Toole, John. Kennedy. A Confederacy of Dunces. New York: Grove Press, 1980.
Reason read: Why was this book on my list? I completely forgot. Probably something having to do with Hurricane Katrina.
Confederacy of Dunces is like cilantro: either you love it and you want it on anything and everything, or you hate it and you think it tastes like soap; you can’t come within ten feet of it. Meet Ignatius J Reilly, the trumpet and lute playing, obese and unemployed, lazy and insolent video gamer still living with his mother at thirty years old. He truly is the master of the deadly sin of sloth.
Reading Confederacy of Dunces was like playing the Untangle Me Game. You know, the one you play with string. Take twenty extremely long pieces of string, tangle them all around a room and then have twenty people chose an end to each piece of string. They must try to crawl over and under one another in an effort to untangle the mess. There are usually prizes at the other end of each string. Trying to follow the plot of Confederacy of Dunces was like trying to crawl under someone with extremely bad body odor in the hopes your entanglement will wind its way far, far away from the offending smell. Except. There was no prize at the end. I didn’t get it. In addition, I have a low tolerance for repetition and Confederacy is redundant on multiple levels. I will say, the best part of Confederacy was the culture of New Orleans. It lived and breathed like an unintended character. The parts about New Orleans I laughed about.
Line I liked, “When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip” (p 6). Okay. Funny.
Author fact: John Kennedy Toole at thirty-one committed suicide in a remote field. Maybe he was too much like Ignatius and couldn’t find his way to success.
Book trivia: Many different people have tried to make A Confederacy of Dunces into a movie. I don’t think it has happened yet.
Nancy said: Pearl said that A Confederacy of Dunces is an example of “What Mothers Ought Not to Do” (p 160). She also called it a “raucous tragicomedy” (p 168).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Mothers and Sons” (p 160) and again in the chapter called “New Orleans” (p 168).
Nunez, Elizabeth. Anne In-Between. New York: Akashic Books, 2009.
Reason read: Anna In-Between reflects on childhood. Every time my birthday nears, so do I. Read for myself.
Thirty-nine year old Anna returns to her parents’ home in the Caribbean islands. Anna has been in New York City as an in-demand editor for almost eighteen years, returning to her Caribbean home periodically for short visits. She returns, not because of a longing for her country, but only to check in on her aging parents. They appreciate the visits but feel Anna has lost touch with her roots. It is as if Anna cannot wait to bolt from her childhood memories, the color of her mixed-race skin, and her emotional parents.
On this particular trip, Anna discovers her mother has advanced stage breast cancer and is appalled her parents have been aware of the growing tumors all along. It is inconceivable they chose not to do anything about the disease growing in Beatrice’s breast. With Anna’s insistence of medical care ever increasing, Anna’s parents finally visit a doctor to begin treating the disease with chemotherapy. Anna’s mother, however, draws the line at traveling to the United States for necessary-for-survival surgery, strongly believing her dark skin will warrant sub par treatment.
Mother and daughter are locked in a cultural battle; mother accusing daughter of becoming too Americanized as if it were akin to catching a different debilitating disease. [As an aside, their fight reminded me of my own battles. My mother is convinced I no longer have the capacity to take care of my childhood home; as if the ways of Monhegan are too foreign to me as now I live with running water, working lights, and an automatic thermostat.] Anna In-Between is the dance of expectation. Mothers want so much for their daughters that reality seems like a constant disappointment, an “you can never do anything right” attitude. Been there! Beatrice is not entirely to blame in all this. Anna has her assumptions, too. She has so much pent up resentment towards her mother she thinks Beatrice blames her for a failed marriage, is disappointed in Anna’s less than impressive career, and is embarrassed by Anna’s less than impeccable appearance. It is hard for Anna to empathize; to see Beatrice as human when she feels like such a failure herself. I won’t spoil the plot, but I can say Nunez’s gift is a satisfactory non-ending with a healthy dose of hope. For Anna and Beatrice.
Interestingly enough, Nunez refers to the locale of Anna In-Between as “the island” as if she doesn’t want to put a pin the map of where the story actually takes place.
Author fact: Nunez was born in Trinidad.
