And one of the books that I read was Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman's Why We Broke Up.
So here is my question to you all: WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE SIT ME DOWN AND MAKE ME READ IT SOONER?
Because, HO. LY. COW.
I loved it.
I loved it so much that immediately after finishing it, I jumped online and ordered a copy for myself. In hardback.
As you probably already know, the book itself is about the rise and fall of Min Green and Ed Slaterton's relationship. The entire thing is an epic letter that Min, film buff extraordinaire, writes to Ed, basketball star, after their break-up. Her plan is to toss it into the box that holds all of the objects she has that are related to him, and then to chuck it onto his porch, drive away, and BE DONE WITH HIM FOREVER. Daniel Handler wrote the text, and Maira Kalman painted pictures of each object that is included in the box, and again, I loved this book so much that I can't even.
Min's voice. Her love of old movies comes screaming through in her voice, both in her dialogue and in her writing. She's super-bright, a bit pretentious (and she knows it), she's funny and she's hurting and she's over Ed completely except when she's not. And her RHYTHM. The rhythm, the way that Handler strings the words together... it's just phenomenal, in how they feel totally RIGHT, and how the book just BEGS to be read aloud. (Ask Josh, he'll tell you. I read, like, three-quarters of it aloud to him because I JUST COULDN'T STOP MYSELF.)
Like this bit, about the first note that Ed wrote to her:
And this note was a jittery bomb, ticking beneath my normal life, in my pocket fiercely reread, in my purse all week until I was afraid it would get crushed or snooped, in my drawer between two dull books to escape my mother and then in the box and now thunked back to you. A note, who writes a note like that? Who were you to write one to me? It boomed inside me the whole time, an explosion over and over, the joy of what you wrote to me jumpy shrapnel in my bloodstream. I can't have it near me anymore, I'm grenading it back to you, as soon as I unfold it and read it and cry one more time. Because me too, and fuck you. Even now.
And wow, don't get me started about the section where she describes the endlessness of a school day. Because, even though it's been almost twenty years since I experienced one, those three pages BROUGHT IT ALL RIGHT BACK. Beautifully done.
The friendships. I loved that it was so clear that Al was in love with Min from his very first appearance, but that their romantic arc was only touched on, because as much as I wanted more Al—he was wonderfully well-rounded, in that as much as it was clear that he'd be a better match for Min than Ed, he had plenty of flaws, too—this was Min and Ed's story. And the dynamics between Min and Ed's friends, those between Ed and Min's friends, those between Min and Ed's ex-girlfriends, between Min and Ed's sister, between Ed and Al, within Min's group of friends and within Ed's group of friends... all so fabulously done.
The characters. As I said, Al was wonderfully three-dimensional. And so was everyone else. Ed wasn't just a stereotypical Jerk Jock. That was certainly one of his faces. But he was also good at math, had a close relationship with his sister, was capable of being thoughtful, and, at times, hugely charming. Min is just as flawed as anyone else: some of those flaws are acknowledged by her, and some of them of them are just apparent from her chronicle. She and Ed play off of each other really well, and it's clear from the start why they are attracted to one another. (Beyond physically, I mean.)
The design. THE THICK, GLOSSY PAPER. THE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS. THE HEFT OF IT. I swoon.
I just loved it. So much so that I read it, like, a month ago, and I'm still having a hard time letting it migrate out of my Currently Reading pile and onto my shelf.
danah boyd (she doesn’t capitalize her name) is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, where she looks at how young people use social media as part of their everyday lives. She has a new book out called It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, and she’s made it available as a free PDF. On her website she writes, “I didn’t write this book to make money. I wrote this book to reach as wide of an audience as I possibly could. This desire to get as many people as engaged as possible drove every decision I made throughout this process. One of the things that drew me to Yale [the publisher] was their willingness to let me put a freely downloadable CC-licensed copy of the book online on the day the book came out.”
While I haven't been writing here, my columns at Kirkus have continued.
Here's a list:
On The True Adventures of Nicolò Zen: "Some will like the throwback feel to more old school children’s adventure stories, while others will miss the immediacy, the passion and the heart of more modern fare."
