You didn’t think I meant it before when I said I’d be resuming regular posting again at erratic and unpredictable times, did you? Whether you thought I wouldn’t post again or that I would post on a regimented schedule, you were wrong, dead wrong!
I’m back, Fanlings! Back and blogger than ever! Look, I know that last bit doesn’t actually make any sense, but just go with it, okay? I’m just riding out an hour or so before an appointment, so I thought I’d update this personal blog with various interesting tidbits.
First off, whenever I have to be somewhere, I say I have “an appointment,” because it sounds like I am a very arch, classy lady from the 1960s, like Tippi Hedren or Roger’s first wife on Mad Men. It also mitigates the embarrassment I feel when I have an actual doctor’s appointment, since I always feel ashamed that my body and/or mind is anything but factory condition and worry that others are judging me for taking myself to the shop, so to speak. I do not have a doctor’s appointment this evening, but I did have one this morning, so I’m feeling just regular, graduated-from-Catholic-school levels of shame.
I’m mildly ashamed that I’ve fallen off wildly from my Cannonball Read goals. 52 books in a year? Wow, I really underestimated both my time and inclination to read that much. I mean, if I was logging hours spent dicking around on the Gawker family of websites, I’m sure I’d have completed 52 books worth of celebrity gossip and hilarious poop stories. I am all fired up to read something, but unfortunately, it’s Oryx & Crake (again), and then probably Year of the Flood (again), and I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to submit second reviews of those. But I’ll keep trying to get closer to that goal by reading new books, because my identity as a pedantic know-it-all is very important to me, and reading books is integral to being a pedantic know-it-all.
Also integral to me is exercising and not smoking! You definitely didn’t think I could do those things, did you? I haven’t been perfect (another chink in my otherwise impeccable armor, alas!), but recently had an awful, awful experience with cigarettes, the sense memory of which is likely to preclude future slip-ups. I agreed to act in a series of short sketches with a couple of friends about taking smoke breaks, not realizing that this would entail smoking for almost two hours straight. It was extraordinarily unpleasant and by the end of the day, I felt like a 40-year-old Kentuckian who worked at the Brass Ass until she finally, emphatically lost her looks, her teeth, and her sense of taste in one devastating afternoon (S/O to Her Fatness!) So I’m pretty sure that’s mostly over, but considering that smoking on camera is, for me, the equivalent of other people doing amateur pornography without condoms (illicit, intimate activity that will most likely end in death), it’s a good story. If only I’d studied English in college like my mother insisted, I could write a crackerjack story about it and then have it summarily rejected by prestigious publications the world over!
Fortunately, I did not study English, and the things I did study have been coming handy on a variety of projects. As I mentioned above, I’ve worked exercise into my routine on a semi-regular basis, and I’m eating relatively well, though my busy schedule makes it tough to relax by cooking fabulous things very often. This does mean that The Fatling isn’t quite as fat as she once was, but don’t panic! I will never have washboard abs, and I’m certain my thighs will always possess a certain insouciant jiggle. So I will continue to be your Fatling, the people’s Fatling, if you will.
As always, I’d like to promise more angry rants/pithy insights into popular culture, but you know The Fatling never made a blogular promise she couldn’t wait to break. If you’re really jonesing for that sort of thing, head over to my pal Pauncho Villa’s joint, she does that shit all the time.
Peace out, til my next book review!
Tamora Pierce does a lovely job here of tying up her Trickster duet. Duchess Winnamine Balitang, recently widowed, returns to Rajmuat from exile in Tanair with her children Petranne and Elsren, and her stepdaughters Saraiyu and Dovasary. Also with them is the clever Aly Homewood, charged by the raka god Kyprioth to keep the children alive through the winter, and now promoted from lowly maid to the household’s spymaster. The household is filled with conspirators working to bring about the overthrow of the luarin regents who rule the Copper Isles
The former crow Nawat has been courting Aly all through the winter, but feels that she doesn’t respect him as a man, and so leaves the capital city to assist in raka revolts on some of the far-flung islands. Aly works tirelessly with her network of spies to weaken the regents, Prince Rubiyanan and Princess Imajane, with rumor and destabilization of their own spy network.
The book spends far more time below stairs with the servants/conspirators than the first volume, fleshing out leaders of the rebellion like Ulasim and Fesgao. Aly’s frequent field trips to the palace with the noble family she serves are tense and gratifying, particularly her careful spy’s dance with Taybur Sibigat, head of the King’s Guard and special defender of the nation’s boy king, Dunevon. The addition of Lady Nuritin, the late Duke Mequen’s imperious aunt, is a welcome one, as is the depiction of the Balitang’s place among the luarin nobles in Rajmuat.
The one element that doesn’t quite work is Aly’s darklings—tiny black balls of special matter deus ex machina‘d into her lap by a family friend from Tortall who happens to be visiting in the Copper Isles. The darklings are sentient and magical, able to spy and report back to Aly via her constant darkling companion, Trick. Magic and intervention from the gods are a given in this universe, but it would have been more interesting to see Aly bring down the government with only her wits and command of spycraft.
Pierce doesn’t pull any punches. Numerous beloved characters perish in their fight for freedom and innocents die merely because they got in the way of someone powerful. She’s also very canny about sex and birth control, treating both subjects very matter-of-factly and without any moral teeth-gnashing. There is a happy ending, and I only regret that there are no more books detailing the further adventures of Aly.
Question: Does anyone know which characters the girls pictured on the covers of Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen are supposed to be?
This was an incredibly tough read. For some reason, when I pulled A Stolen Life off the shelf at my local library, I subconsciously classified this book with other ghostwritten celebrity memoirs—easy, People magazine four-star review stuff over which I could maintain a certain superior aloofness.