Book trivia: Anna In-Between was reviewed by Edwidge Danticat. I just finished reading The Farming of Bones by Danticat last month.
Nancy said: Pearl said she has enjoyed the novels of Nunez and made mention of Anna In-Between (Book Lust To Go p 58).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Cavorting Through the Caribbean – Trinidad and Tobago” (p 58).
Alexie, Sherman. “The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above.” Ten Little Indians. New York: Open Road, 2003.
Reason read: June is Short Story Month
A man looks back at his childhood to paint a picture of his mother, Estelle. As a member of the Spokane Indian tribe and a force to be reckoned with, Estelle was by turns someone to admire and someone to avoid. Sounds like practically every mother I know. She spent most of her lift as a spiritual guru to white women as she adores their culture over her own.
Quote to quote, “I wasn’t a vegetarian by choice, I was a vegetarian by economic circumstance” (p 42).
Author fact: Alexie has won a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Book trivia: Ten Little Indians actually only has nine stories.
Nancy said: Pearl included Alexie in her list of short stories she most enjoyed.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Good Things Come in Small Packages” (p 102).
“Live a life steeped in experiences.” That’s what my tea bag therapist said this morning. I’m not sure what to make of that advice, considering I have been passing each day as if waiting for something, but not exactly sure what.
I keep going back to the hospital for x-rays and answering mind-throttling questions like, “when did you break your back? How long have you been having extremity nerve pain?” Nearly passing out from lack of comprehension, I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t, but at that moment I sat there in silence with a stuck-in-dumb expression on my face. Yes, my back hurts from time to time, but broken? Yes, I have been complaining about my hands and feet falling asleep, but pain? I was there to get my protruding rib cage scrutinized. Now they tell me it’s a nodule on my lung and abnormally high white blood cell counts. “Probably a viral infection,” the nurse said of my white blood cell count. This was before the nodule on my left lung (25% malignant cancer) was a reality via CT scan. Are the two related? Am I falling to pieces? Sure feels that way. In the meantime, I have buried myself in books:
Fiction (Lots of books for kids and young adults):
- David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd (AB): a book for children, added in honor of Fantasy Month.
- The Pinballs By Betsy Byars: another kids book added in honor of Adoption month.
- Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko.
- Martin Dressler: the Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser.
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (EB).
- Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love by Michael Malone.
- Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller.
- She’s Not There: a Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan.
- The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah.
- Expecting Adam: the Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Magic by Martha Beck (AB)
- Scales of Gold by Dorothy Dunnett.
Beck, Martha. Expecting Adam: a True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic. Ready by Joyce Bean. Tantor Media Inc., 2012.
Reason read: my mom’s birthday falls in the month of November. Read in her honor.
I love it when overly intellectual people have to rely on unscientific phenomenons like faith and hope and magic. I think being able to let go of factual reasoning and open our minds to blind trust stretches our narrow minded boundaries a little wider. Beck speaks to having a premonition before her son, Adam, was born. There had been almost mystic signs he was not going to be an ordinary child. Throughout Beck’s pregnancy inexplicable events pushed her to believe in decidedly unscientific miracles. The problem is both Beck and her husband, John, were obsessed with facts. Overly driven to be successful (two Harvard degrees each), they couldn’t wrap their brains around giving birth to a Down syndrome baby. Expecting Adam is the story of letting go to perfection; the releasing of ambitions; the saying goodbye to lofty goals…and saying hello to an angel.
As an aside, Beck made some references that I was unfamiliar with, enough so that I needed to look them up and keep track:
- Deng Xiaping
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Lines I liked, “It works for me to think that I will be lumped together with the right-to-lifers, not to mention every New Age crystal kisser who ever claimed to see an angel in the clouds over Sedona” (p 8), “If we saw people as they really are, the beauty would overwhelm us” (p 308), and “Not I think that the vast majority of us “normal” people spend our lives trashing our treasures and treasuring our trash” (p 317).
By the way, I thought that the word retarded wasn’t political correct and should be avoided at all cost. Or, is it one of those words you can use on yourself and it’s okay? All I know is it was jarring every time I saw it in print.
Book trivia: There is a lovely picture of Martha and Adam on the back inside flap of Expecting Adam. It made me smile.
