Follow on Bloglovin
Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:
Search The Girl Who
« The Rambling Maple Street Witch Chase Blues. | Main | The Department Of Her Heart. »

You Can't Fight At Gettysburg High On Pot.

Sometimes I just stand there and stare at our books over in the corner. We took them off the shelves and then the shelves fell apart like rice paper. Those ones you get at Kmart only survive being dragged around so long. Then, they crumble into dust. Anyway we took them down so Violet wouldn't get to pawing at a colorful binding and pull the whole damn disaster down on top of her. So, I end up glaring at a whole corner full of books about knee high.

Ever since I was a kid and McDonald's had this giveaway for super-edited special McNerdy editions of The Wizard of Oz and Tom Sawyer and a couple others, I've never been without some gargantuan stacks of paperbacks that I drag through my life with me. From my bedrooms to my Mom's attic to apartments in cities all over the damn place, it was easy to leave trash bags filled with clothes and sneaks out by the curb. But, the books must ride along. On airplanes across the ocean I live in fear of being stuck on some interminable tarmac, in some time-warp of a delay. So, the backpack I stuff under the seat eleven inches in front of me is usually full of candy, scattered good luck charms I need for survival should we plunge into the Atlantic off the Icelandic coast, and like four or five freakin' books where one would be fine. I just never know what mood I might be in when I'm up there speeding across the night galaxy.

I like books. They've helped me learn sure. And relate to the world and all. Blahblahblah. But they also helped me quit smokin' weed. About a hundred pages into The Killer Angels I realized that I had so much THC gumming up my works that I was just lying there under the covers reading the same fucking three sentences over and over again. General Pickett on a Groundhog Day loop, hopping up on his goddamn horse so many times in a row that in all seriousness...the war might've passed him right by had I smoked maybe one or two more bowls. After that, I just said the hell with it. I like books better than grass. And I like getting to the end of a page inside of two hours.

So. Me and Monica have been doing our self-inflicted book club. Here's how that goes.

We order one copy of a book and both read it at the same time. The book gets left on the coffee table or the back of the toilet or somewhere like that. Somewhere easy to find it. Sometimes after she's had it last, I'll see a new crease or ripple in the cover or I'll stumble on a hot sauce smear deep in the story. It pisses me off too. We each have our own book mark: mine is laminated cardboard with an antelope in tall dry grass on it. Monica's is a three inch thick 3-D puffy actual invitation to a baby shower or some shit. It is oversize and just ridiculous. In the spirit of our family there are two constants in our Book Club:

1) We move the other person's bookmark around when reading and then forget what page it was on so we just stick it anywhere back there.

2). We never bother to discuss the book before we've read it. Or while we're reading it. Or when we're finished it.

It's a good club. There's very little bullshit.

Here's some stuff I've been reading. After you skim over it, give me some ideas as to what you've been looking at. Especially if its a novel. That's where my head is at.

SKELLIG by David Almond. A story aimed at a teenage audience, but still. A kid whose baby sister is very ill finds an angel out in his family's dank garage. I thought it was a mesmerizing premise and guess what: it is. There's been a movie made of this I think.

JULIET,NAKED by Nick Hornby. Sometimes I start certain novels and get sucked in fast and just want to eat the pages. I devoured this probably about as fast as a slow-ass reader like me can go. Its a hilarious and somewhat romantic look at the modern world of music fans and their sense of proprietorship with the songs/artists they love. Plus, there is a fantastic glimpse at the dysfunctional side of love.

HOW I BECAME A FAMOUS NOVELIST by Steve Hely. The world of big-selling novels spun on it's ass. Hysterical, spit-your-coffee-out-your-nose funny. Laughed out loud nearly every page. There's a moral too, ironically enough. This fellow writes for 30 Rock now.

AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld. I am almost done this one so I feel comfortable saying that it is superb. The story of a Presidential First Lady, her true self, and the woman she needs to be to make things work. Based on the life of Laura Bush...who turns out to be a fairly captivating woman. Who knew?

TV wise....we're watching DEADWOOD, you cocksuckers!

Reader Comments (19)

i read Fingersmith(s) by Sarah Waters because it's the book our heroine brings to the hospital in Juliet, Naked. It's stay-up-all-night great. NOw I'reading Tipping the Velvet--her first book and it too makes me want to shoot the husband, kids and dogs so they'll shut up and let me read.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I am reading this one book A LOT. It's called "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." Maybe you've heard about it? It kills every time.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWife?

