What I'm Reading

Stardust by Joseph Kanon
Coming out in the fall, the next novel by the author of The Good German. It's so good I kinda want to lick the pages.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This One's for Polly

My friend Polly e-mailed me the other day to tell me that I don’t update my blog often enough to keep her entertained. Normally, that would have been fine. But this email came on a day when I was so overwhelmed, so completely in over my head, that I couldn’t see straight. So instead of being flattered that she likes my blog, and yes, I have readers, I just barely resisted the urge to respond with something that would have made my mama ashamed of me, and then I ignored the phone when she called. So even though she doesn’t know all this (at least not until she reads this entry), I knew that I was fresh and felt bad about it. So I’m writing a special entry, just to entertain her. This one’s for Polly.

One of the things that makes working in publishing so much fun is that there will always be a giant gap between what needs to be done and what one human being can conceivably do. For perfectionists, in that gap lies madness. Carolyn Reidy, the head of the adult group at my company and my boss’s boss, once put it best: “Every person in this building has a stack of things on their desk they could do to sell more books that they will never get to. It’s all about triage.” Some days, I remember that quote and I’m fine. Others, the knowledge that I’m doing my best and it will never be enough gets more than a little discouraging. Last week was the latter. I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find and was using it as a bookmark last week, and then I noticed that it was my Prozac prescription refill. The universe has a sense of humor….

My book club met yesterday, and I had to brave public transportation to get there for the first time. My book club meets on Long Island at Hofstra, my alma mater, which is a beautiful campus. Set smack dab in the middle of a giant slum. I had forgotten just how much fun the Hempstead train station was, with the assortment of homeless, quasi-homeless, and strung out people. One man was talking to himself and crying, then he went outside and made out with his girlfriend for a while. She was wearing mint green fuzzy slippers. Good times.

We read a little bit of everything in the club. This month’s book was A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. And it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I had read the first half before, but never finished it, because trying to set time aside to read something that long is hard to do when my work reading is piling up. But I always give myself permission to take a break from manuscripts for my book club, which is one of the reasons I love being in it so much. It was one of those books where I got to the end and just kind of held it for a minute to savor the moment. It was a book that reminded me why I love reading as much as I do. One of the women in the group is older, and read it in 1943 when it was new, as a 13-year-old. She’s never reread it, because she always wants to remember it from that space, not with her adult perspective. I have books like that from my past, that made such an impact that I can remember so vividly where and when I read them. Does anyone else?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

I believe in people... well, sometimes

I realize I haven't written in ages. If you didn't notice, or even worse, noticed and didn't miss me, please don't tell me. It'll just make me sad….

It seems to be a season for engagements. Two of my friends and a cousin all got engaged over the holidays (although not, of course, to one another). The Hallmark people love me.
I'm being torn by my own Pollyanna-ness. Reality vs always wanting to believe the best of people. See, here's the deal. I won't name names, to protect the guilty, but a few months ago I was home from a night out too early to go to sleep, but too tipsy to be productive. So I decided wouldn't it be fun to go on Yahoo Personals? Who knew who I'd find???
Yeah, that's where the problem comes in. Because this guy, let's call him Guy, had an ad on there. The ad said Guy was single, and lived with roommates. "Hmm, roommates?," I asked myself. "Is that what we're calling the long-term girlfriend and her kids he lives with?" Because I know them.
And it wasn't an outdated, years-old ad. No, Yahoo handily tells the reader how long it's been since the ad owner logged on. In Guy's case, it had been days. So I stewed and hemmed and hawed, and finally decided not to tell the girlfriend. For the sake of this blog, we'll call her Girlfriend. But I saw the couple recently, and Girlfriend was wearing a shiny new engagement ring. I waited until we were alone and I said to Guy, "Guy, I'm not sure if you know this, but you have an active Personal ad on Yahoo Personals."
Guy, naturally, expresses shock. "No", he says. "I had no idea."
Me: "I figured you musn't know, that's why I wanted to tell you."
Guy: "I have to take care of that."
Me, pointedly: "Yes, you do."
Exit me, stage left.
Now back to the Pollyanna-ness. I want to believe it was an innocent mistake. Maybe it was an old ad that he visits every son often to see the matches. Because who doesn't like a good ego boost now and then?? And I love a happy ending. But there's this little voice telling me that something's fishy… I want to believe the best in people. But sometimes people make it hard.