Author fact: Beck is a Harvard grad, receiving multiple degrees in sociology (B.A., M.A. and a Ph.D). I guess this is what we would call this a serial student.
Nancy said: Nancy said Expecting Adam “is a unique mixture of sophisticated humor, satire, self-deprecation, and spirituality.” She also called it, “hysterically funny” (More Book Lust, p 172).
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Nagging Mothers, Crying Children” (p 172).
What do you do when the most inappropriate sentiment unexpectedly comes out of someone’s mouth? A confession that should never have left the lips of the confessor? Instead of thinking of the actions I should take I chose to take none. I do nothing. Distance makes it easy to ignore and deny. When I can’t avoid I read. Here are the books started for November:
- Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love by Michael Malone – Malone was born in the month of November; reading in his honor.
- Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko – in honor of November being Native American Heritage month.
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – November is National Writing month. Choosing fantasy for this round.
- Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller – Routsong’s birth month was in November. Reading in her honor.
- Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser – reading in honor of Millhauser’s birth place, New York City.
- Expecting Adam: a True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck – in honor of my mother’s birth month.
- The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah – in honor of Morocco’s independence was gained in November.
- Scales of Gold by Dorothy Dunnett – to continue the series started in honor of Dunnett’s birth month in August.
Fun: nothing decided yet.
Early Review: I have been chosen to receive an early review but I will refrain from naming it in case it doesn’t arrive.
Gallman, Kuki. I Dreamed of Africa. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.
Reason read: Read in honor of Gallman’s birth month.
This has got to be one of the most heart wrenching yet uplifting books I have ever read about one woman’s life experiences in Africa. After divorcing her first husband Kuki marries the widower of a friend (Kuki survives the same car accident that her friend did not). Paolo convinces Kuki and her young son to move to Kenya, a far cry from the life of privilege in Italy. There, Kuki and her son, Emanuele Pirri-Gallman, fall in love with the land, the animals, and the people of Ol Ari Nyiro. Even after Paolo is killed in a tragic accident, Kuki is determined to stay in Africa. Pregnant with his child, Kuki buries Paolo at the ranch and continues to carry out their dreams. Three years later, even after her seventeen year old son dies of a lethal snake bite, Kuki is even more determined to stay on the ranch. She buries Ema next to Paolo and slowly, through grief and time, finds new purpose to her life.
Author fact: So. I was poking around the internet and found out just last year Kuki had been shot twice while trying to defend her land. What the what???
Book trivia: Gallman includes a bevy of beautiful photographs, mostly in color, of her world. Some of the pictures are drop dead gorgeous. Some of the pictures are drop dead tragic, as well.
Nancy said: Nancy included Kuki’s I Dreamed of Africa because it was one example of a writer writing about her life in Africa following World War II (p 76) although the war is never part of Kuki’s story.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Dreaming of Africa” (p 76).
Drabble, Margaret. The Millstone. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1965.
Reason read: June is national family month.
Rosamund is pregnant. In her world, this might be okay if she was married and looking to start a family. The problem is, she is a Renaissance literature scholar pursuing her doctorate and living off mommy and daddy while they tour Africa. She only became pregnant right after her first and only sexual encounter. She’s as naive as they come. She had been dating two guys at once and was still a virgin…until she met George (who she thought was gay and therefore had nothing to worry about). It is very telling when she asks herself, “I wondered on how many other serious scores would I find myself ignorant” (p 44). Just wait until you read how she thought she could make herself miscarry.
But, all is not lost. When Rosamund decides to keep the baby and starts to experience motherhood first hand a new personality emerges.
Lines I liked, “The gin kept me gay and undespairing and I thought that I might ring up George and tell him about it” (p 20), “She just stared straight ahead and the word that was written on her face was endurance” (p 75), “I knew something now of the quality of life, and anything in the way of happiness that I should hereafter receive would be based on fact and not hope” (p 158).
Author fact: A.S. Byatt and Margaret Drabble are sisters.
Book trivia: Drabble writes in pages-long paragraphs that I sometimes found distracting. Of note: there aren’t any chapters so finding good stopping points was tricky.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “All in the Family: Writer Dynasties” (p 6).
