call J., noticed a while ago that I cut my hair a lot. When I say “a lot,” I mean I cut it, at the very least, weekly. Sometimes daily. J., who was a psychology major (she just graduated. She is starting her PhD in the fall. I hate when they become more successful than me.), told me she thinks that means I have OCD. Apparently my inability to stomach my routine appearance means I am obsessive. While the fact that I may very well be OCD came as no surprise to me (I mean, duh. I organize my shirts by sleeve length and color.), I became utterly convinced that something was very, very wrong with me.

This realization happened to coincide with a very slow day at work, a day in which I read the entire archives of McSweeney’s Recommends and stumbled upon their recommendation for Jennifer Traig’s Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood. Fate I tell you! While McSweeney’s often recommends some total garbage (ahem, The Hills and that very forgettable band Gomez), I tend to trust their literary recommendations. I can’t say I loved Traig’s book. I liked it. I had trouble putting it down. I learned a lot about my fellow OCD-ites. I found no evidence that cutting my hair a lot means I am OCD. Phew. Traig is funny and refreshingly open about her past. This past includes an extensive foray into anorexia, which Traig seems to shrug off as something trite and suburban. Traig writes that anorexia is the “surburban equivalent of getting jumped into a gang. It’s like a bat mitzvah, only with fewer ice sculptures and more laxative abuse” (88). While I have no qualms with Traig saying anorexia is almost unbearably common among young girls, I have to take issue with how callous and jaded she is by it. I mean, c’mon–just because she beat anorexia doesn’t mean it’s not killing girls and women daily. Anyway. One thumb up for Traig.

I also read Marjane Satrapi’s Perseopolis, to which I give my highest endorsement, which would be a high five and a little box of those dark chocolate and salt-covered almonds from Trader Joe’s to Satrapi. Additionally, I am tearing through John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (why the hell haven’t I read this before? It’s so good!) and plundering through Philippe Bourgois’ In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, about which I feel I will have plenty to say.

Books of 2006-October through December

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Anna Funder-Stasiland (Oct. 1-7) *

Kathryn Harrison-The Kiss (Oct. 8-13)

Julian Barnes-A Short History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters (Oct. 14-19)

Margaret Atwood-Moral Disorder (Oct. 20-26)

Aimee Bender-An Invisible Sign All My Own (Oct. 27-Nov. 1)

David Rakoff-Don’t Get Too Comfortable (Nov. 2-8) *

Milan Kundera-Life is Elsewhere (Nov. 9-15)

Matt Ridley-Genome (Nov. 16-22)

Michael Dorris-The Broken Chord (Nov. 23-29) *

Dan Savage-The Committment (Nov. 30-Dec. 7)

Margaret Randall-Sandino’s Daughters (Dec. 8-13)

John McPhee-Oranges (Dec. 14-19)

Gish Jen-Typical American (Dec. 20-26)

Jan Gross-Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Dec. 27-31)

Books of 2006-July through September

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Barbara Ehrenreich-Bait & Switch (Jul. 2-8)

Milan Kundera-Unbearable Lightness of Being (Jul.9-15)

Margaret Atwood-Good Bones and Simple Murders (Jul. 16-22)

Haruki Murakami-Kafka on the Shore (Jul.23-29)

Ian Frazier-Great Plains (Jul. 30-Aug. 5) **

F. Scott Fitzgerald-Tender is the Night (Aug. 6-12)

Imre Kertesz-Fatelessness (Aug. 13-19) *

Nicole Krauss-History of Love (Aug. 20-26)

Erlend Loe-Naive. Super (Aug. 27-Sep. 2)

Jay McInerney-Bright Lights, Big City (Sep. 3-9)

Bill Bryson-Neither Here nor There (Sep. 10-16)

Sean Wilsey-Oh the Glory of it All (Sep. 17-23)

Martin Amis-Yellow Dog (Sep. 24-30)

Books of 2006-April through June

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

The list continues! Be warned: this section is, like, exclusively Murakami and Atwood (this is because once I get obsessed with something I stay obsessed with that something until I’ve exhausted it.) This would be a good time to also clarify that I have been a devoted Atwood fan since I was 17. IDOL STATUS.

Haruki Murakami-Norwegian Wood (Apr. 2-8)

Haruki Murakami-South of the Border, West of the Sun (Apr. 9-15)

Margaret Atwood-Life Before Man (Apr. 16-22)

Margaret Atwood-Surfacing (Apr. 23-29)

Raymond Chandler-The Big Sleep (Apr. 30-May 6)

Haruki Murakami-Sputnik Sweetheart (May 7-13)

Ian McEwan-The Comfort of Strangers (May 14-20)

Ron Carlson-At the Jim Bridger (May 21-27)

Margaret Atwood-The Tent (May 28-Jun. 3)

Milan Kundera-Slowness (Jun. 4-10)

Ian McEwan-The Child in Time (Jun. 11-17)

Haruki Murakami-Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (Jun. 18-24)

Ian McEwan-The Cement Garden (Jun. 25-Jul. 1)

Books of 2006-January through March

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Finally.

These are the books I read in 2006 (one per week, alas: book a week geek). It does not include things I read for school, books of poetry or graphic novels/comic books. It does include books of short stories, because I think those count as books. It was fun. I was proud of myself. Asterisked are those I loved.

With no further ado, the first three months:

Margaret Atwood-Bluebeard’s Egg (Jan. 1-7)

Toi Derricotte-The Black Notebooks (Jan. 8-14)

Annie Dillard-An American Childhood (Jan. 15-21)

Ron Carlson-The Hotel Eden (Jan. 22-28)

JM Coetzee-Waiting for the Barbarians (Jan. 29-Feb. 4)

Sherman Alexie-The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (Feb. 5-11) *

Ha Jin-War Trash (Feb. 12-18) *

Tobias Wolff-This Boy’s Life (Feb. 19-25)

Milan Kundera-The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Feb. 26-Mar. 4)

Erica Jong-Fear of Flying (Mar. 5-11)

Phillip Roth-Goodbye, Columbus (Mar. 12-18) *

David Foster Wallace-Girl with Curious Hair (Mar. 19-25)

Amy Krouse Rosenthal-Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (Mar. 26-Ap. 1)