This book is pretty popular right now– I’ve seen a review of it in almost every magazine that I’ve opened up. Teenage Johanna Morrigan is from a family that is comically bad to epic proportions. After nerdily appearing on TV she makes herself over into a gothy music reviewer named “Dolly Wilde” and gets herself a job at the cool regional rock magazine (it’s the 1990’s so there are still cool regional rock magazines).
It’s quite an entertaining and well-written read, lots of good insight if you’re a fan of– or familiar with the real-live bands that the (possibly semi-autobiographical) character interacts with.
This is one of those cases where I learned that the author was really famous after reading the book. I just looked at Amazon– and goodness, she’s written a ton. I guess she’s on TV too?
I have been reading so much but not posting as often! I blame job, travel, summer, and illness.
I’m still kinda sick (immense ear pressure– ouch!)– and on my way out the door to work, so I’ve quickly grouped together two of the recent “best seller” types that I’ve read.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
This is one of the more stylish book covers I’ve seen in a while. It was in my bag one day and it matched a bunch of the other things in there (zipper pouch, glasses case…). And as a reader, you really get a lot of “value” from this single volume. Basically, the story starts back in the 1970’s at arty summer camp, and follows a select few of the campers (who have all kept in touch) into adulthood in the present day. I don’t think I felt the passion that the author wanted me to feel, but I still enjoyed reading about most of the interesting things that happened, and getting hyper-personalized peeks into characters’ lives. I felt like some of the plot devices were kind of trite and draggy, but again, all the different little parts were compelling and well-written enough that I will still be recommending this book to people as something nice to read on the plane/beach/park/lunch break.
get a copy here
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
I’m usually silly-obsessed with Jennifer Weiner’s books. They’re full of little pops of brilliance and allusions to contemporary pop culture and they have a delightful really personal feel that makes you really, really love the protagonist. All Fall Down has some of that. But it’s about painkiller addition, which is a kind of ugly subject that nobody’s really talking about. It’s the story that nobody really wants to read: privileged white woman has a lot going on, gets hooked on pills, hits a pretty ugly bottom, goes to rehab, and starts to get a little better.
But it’s a solid story, and a culturally relevant one. And I think that it takes someone with the mainstream clout of Jennifer Weiner to get a book like this out to the world on a mainstream publisher.
I don’t mean to say that it’s a drag to read– I read it in about a day; I put off doing other “important” and “fun” things because I wanted to find out what happened next. It’s a good book. Just different from her other stuff. Find a copy here.
Small press gem! It’s the 1980’s. 18 y/o gay goth Matt lives in the ‘burbs near LA with his mom and step dad. Works at May Company. Spends his free time with his gothy girl bff’s getting fucked up, listening to music, buying stuff, going to clubs.
Interesting, upbeat writing, and if you were around in the 80’s– or know a lot about 80’s music (specifically the band Love and Rockets), you’re gonna be pretty jazzed. The writing in general is pretty good– you can tell that it might secretly be a just little bit autobiographical, and that the author might’ve been smirking a little (at himself) as he wrote it. Some of the plot devices kind of bugged me– but now that it’s been a couple weeks I’ve forgiven them. I saw Demcak read at a Radar reading and he’s a delight irl.
Check it out!
This novella ended almost as quickly as it began, but its 137 pages are packed with lots of information. Our teen protagonist is gay and out only to his family and BFF, Jonathan. He totally wants to get down with Jonathan (also gay), but Jonathan says no, as he’s taken an interest in hooking up with lots of other guys. Theo’s dad is recovering from a brain injury and his step mom is overly obsessed with all the small details of Theo’s life, and Jonathan’s dad is a violent homophobe. Lots of events collide, and the ending, while mildly uplifting after an intense climax, is not a simple “happily ever after.”
It’s a weird little book with lots of complexities; its biggest strength is that it shows the messiness of humanity (as well as the importance having good people in your life). The ideas and emotions are really strong. The actual series of events didn’t really allure me too much, it seemed like certain happenings occurred without much purpose to the storyline. I would have liked for a lot of the side characters/events to be more fleshed out, and for this to be a novel, rather than a novella. I want Theo’s quirky 1st grade teacher who he met in the gay bar to show back up in later chapters, and for the little sister to have some kinda narrative-altering effects. That sort of thing.