Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
For the first time, my favorite bonkers GoodReads reviewer and I have read the same book. We didn't come to the same conclusions:
Ploppolina: "It was good! I wore out a pack of coffee stained sticky notes highlighting what I liked. But it was like a quarter of the way through the author abandoned her plot, and her characters, and just wrote "I don't hate men, but" then repeated the feminist mantras." Four stars.
Me: "This is less a poetry collection, and more a self-help book. I think if these motivational quotes were embedded in an actual story, as opposed to just being page after page of paragraph-length aphorisms connected by conceit but not narrative, I'd have been more engaged by them. But there aren't any original or creative ideas in any of the aphorisms. I feel like I've read this entire book before on a series of embroidered pillows." Two stars.
The book in question is part of Amanda Lovelace's mostly centered, poorly illustrated series of supposedly motivational fairy tales that reads like The Most Insipid Instagram Account. I received a free advanced copy of the book, and would still like a refund.
Whenever I need a slight pick me up, I go to my GoodReads friend page and find the Five Star Fairy and read her amazing reviews.
Today, I saw this awesome review of a children's book called Gus The Dinosaur: "Very cute. Zero historical accuracy. Gus is a better person than I am. FIVE STARS."
There's a lot to unpack in those three sentences, and a rating.
Also, she reviewed a sixteen page book about making paper dolls: "Reading this book gave me an english degree. FIVE STARS."
After reading a book of poetry that was so vapid and unengaging that I questioned whether I ever wanted to read again, I went and found reviews that heaped praise upon it. I friended the reviewers, and will now use their poetry shelves to make sure I never order anything they like ever again.
Me, a queer person, reviewing a book by a straight, cis, white woman:
"I hope more queer writers get work in the industry so that (a straight, cis, white woman) and her ilk can go back to writing fluffy, inoffensively bland hetero relationship comics" (instead of stories about queer male teenagers).
"If you're a woman who enjoys the fetishization of gay males to help you get up in your feels, than this bullshit is Your Bullshit, and you're welcome to it."
A straight, CIS, white woman: "I disagree! It gave a great representation for the lgbtq+ community and it definitely wasn’t fetishized. I thought it was just any other love story."
Me, internally: "Shut up, Camille."
In a conversation about the Madeline L'Engle's Kairos Cycle.
Dude: Did you read all of them?
Me: No. I tried. Earlier this year, I started in on them, but they were way too Christian for me. And the endings of each book were pretty basic garbage writing. I get why they're important. And I'm glad they exist for the people who like them. But, mainly, I think, the best thing they ever did was inspire other women to write better science fiction books for children.
Dude: You couldn't make it through three childrens' books?
Me: There's eight of them. Wrinkle In Time, Wind In The Door, Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, Mostly Harmless, Fantastic Beasts, Rogue One, and The Simarillion.
Dude: Fuck you.
Me: There really are eight of them.
I woke up annoyed. I know there are those of you who imagine I wake up annoyed every day, but you're wrong. Every other Thursday, I wake up Filled With Rage. And Saturdays are usually reserved for Confused Ire.
Out in the kitchen, my roommate was listening to an audiobook. I have to assume the book is called Detective Filesearcher And The Files From The FIle Cabinet. Here's the excerpt that I woke up to.
<<He opened the file cabinet to search for the file that would help him clear the case but the fie cabinet had been tampered with and the files were out of order. Someone didn't want him to find the file.
His search was taking too long. Any minute now someone would walk into the office and find him searching for the file, and the gig would be up. He had to find the file fast.
When he finally found the file, it seemed light. He should have held the file under his arm as he exited the office but the file was awkward. He worried someone would see him carrying the file out of the office. But no one did.
He drove to Danny's house. She answered the door in her robe. The belt of the robe was askew just enough to reveal the outline of her nightgown. It reminded him of how the file was slightly falling out of the file folder.
"What's that file?" Danny asked, questioningly.
"Nevermind the file." He said. "I'm hungry."
"Fine. I'll make eggs for you and your file." She said file-ingly.
While Danny cooked eggs, he went into the garage with the file. Parts of the file were missing. There were spreadsheets and TL-9 reports, and pictures, and paperwork, and newspaper articles but still there was something not in the file.
"Who had tampered with the file," he wondered "and what had they taken from the file?"
Suddenly, the garage door opened. It was the FBI.
"I'm Detective Persons. FBI." The FBI agent said. "I'm here for the file."
