Archive for July, 2011

A Good Read

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Below, some funny passages from my new favorite book, Christopher Buckley’s satire, Thank You For Smoking:


“My entire product line is about to be moved from the cash register over to the ‘Household Poisons’ shelf and the FBI thinks I covered myself with nicotine patches.  I think frankly that I’m entitled to a little despair.”


Nick didn’t introduce himself, knowing how celebrities, especially controversial ones, value their privacy in the air.  But then he became aware that she was sneaking furtive glances at him.  When their eyes connected for the third, embarrassing time, he smiled at her.  She said, “Aren’t you the tobacco person who was kidnapped?”

“Yes,” Nick said, flattered at being approached by a celebrity.  He was about to reciprocate when she set her jaw and said, “I know a lot of people who died of lung cancer.  Good people.”

Nick said to her, “No bad people?”

She gave him a fierce look, craned about to see if there was an empty seat, and finding none, went back to angrily marking up the script on her large lap with a big, angry red pen.  Some screenwriter would pay for Nick’s insolence.


This book is so hilarious that you won’t want to read it in public for fear of laughing like a deranged lunatic.  I highly recommend it!

“What if the clock said 6:92 instead of 6:30? Would you be scared?”


I think I just found my new role model… check out the following clips of her speaking and reciting.

Naomi Shihab Nye:  On Inspiration

One of her poems:  “One Boy Told Me”

And for good measure, here’s a fantastic poem by Linda Pastan, who beat out Sylvia Plath in a Mademoiselle magazine poetry contest back in the day.  Side note, I found out just today that Sylvia Plath’s pseudonym was Victoria Lucas.  Side note to that, I found out last week that Charlotte Bronte’s pseudonym was Currer Bell.  Honestly, you think you know someone…

Let’s Hear It For Libraries

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Seriously. Where else can you borrow as many books as you want, sit around for hours reading, and use the internet for free without having to buy anything? You can even go online and renew books instantly, browse to see what’s available before even leaving your house, and request books from other county branches if your local branch doesn’t have the title you want. They even email you reminders when your books are due. You can basically find and read any book you want… for free.

Don’t get me wrong–I believe in buying books, and I do buy them. But the voracious reader knows that if you buy every book you ever read, you’re going to be in trouble–financial trouble, storage trouble, packing trouble when you move (the last time I moved, about half my boxes were filled with books… for real). The library allows you to read widely and with wild abandon. I once checked out a parenting book because I thought it might give me some classroom management tips. Like I really would have spent twenty dollars on a book titled From Difficult to Delightful in Just Thirty Days if I were at Barnes and Noble and looking to purchase just one book. There are the classics, entertaining beach books, the latest prize-winning short story collections, volumes of poetry… not to mention the scads of CDs and DVDs they have. Amazing.

So if your air conditioning broke today like mine did, I recommend spending a couple of hours cooling off in your town’s library. I can’t think of a better way to beat the heat.

The Test

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Wondering if something you’re reading is “commercial” or “literary” fiction?  Here’s a simple test to give you your answer.  Does the following sentence appear anywhere within the story?

“And yet.”

If it does, boom.  Literary fiction.  Check the bio in the back–your author probably spent last year doing a prestigious literary fellowship at some major city’s public library.

If it doesn’t, you’re reading commercial fiction.  Try not to feel too badly about yourself.

FaceSpace, Round Two

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Check it out… my friend Bisanne’s amazing play FaceSpace is going into a second running in New York City!  Buy tickets and go see it when it plays on September 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, & 10 of this year!

Happy Fourth of July!

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If you need a good beach read for Independence Day, consider this:  as part of Crack a Book WeekThe Frisky has an article on picking your next favorite book based on TV shows that you like.  Or, if you’re looking for a reason not to read, you might check out their 40 Books You Shouldn’t Bother Reading for some biting commentary on classic and contemporary books.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of independence.  Absolute freedom–in what you write, in how you choose to live–is as fantastic as it is problematic.  You can self-publish, but it’s just you out there, championing your book on your own.  You can rise from the ashes of your hundredth agent rejection and write a new book, or pitch a new agent, but there’s still no guarantee of success.  On the other hand, as long as you’re free from all contractual ties, you answer to no one but yourself.  You determine your word count; you set your deadlines.  You’re free to become the writer you want to be.  This can be liberating, scary, or maybe a combination of both.  Just like any high risk market, the highs can be as tremendous as the lows–but tomorrow, on the fourth of July, I am going to try to think of literary freedom as amazing as the fireworks that will light up the sky.