Lauren, Jillian. Everything You Ever Wanted: a Memoir. New York: Penguin, 2015.
Reason read: As a member of the Early Review program for LibraryThing I occasionally review uncorrected proofs. This is my book for March/April.
It is safe to say I devoured Everything You Ever Wanted. In the midst of reading four other books I made time for Everything every single day. But, here’s the thing – her writing is so clear, so honest, so raw that I didn’t want to rush it. I wanted to savor every page, every sentence, every word (much like I did when I reviewed her earlier work, Pretty).
Lauren wrote Everything You Ever Wanted for her adopted son, Tariku; how she came to be his forever mom, his real mom. But, here’s the beautiful thing about this book – if you know anything about Jillian Lauren you know she has had a colorful past. She is a self proclaimed former addict and slut. With her tattoos and rocker attitude she doesn’t look like the perfect candidate to adopt a child, much less one with special needs. But Everything You Ever Wanted doesn’t sugarcoat any of her experiences, past or present. It wasn’t enough to say, “hey – I have a rough history but here’s how I got beyond it.” No, she let her past struggles give her strength to deal with new ones. This is a great read for anyone who thinks they “blew it” earlier in life and can’t start over. Even the end of Everything You Ever Wanted has shafts of sunlit hope. Despite her sex & drugs former lifestyle, Lauren and her husband want to adopt for a second time to give Tariku a sibling. By now all the agencies know her story. SPOILER ALERT: she doesn’t tell you if they are successful, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying.
Confessional: it is so frustrating to review an uncorrected proof! There are so many great sentences I wanted to pull out of Everything You Ever Wanted if nothing more than to say, look at how beautiful this writing is!
Long, Liza. The Price of Silence: a Mom’s Perspective of Mental Illness. New York: Hudson Street Press, 2014.
Liza Long is a single mother trying to raise a son with a mental illness. She will tell you this fact many times throughout The Price of Silence. Many will recognize her as the author of the blog post, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” Price of Silence is the long version (excuse the pun) of that post. This was a hard book to read on so many different levels. I felt that Long was trying to justify the blog post that thrust her into the spotlight. If not justify, then to at least explain it further; to clarify points. I felt she was defending herself against many different misconceptions, the biggest misconception being what it is like to raise a mentally ill child. Long is desperate to make the world understand that there is an unfair stigma attached to the treatment of mental illness (stigma is something else she mentions a lot). A physical injury is treated with urgency while “anything above the neck” is hemmed and hawed over with head scratching and no clear treatment plan. A physical injury has a logical explanation while the violent outburst of an autistic does not. There is a lot of hand wringing that takes place in The Price of Silence but it is effective. I was drawn into Long’s story and felt her frustrations clearly. Long was able to articulate the facts along side her feelings, something that isn’t easy to do while in the midst of the turmoil.
As an aside, I often wonder if Long would have allowed her blog post to be renamed, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” had Mrs. Lanza survived her son’s attack. I feel the post was renamed for shock value and to possibly draw in misinformed reader; the one who read it simply because he or she thought there had been a mistake and the real Mrs. Lanza was still alive. I wanted Long to call the post, “I Could Have Been Adam Lanza’s Mother” (much in the same way Dave Matthews could have been a parking lot attendant. Mr. Matthews is not a parking lot attendant of course, but the point being anything can happen. Lanza’s story could have been Long’s.)
Reason read: As a member of LibraryThing’s Early Review program, this was the June selection. I should note that Price of Silence should go on sale August 28, 2014.
Author fact: Long has a blog here.
Book trivia: This copy of Price of Silence promises an index at publication but I do not know if the final version will include photographs or any other personalization.
Cook, Claire. The Wildwater Walking Club. New York: Voice, 2009.
This book was not on my list. Not indexed in Book Lust, More Book Lust or Book Lust To Go. It wasn’t on an Early Review list for LibraryThing. I didn’t request it from anyone, either. So. Here’s how I came to read this book. It just showed up on my doorstep. Just like that. Here’s the back story as far as I understand it: I have mentioned Just ‘Cause more than once in this blog (and even more in the other one) so, if you have been paying attention you know that Just ‘Cause is near and dear to my heart. It is a nonprofit organization that supports two different charities, the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden and the Massachusetts General Hospital Oncology Center. More organically, we are a group of women who walk 60 miles every year to raise money. Like I said, it’s very near and dear to my heart and soul. Along the 60 miles (over the course of three days) we women make amazing memories and cultivate fabulous friendships.