"What file?" He asked, putting the file on the hood of the car.
Danny opened the garage door. "What are you doing in my garage?" Danny asked. "Is this about the file?"
"Keep your mouth shut, Danny." He said.
"I'm from the FBI." The FBI agent said. "Go back into the house ma'am."
"This is my garage." Danny said while standing in her garage.
"Ma'am. I'm from the FBI and I'm going to need you to leave your garage."
"But it's my garage." Danny said to the FBI agent.
"Ma'am. This doesn't concern you. This is FBI business. I'm an FBI agent. I need you to leave."
Danny covered her nightgown with her robe. "You need me to leave my garage so you can talk about the file?" Danny asked.
"Yes ma'am." The FBI agent said.
"It's about the file." he said.
Danny left the garage, clutching her robe around her nightgown.
"Looks like I'm never going to get those eggs." He said.
"Is that the file on the hood of the car?" The FBI agent asked.
"What file?" He asked. He had brushed the file to the garage floor while FBI Agent Persons talked to Danny.
"I'm afraid you're going to have to come with me." FBI Agent Persons said. "We have some questions about a missing file."
They walked out the garage door, the file still loose on the garage floor. He hoped Danny found it before the FBI agents got a search warrant. As he got into the car, he imagined Danny picking up the files in her bathrobe, the belt askew, revealing the outline of her nightgown. He filed that thought away.>>
Me: "When I was a teenager, someone recommended Ayn Rand to me, and some wires got crossed in my brain, and I read Interview With The Vampire, and thought Well, it was okay, but I don't get why it's so politically divisive. By the time I realized my mistake, I had no desire to read Rand's work."
Friend: "Honestly vampires would make Ayn Rand 100 percent better, but it would still be unreadable."
Me: "Yea, 100% of zero is still zero."
I love checking out the way comic "fans" write reviews on Goodreads.
*****: "My fave!"
**** : "The art was good, but the story ended abruptly.
*** : "The story was ok, but it's not as good as Hellboy."
** : "Why are Nazis always the bad guys? This writer has no imagination. Also, the artist has no proper sense of biology."
* : "I was conceived on a Monday night in Newark. My father was drunk on Maker's Mark, even though he usually drank Jameson. My mother wore Chanel Number 5 and was wearing a sunflower in her hair. My parents divorced before I was born,though they both still pine for each other when the moon is in Saggitarius or when McDonald's puts the lobster roll back on the menu...
(8 pages pass)
...When I was five, I wanted a swingset, but my mother bought me a tire swing, which wasn't as frustrating as the way the artist in this book can't decide whether the robot's eyes are French Blue or Medium Parisian Blue. I mean a six year old can tell the difference, and I should know, when I was six, my teacher said that my ability to distinguish colors was the only positive thing about me..." (etc. etc. ad infinitum)
When I am feeling down about my art, and where I am in my life, I do something that I've never heard recommended. I go find an artist whose work is in the same vein as mine. Someone who is more successful than me, but whose work I despise.
I read as much of their work as I can stand, and then I close the browser window, or the book, or whatever media brought their work to my eyes or ears, and I think "This talentless bozo wakes up every day and decides not only to live, but to keep producing their horrible art and inflict it in on the world. And people are giving them money for it. And this artist is, if not happy, at least content to keep breathing every day, despite all the hexes that right thinking people have put on them. And if this dingleberry gets to continue to live and produce this art that I hate, then there must be a place for me and my work."
Then I go make food, or watch TV, or something that makes me forget their terrible art.
I never do this BEFORE sitting down to create work, I only do it after I get frustrated by work, and I always give myself time to completely forget about before returning to create.
A very nice girl comes into the store, and finds our very small playing card section.
"Alice in Wonderland!" She says. "That is my favorite book!"
I smile. It is also one of my favorites. “But that’s not the book. It’s nothing but a pack of cards!”
She frowns at me. “What?”
"Nothing but a pack of cards." ******SPOILER ALERT***** "That’s what Alice says before she wakes up at the end of the book."
"it’s kind of her ‘Hasta La Vista Baby’ moment."
She says “I don’t remember that part of the movie.”
"Well, it’s in the book. And the Disney movie. And, I’m pretty sure it’s in the TV movie, too."
"It’s not in the Johnny Depp one." She says. "The good one."
"But you’ve read the book, right?"
Blank stare. “It’s a kid’s book.”
"But it’s your favorite book." I say. "You said so."
"The movie is my favorite book."
I am all out of words today.