Incredible use of language.
Milch even had me with "John From Cincy," too. That was one far-out freak-fuck-fest.
That said, Al Swearingin (Woo: SWYNGIN!!!), is television's greatest, most complex character.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

getting cold and dark. just today i heard myself thinking "bout time to start Great Expectations" :)

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterXmastime

We each read what we wish and usually talk about our choices afterward, often reading what the other has just finished. The one "rule" we have, since our home is overflowing with books, is that for every book we buy we give an old one away. Right now we're donating them to a local life-care complex where the residents are trying to build-up their library. There are some books we'll never give away as they're candidates to be reread, but so many books can bring pleasure to others who've never read them.

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. An absolutely hysterical farce with a creamy golden center. And it's about a daddy and his little girl.

Anything else by Christopher Moore, also superb.

Ahab's Wife; or The Star-gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund. A novel so powerful, it still gives me bizarre dreams.

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterknighton

I just finished "American Wife" and enjoyed it as well. I'm now undertaking "Les Miserables" because I always promised myself I would read it. I'm dying to read "Juliet, Naked" but am waiting for the paperback. Also recently read "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri which was very good.

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhockeychic

We went to a Nick Hornby pre-launch reading of Juliet, Naked, and he only went and gave away too much of the plot (if you could call it a 'plot'). I wanted to block my ears and go "La, La, La", so I couldn't hear, but I was sitting right at the front, not 4 feet from Nick, so that was kind of a 'No, no'. Great evening though.
I like chef autobiographies, (probably because I like food and because Paul is always picking them up at Oxfam) and currently have 'Raw' by AWT. Can't get into it though. Probably, because i don't like his food. Or him.

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

reading the collected works of kafka and a neal cassady bio...have you ever read "cold mountain"? much better than the movie...maybe give that one a's about the civil war and is right up your alley

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertrichards848

South of the border, West of the sun = Haruki Murakami. Awesome!

I am from Iceland, And if you would plunge into the Atlantic off the Icelandic coast, I can tell you there are bookstores here. In one of em I read the Article in Esquire.


October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Yeah, I loved Cold Mountain. Anyone read his second novel? It didn't set the world on fire, but following the supernova of PR that was his would be tough.

Whats up Iceland? I always wanted to come there. Still do. One of these days...

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSerge

Oh yeah...I really like what I have read of Murakami. Just Norwegian Wood, so far. That is a fabulous book. Sadly gorgeous. I will check out the one you mentioned.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSerge

Reading Simon Winchester's "A Crack In the Edge of the World." Topic is 1906 San Fran quake but topic is plate tectonics and how, in the long run, we're all f'ed. Good, compelling and scary read. Those plates are and will keep on moving, till Maryland is re-attached to Africa and my house is subsumed into the Atlantic. Also, recommend his other books "Professor and the Madman" about writing of Oxford Dictionary, etc.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfellowdad

Just finished Faulkner's "Absalom, Absalom!". It took me awhile to get into, but was really great in the end. I'm actually taking a class that is all William Faulkner. I'd never read anything by him prior to this class, aside from a couple of short stories. Cormac McCarthy is often compared to Faulkner, though, and I'm a huge fan of his work.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Ooh, you guys ought to pick up Murakami's "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle." Great stuff. Wanted to also pass along John Dufresne. I started with "Louisiana Power and Light" and then "Love Warps the Mind A Little." Just picked up his latest, "Requiem, Mass." Haven't gotten to it yet. It's dark but beautiful. Rick Moody also comes to mind...I swear he wrote the book that "Garden State" was based on, and it's not even his best.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I just read Michael Chabon's first novel, Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and I highly recommend The Yiddish Policeman's Union by him, which was the most fun reading I've had in a long time.

I just finished Killer Angels too -- don't know why it took me so long to pick it up. I think you'd really like Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong, a great WWI novel.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSelena

"From Here To Eternity" knocks my socks off every time I read it.
I also love William Styron and Cormac McCarthy.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I just read Jon Krakauer's book about Pat Tillman, Where Men Win Glory. It is fantastic.

Try some James Ellroy. The movies made from his books (LA Confidential and The Black Dahlia) do not come close to the scope of his novels. The books are painted on a much broader canvas than a two hour film can cover

October 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSean

Skellig - the film was a Sky1 Easter special in 2009 - it stared Tim Roth. It was really very good. Tim Roth is always work watching although he normally just tries to be a spivy cockney!

We listen to a lot of story tapes in the car with our kids, we have recently listened to David Almond's (the author of Skellig) beautiful book called The Fire Eaters, it is in a similar vein to Skellig, but set in 50's Britan during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is worth a read.

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervisky from UK

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>