On Liv, Forever: "Mystery-wise, if you’ve seen Reptile Boy from the second season of Buffy, you’ll have figured it all out before you even read the first page. (Well, minus the giant snake thing.)"
On The Glass Casket: "The storyline was compelling, interesting and jaw-droppingly, gorily surprising—excellent enough to make the book work all on its own, what with nods to Red Riding Hood, chapter headings pulled from Tarot cards, superb atmosphere and a well-argued-on-both-sides debate about folk beliefs versus scientific inquiry—but more importantly (at least in my view), the relationships between the characters were complex, believable and emotionally honest."
On The Falconer: "She fights alongside an emotionally aloof faery dude who is graced with Otherworldly Beauty, a Deep, Long-Held Sadness and a Bad Attitude, and she can’t decide if she wants to punch him or kiss him. Check! Check! Check! Check! Check!"
A round-up of books set in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. (Although there is very little actual Mardi Gras action in the books!)
Phew. Looking that over, I guess I did slightly more in February than I was giving myself credit for.
The VIDA Count 2013: "A couple of giants in the original VIDA Count have begun to move. While we can’t call it a trend or cause for partying just yet, it is certainly noteworthy that The Paris Review’s and New York Times Book Review’s pies have significantly baked up tastier for 2013."
Variety: Goosebumps movie slated for 2016; Jack Black to star.
I've been radio silent while dealing with my annual bout of Winter Malaise—which seems to get worse every year, maybe I should buy one of those full-spectrum lights or something?—but I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. And by "feel like myself", I mean that I'm finally wanting to blather on about books and, like, INTERACT WITH HUMANITY, and just generally do stuff other than play Gnomoria* and Kingdom of Loathing while drinking endless cups of tea and re-watching Next Gen.
But until I manage to get Totally Motivated, just so you know, I AM STILL ALIVE, and will be getting back to posting regularly very soon.
Annnnnnd I just looked outside and it's snowing again.
*HOLY COW I LOVE IT SO MUCH AND I REALLY CAN'T STOP.
Josh: How are your gnomes doing? Did your yaks run away again?
Me: Pretty good! I've even got some emus and alpacas now, and they're all just trucking along. No one's even died y— ...OH MY GOD HOW DID ALL OF THOSE GOBLINS JUST GET INTO MY FORTRESS THEY'RE PUNCHING MY YAK AND STEALING MY STUFF WHAT THE HELL WHERE DID THAT MANT COME FROM!?!??!?!
Rowling says that she should have put Hermione and Harry together in the Harry Potter series instead of Hermione and Ron, according to the publication’s headline, which reads, “JK admits Hermione should have wed Harry.”
I mean, I don't doubt that she's being truthful about feeling differently about it now, but short of writing a sequel in which they're all middle-aged divorcees, there's really nothing to be done about it.
(Anyway, I've always LIKED Ron and Hermione together. And it should be noted that Hermione didn't HAVE to end up with anyone!)
Together with the American Library Association, he is therefore setting up a new $3,000 (£1,800) award, The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity. "The Snicket prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them," said Snicket, who is funding the prize from his own "disreputable gains".
"This seems like a better way to channel money to librarians than my previous strategy, which was incurring exorbitant late fees," said the author. The winner will also receive "an odd, symbolic object" from Snicket's "private stash", he said, "as well as a certificate, which may or may not be suitable for framing".
As I do really enjoy Daniel Handler's shenanigans, I really should give the Series of Unfortunate Events another chance.
SIGGGGGGGGGGGGH. And also GAAAG. I'm not going to go into the whole boy books/girl books/let's please stop assigning genders to books because HOLY COW and also YEESH:
But, as I'm sure you know, it's not all that unusual to find books marketed like that NOW, let alone in the early '90s, so no, that's not the weird aspect of this find.
Here's the back cover:
AND NOW, THE FRONT COVER (AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE AUTHOR REVEAL):
I wonder if this is where his horror career began. I mean, this premise kind of already has him halfway there, right? Just turn Ernie into a soul-sucking demon or make those twins into evil replicants or make the couch carnivorous, and BAM: instant Goosebumps title.
Anyway, I'm fascinated. So I'll take it home and let you know how it goes.