Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Widelawns Bookclub February Meeting

Just Kids 
This past weekend several of my friends were at the AWP conference, which is an annual conference for creative writers. I was sad to miss it. I've never been, but I've always wanted to go. I think I'd just love it. Instead I'm in baby care mode, but I keep telling myself this is temporary. One day I'll get to do things again. This is just a different time in my life now and just because I'm not in grad school anymore and not teaching doesn't mean I can't still enjoy and write about books and writers. I can do it here.

I was really enjoying my summer reading posts when I was pregnant. Since the baby has been born it has taken me longer to read books, but I haven't stopped and I want to continue my Widelawns Bookclub. 

Just Read - I saw Elizabeth Gilbert on the Today show last week talking about her new book Committed that just came out in paperback. She's the author of Eat, Pray, Love as you probably know. I enjoyed this book because I like Elizabeth Gilbert's writing voice. As with her previous book, I couldn't relate to the book's central conflict about marriage. I felt like she was making a mountain out of a molehill. I wish Elizabeth Gilbert would just write travel books. I love the way she describes places I will never visit and people I will never meet but would love to. I don't need a thesis or a  personal revelation. I'd just like to hear about her adventures and her adventures in Asia were the best part of this book and make it worth reading. There were some interesting facts and insights on marriage, but overall I liked the travel stories best.

Reading Now - I decided a while back that I would try to read as many award winners as I could, so now I'm reading Patti Smith's Just Kids which won the National Book Award. It's an account of her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe who is best known for his graphic photography. I am familiar with Smith's work (her music) and with Mapplethorpe, but many of the other artists she talks about I've never heard of so I have to keep looking up names. Read this book with Wikipedia on hand. I'm not complaining though. I enjoy a book that teaches and challenges me. This book won the National Book Award on the richness of its subject matter. The writing is good, but not fantastic and you all know how I am about quality and artistry of writing. Patti Smith is a decent writer, but sometimes the story has too much exposition and too few scenes to really draw me in and there are parts of the story that I felt should be more emotional that felt cold and distant because the writing was too flat. That aside, the subject matter is riveting and fascinating and is what makes me anxious to get a free moment so I can keep reading. I still recommend it.

Waiting on the Widelawns Kindle - I have quite a few books in the Kindle queue which I hope I can get to soon.

Recently I learned that a girl I went to school with, Julie Buxbaum, when I lived in New York is now a famous writer who lives in London and is having one of her novels made into a movie starring Anne Hathaway. Again, it's my curse. People I once knew become famous and I don't. Sigh. But that doesn't mean I'm all bitter, jealous and full of schadenfreude. I'm thrilled for Julie.  I wasn't friends with her, though I wish I had been. She was in a few grades under me and mostly I remember that her brother was on Alf. I guess I kind of feel like if one person from our school at that time became a famous writer then the odds are that I won't and that makes me kind of sad. It's like winning the lottery in a way. A few years back a girl in the English department of my University won the Power Ball, so I decided never to play the lotto because the odds of two people in the same department of the same school winning are pretty much gazillions to one and I figure it's impossible for me to ever win the lottery now. You know why Julie Buxbaum became a famous writer though? Because she actually sat her ass down and wrote some books. This is something I have trouble with, so I really shouldn't complain at all. I think I need some ADD medicine because I always start things and never finish them. I seem to only be able to write essays, poems and short stories because I can finish them without losing interest or momentum. Anyway, I wanted to read Julie's books to support her and I encourage you to do the same. Waiting on my Kindle are After You and The Opposite of Love. Julie also has a blog that I enjoy. This post in particular really helped me know that my new mother anxiety is something other women experience too and I thank her for that.

Anyone else reading anything I need to put in the queue?


One Mean MFA said...

Woman your belief that just because someone you know has become famous means your chances are less likely are foolish. Think about all those successful graduates from places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and the like. With that line of thinking no one would be successful. What about success stories from people within the same family, or groups of writers who are friends that are all famous?

On to books, I recently finished reading Water For Elephants. The movie is being released soon, starring Robert Pattinson, Christopher Waltz, and Reese Witherspoon. This book was the first book I enjoyed since graduating from grad school, which I believe ruined my ability to read for pleasure and not be so damn critical. I strongly recommend it. I'll be writing a book review on it this week.

Gina said...

I read After You last year, and really liked it.

Robin said...

I just read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the two others that go with it- They were totally riveting and I couldn't put them down. I did feel like the last book wasn't developed enough because the author passed away just after submitting the manuscript- and you can tell- but they're still great books.

Jean_Phx said...

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Amazing read - it wouldn't let me go.

Anonymous said...

Emily, Alone. Read it now nd read it in 20 years, honey.

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