Wrong. Dead wrong. I’m ashamed to admit I equated this remarkable book with its trivial, lightweight peers.
Jaycee Dugard did not employ a ghostwriter in order to tell her story, and her tale of years of abuse at the hands of the despicable Phillip and Nancy Garrido is made all the more powerful because of it. Her prose is clear, direct, and free of pretention, all of which work together to bring the horror and eventual redemption of her “stolen life” into stark relief.
I spent the majority of the volume’s 273 pages on the verge of tears, immediately plunged into the fascinating mind of a woman who has managed to emerge from her ordeal free of hatred. I have to confess that if I had been kidnapped at 11, routinely raped, forced to bear two children in captivity and then live in a perversion of a nuclear family with my rapist and his equally culpable wife, I can’t imagine not seething with rage and hate twenty-four hours a day. But Dugard recounts the terrible events in her life with grace, helpfully taking frequent “reflection” breaks, which provide a breather for author and reader both.
I wanted to read this book because I read Room last year, and author Emma Donahue cited Dugard’s case as an inspiration for that novel. I’ve spoken with people who disagreed with Donahue’s choice to tell her story from the perspective of the captive woman’s five-year-old son, but after reading A Stolen Life, I not only agree with her decision regarding narration, I’m grateful that she spared her readers the harrowing inner voice of a person who understands exactly what is happening to her and her child.
I’m not at all sorry to have read this book, but I would caution others that it does contain unflinching, graphic descriptions of rape, and is emotionally draining even for the most hardened reader of true-life accounts. Oddly, the details that most affected me were among the most mundane—Dugard’s mentions of which television shows and music she enjoyed during her captivity. For some reason, the idea that this girl, only two years older than me, was also watching 7th Heaven and singing along to Jason Mrasz under these circumstances just broke my heart. There’s something about this false dichotomy—that she could still be a spectator for so much of what the rest of us were looking at, while simultaneously being totally and utterly cut off from the entire world—that I found especially sickening.
In an excerpt from a journal she kept after her daughters were born, Dugard states that she hopes to one day be a best-selling writer. Although I’m sure she wishes the circumstances were different, I was so moved by the fact that she has already been able to achieve one of her goals, and hopeful that she’ll be able to achieve so many more in the future. Dugard’s book and her life are remarkable testaments to a remarkable woman, and I genuinely hope that she and her children are able to move on as much as possible to live happy, fulfilled lives away from public scrutiny.
Thanks to Life’s Distractions for the unsolicited podcast plug! I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but Adoring Husband and I are doing a really fun “Downton Abbey” podcast called “Up Yours, Downstairs!” It’s searchable (and free!) in the iTunes Store, and also available at the link below.
I recently found this new podcast and I found it delightfully funny in their recaps. Its on itunes but you can also find it here. Worth a listen.
Good news, Fanlings! The Fatling is still in good spirits! I have smoked just over a half-cigarette in the past month and a half, which is pretty good, quitting smoking-wise. I did not enjoy that half-cigarette, no I did not, so I don’t anticipate kicking that up to a full cigarette anytime soon, no matter how drunk I am.
And man, I have been drunk for like 2 weeks in celebration of “the holidays.” It’s been pretty swell, but I think I need to sober up so I can get some things done, like read 52 books this year for Cannonball Read IV, especially since it looks like some cheating-types* have already posted reviews. The new year just started two days ago, no way you read Game of Thrones in a day and a half. Jerks.
I still don’t fit into most of my clothes, but that may be mitigated if I stop living entirely on cheap white wine and Christmas cookies. Even if it doesn’t, I don’t think I’d like to be too terribly thin. I like being “The Fatling,” especially now that I’m getting the hang of Twitter, and I think if I was super-skinny, all three people who read this blog would feel betrayed, like the time I got mad at Margaret Cho for losing a bunch of weight after she made me feel better about being fat in I’m the One That I Want and Notorious C.H.O. I’m still kind of mad about that, actually, so I hope Margaret Cho gets back to her roots and eats a bunch of cupcakes this year.
So, yes, although I would not kick losing 30 pounds out of bed, I plan to spend this year focusing on reading more books and not smoking. I was reading on Lifehacker this morning that it’s a bad idea to have too many goals at once, so I am taking it easy in 2012, resolutions-wise. I also think that if I expand my definition of food groups to include things that are not alcohol or baked good, at least a few of those pounds will exit stage left all on their own.
But as today is a national holiday, you’ll please excuse me while I trundle on down to the 7-11 to pick up some Yellow Tail and a bear claw. I’ll hopefully start posting book reviews today or tomorrow, thus sneaking in my backdoor, unofficial resolution to blog more and become a reclusive internet celebrity.
*I want to make it clear that this ire is not directed at the Junior Cannonballers, who are totally adorable and can do no wrong in my eyes, unless they’re running illegal cock-fighting rings or something.
“Oh, look, The Fatling’s back! She’s probably embarking on yet another ill-fated round of self-improvement and blogging that will soon devolve into some depressing-ass shit about how sad and unfulfilled she is before The Fatling disappears for months, only to return with an apology and a repeat of the same destructive cycle.”
…is what people would say if they read this blog. But they don’t, so I’m not apologizing for shit.
I’m just here to say, hey, I was bummed out in August, but I’ve been working hard and I love my life. I love it so much I wish I could marry it. I haven’t had a cigarette in 11 days. I’ve gone rock climbing a few times. I started jogging twice a week with my writing partner, Pauncho Villa. I haven’t eaten any spaghetti this week. I’m reading more. I’m playing Donkey Kong. I’m ramping up my writing and performing schedule. I’m planning to fit back into my clothes soon.
I think I might be happy.