One such amazing friend calls herself “the other Heidi S” because there are two in the group. One Heidi is bad enough, but to have two, both with the same last initial….well, it’s an endless joke. This Heidi S and I *must* have spent some time talking books. There are so many different conversations that happen on the walk I can’t really be sure. But, this Heidi S sends Miss Stella Grace this book, The Wildwater Walking Club with no explanation. Completely out of the blue. I haven’t a clue. I really don’t remember having even the smallest of conversations about this book. We could have. I’m sure we did. Really, so much stuff is shared I can’t keep it all straight. (The one thing I do remember finding out is we both went to Pies on Parade for the first time last year…but that’s a story for another time.)
Anyway, in the mail arrives this cute package, tied up in brown string. It’s Claire Cook’s Wildwater Walking Club and I read it in three days. Bing Bang Boom Done. It’s cute. The plot is super simple. Noreen is a woman who just lost her job and her boyfriend all at once. Realizing she is a corporate has-been with no personal life and a little extra weight she decides to take up walking. Along the way she recruits two other women from her neighborhood. Before long they have formed a club, are planning trips and vandalizing the neighborhood together. Of course, it’s chick lit so you have to have a little man trouble called dating, a little mother grief and a lot of laughs. It’s a cute book from the woman who brought you Must Love Dogs (Okay everyone! Time for a collective “OH!).
I could relate to Noreen on a few levels. Her relationship with her mother is strained. She thinks mom is constantly comparing her marriage-less, childless life to her siblings (all married with children, all leading very full lives). Her job was all that she knew and until she was laid off she didn’t realize how much it was affecting her personal life. And the one thing I’ve always known, walking makes everything better on so many different levels.
Angelou, Maya. Mom & Me & Mom. New York: Random house, 2013.
My very first thought when seeing this newest autobiography of Angelou’s was to ask myself, “This is the seventh autobiography. How much more can she reveal about her life?” But then I realized this recent publication focuses more on her mother unlike any other autobiography of its kind. The language is simple yet straight forward and honest. Angelou delivers this memoir with emotion that ranges from early anger over her mother’s abandonment to utter admiration and respect. Throughout it all her mother delivers an almost a tongue-in-cheek attitude that is both humorous and brave given the climate of the racial times. It was joyful to watch how close mother and daughter truly became; how they were there for each other through it all.
As an aside – I find it incredibly difficult to believe I don’t have a single Angelou publication on my Book Lust Challenge list. I wonder why Pearl would leave out such as influential author?
Ponsot, Marie. “Winter.” Springing.New york: Alfred A Knopf, 2002. p 225.
Such a short poem and oh so seemingly uncomplicated! Don’t be fooled by its length or lack of veiled meaning. It is a snapshot of two neighbors, living side by side. Two mothers, their sons had grown up as friends. Only now the reader finds out one mother has lost her son to suicide. The other doesn’t know what to say. Isn’t that always the way? There is pain in this surviving-son’s mother’s voice as she struggles with words and sentiments. It’s elegant and emotional.
And to think I read it thinking it was going to be about winter (because I can’t wait for it to be over). That will teach me to judge a poem by its title!
Favorite line, “Both boys hated school, dropped out feral, dropped in to separate troubles” (p 225).
Reason read: April is National Poetry Month. So. There. This is the first poem of the month!
Author fact: Ponsot’s book The Bird Catcher won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 1998.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry Pleasers” (p 189).
December 2012 was a decidedly difficult month. I don’t mind admitting it was stressful and full of ups and downs. How else can I describe a period of time that contained mad love and the quiet urge to request freedom all at once? A month of feeling like the best thing on Earth and the last person anyone would want to be with? I buried myself in books to compensate for what I wasn’t sure I was feeling. And I won’t even mention the Sandy twins. But wait. I just did.
