Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

I picked this one up at the recommendation* of Molly Wizenberg at Orangette. I've been doing my own "gotta write" dance lately and needed to have just a little push in the direction of "so what if it sucks, get it down!"

Anne Lamott delivered.

The book is about writing (it's basically the seminar she gives) but it could be applied to anyone with a creative yen they're scared to embrace. She starts off by saying that you should show up, every day, at the same time, and write a really shitty first draft. She goes all the way through the process (including the small-pox infected blanket that is the reality of trying to be a writer) and up to how to avoid libel.

In the middle she tells anecdotes about her own life, and how they've fueled her writing. She tells you to be brave, to throw open the doors of your life and let the moths fly out and then write down the smells and the sounds and the grit that's left behind.

It is inspiring. It makes me wonder why I'm sitting here writing all of this. You should just read it, like I did. And then you should (to borrow Molly W's analogy) step into the cave and write. (or paint. or sew. or whatever.)

From time to time (sorry, one more thing) she would remark that her students asked questions based in fear, and  kept flashing to the scene with Robin Williams in Dead Again where Kenneth Branagh is "interrogating" him and Robin Williams offer's him a cigarette. Branagh says "no thanks, I'm trying to quit" and Robin Williams fires back with "Don't tell me you're trying to quit. People who're trying to quit are basically poulets** who cannot commit. Find out which one you are. Be that. That's it. If you're a non-smoker, you'll know."

Find out which one you are. Be that. Go. Do.

*In that post, she links to a TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert that is worth your time.
**Not the word he uses. The word I use is French for "Chickens" - the word he uses starts with a "p" and can mean the same thing. It can also mean cat.


The Help: The Movie

So I read The Help.

I loved it.

I saw the movie yesterday morning and I loved it, as well. It kept close enough to the story for me to leave the theater feeling satisfied. A couple of people have mentioned changes that bothered them - some outright and some omissions, but I feel that they were changed/omitted in the interest of the concise nature of film.

If you're inclined, go see it. You don't necessarily have to read the book first, but I recommend it.

Take a hanky. Or two.


Talking to Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield

I was turned onto this one by The Avid Reader, and I have to say that I agree with her account - it's fun and worth reading if you're into music and/or the 80s, but I'm probably not going to add it to my bookshelf.

That being said, Sheffield is engaging, using phrases like "bogarting your fair share of feminine attention." He also, in a way that could be annoying but falls mercifully into amusing, uses phrasing from the songs he enjoys - not outright quoting, but twisting it a little. The best part of this book is a) (Obviously) the music and b) his healthy respect for sisters. As a sister, I appreciate this. Even though he's the oldest child, his sisters wear the pants and he was happy under their tutelage.

The whole time I was reading I kept thinking "so this is a real life Rob-From-High Fidelity" and then when he had a chapter of the 30 best cassingles ever, I felt vindicated. He IS a real life Rob-From-High Fidelity!

Now that I have finished it I will likely stop spinning up the Hits of the 80s, but I want to watch all of my music-lover movies and re-read some of my music-lover books. Which is really something a good book should do - not trap you in its loop, but say "hey, here's some greatness....let it lead you to other greatness."

Of course, there's always an exception to this rule. One of his favorite songs, great in a love-to-hate-it way: (please note the fishnet bodysuit with red chastity belt combo.)

Your life is more complete now.


The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

I picked this up on the advice of Stories and Sweeties: she gave it 4 and a half out of 5 cupcakes.

I'd agree with that. It's your basic "teen queen gets hit by a bus and starts haunting the only dude at school who can hear her and antics ensue" tale. I ate it up. I expected it to be vapid and the writing to suck, but neither of those were true and I happily passed it along to some teenage girls I know - they'll relate to the fact that what you see from the outside is never the full story of someone's life. A lesson even adults could use reminding of now and then.

It's ultimately going to be a trilogy and the second is out already. Part of me wishes I'd waited until book 3 is out so I can read them all in succession, but this way will work, too.


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