- The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer ~ in honor of all things Hanukkah. This was by far my favorite book of the month.
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner ~ in honor of Iowa becoming a state in December. This was a close second.
- The Tattered Cloak and Other Novels by Nina Berberlova ~ in honor of the coldest day in Russia being in December. I read a story every night.
- Big Mouth & Ugly Girl by Carol Joyce Oates ~ in honor of Oates being born in December. I was able to read this in one sitting.
- The Women of the Raj by Margaret MacMillan ~ in honor of December being one of the best times to visit India
- Rosalind Franklin: Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox ~ in honor of Franking being born in December
- Billy by Albert French ~ in honor of Mississippi becoming a state in December
- Apples are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins ~ in honor of Kazakhstan gaining its independence in December.
In an attempt to finish some “series” I read:
- Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, Vol 3 by Giorgio Vasari (only one more to go after this, yay!)
- Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
For audio here’s what I listened to:
- The Galton Case by Ross MacDonald ~ this was laugh-out-loud funny
- Bellwether by Connie Willis ~ in honor of December being Willis’s birth month
For the Early Review Program with LibraryThing here’s what I read:
- Drinking with Men: a Memoir by Rosie Schaap
And here’s what I started:
- Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws
For fun: Natalie Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep.
Schiavone, Michael. Call Me When You Land. New York: Permanent Press, 2011.
If Nancy Pearl had to categorize this book for one of the chapters in Book Lust this would easily fit into either her “Families in Trouble” or “First Novel” chapter. If she had to categorize this book as a selection in More Book Lust it could easily fit into her “Men Channeling Women” chapter. First, there’s Katie Olmstead. Alcoholic, artist, single mother slowly losing her grip on reality. Then there’s Katie’s reality, C.J., the angst-ridden son. C.J. is uncommunicative, lonely and lost. Finally, there’s great-uncle Walter. Coughing up blood, stoned, patient and pathetic. Parsing out words of wisdom to said mother and son while quietly raging against his own frailty. Spoiler: he disappears from the story halfway through; a disappointment because he was the glue that held mother and son together.
All of these characters fit an eye-rolling stereotypical mold. Katie, in a spurt of mothering, makes her son breakfast. C.J. isn’t used to seeing his mom awake much less standing at that hour is skeptical and more than a little suspicious. Their dialogue is full of cliche zingers like, “what’s your deal this morning?” and “I’m not poisoning you.” Character development is minimal. People like Peter and Caroline pop up without introduction. There is a lot of backtracking to fill in the blanks.
To be honest I read this book like it reads: in fits and starts. It wasn’t the kind of book I could read for hours on end without coming up for air. I was beyond frustrated by all the name brand products. Aquafina, Alka-Seltzer, Aleve, Advil, Best Buy, Barolo, Benadryl, Ben & Jerry’s, Coors, Claratin, Cabernet, Capri Sun, Chips Ahoy, Clearasil, Dunkin Donuts, Disney, Dewars, Diet Coke, Dairy Queen, Desitin, Dolce & Gabbana, Emergen-C, Eggos, Febreze, Fruit Rollup, Gap, Gatorade, Grand Marnier, Halo 3, Hydroxycut, Hot Pocket, iPhone, J. Crew, Joy, Keds, Kools, Kleenex, Liz Claiborne, Mountain Dew, McDonalds, Marc Jacobs, Odwalla, Pepsi, Pellogrino, Palmolive, Prozac, Ray-Bans, Ritalin, Rockstar, Rice-a-Roni, Ragu, StairMaster, Starbucks, Sprite, Snuggie, Shiraz, Splenda, SeaWorld, Timberland, Tylenol, Trader Joe’s, Target, Tag, Tuff, Tropicana, Tanquerey, Under Armour, Visine, Vasaline. I know I could list a dozen more. If this were a movie the product placement would be nauseating. Writing should be timeless. If the products aren’t around ten years from now the piece becomes dated and clunky. There is the danger of alienating the reader as well. Not everyone will know what Halo 3 or Rockstar is. Something gets lost in translation when the product is the punchline to a funny line.
What I liked best about Call Me When You Land is the potential for a happy ending. The promise of change is hanging in the air. Differences are happening and that’s all that matters.