Friday, October 12, 2018

More Jackie (Please Don't Judge) and Some Good Old Public Shaming

I picked up Parker Posey's memoir, You're On an Airplane, and boy was it light. To say it didn't meet expectations might suggest I had ones for it. Even so, I felt disappointed. I was annoyed by the concept - including witty asides to flight attendants, as if you really were stuck on an airplane with Parker Posey. More annoying were the irrelevant summaries of things like Ayurveda and Ashtanga yoga. I guess I had hoped for surprisingly elegant prose, or cool and subversive collages. Instead, the collages were pretty silly and Posey's stories about movies fell flat. She also glossed over accusations against Woody Allen, calling Dylan Farrow's open letter about being sexually assaulted by Allen "the news" that came out in the papers that day. But her account of working with Louis C.K. was fascinating, and I appreciated her documenting his pathos. (She never went into any accusations about him, either.) 

On a related note, perhaps, Tim brought home a book called So You've Been Publicly Shamed, about the modern-day stonings that occur on Twitter whenever someone missteps - grossly or subtly - in a public way. I picked up the book, meaning only to glance at it, and spent the next few hours reading. The writing was addictive, the topic was on point, and it got weird sometimes, in a good way. I recommend it.


I also checked out a book called Jackie Ethel Joan: Women of Camelot and stuck with it, despite my reservations about 1) going too far down a Kennedy rabbit hole and 2) the fascinating and jarring prose. I read it at the suggestion of a friend who read my last post about Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, a wonderful biography written by Barbara Leaming that now looks incredible, and feminist, and necessary, compared to Jackie Ethel Joan, which came out in 2000. Jackie Ethel Joan tracks the lives of three Kennedy wives - married to Jack, Bobby, and Ted, respectively - and what can I say? Despite its generous warmth, and its compassion while pulling back the curtain on the egregious infidelity all three wives endured at the hands of their philandering husbands, it just felt written by a man to me. 

One line in particular jarred me when I read it, about Joan Kennedy experiencing a miscarriage:

"Shortly after nightfall, Joan felt a sharp abdominal pain, the kind all pregnant women fear." 

It just felt weird reading that statement.  Like, how many times has he been pregnant? How many women did he poll before writing that?  As fraught as pregnancies can be (and were for the Kennedy women), and as much anxiety as I had about the impending births of my children, I don't think it's fair to say that's a universal fear for all women.  Maybe he meant for those who had miscarried before, as Joan had.
ANYWAY.  I feel guilty criticizing any book because writing one is no joke.  Hats off to all authors, period, the end. 

And, hats off to this guy, huh?  He knows what being a red panda is ALL ABOUT.  (The fans, obvi.) 

Speaking of authors I admire, Tim has a story out at Puerto Del Sol.  It's called Cakewalk, and its about small town festivals, New Age kooks, and a giant statue of Paul Bunyan.  **Insert Blue Ox emoji here.**  (He also has a story called Mars Renaissance: 8 Things a Man Should Know How to Do at New Limestone Review, which I just remembered when I put up that picture of the sign on the men's bathroom, naturally.)

I also checked out a book called The Children by Ann Leary, who wrote my favorite Modern Love column of all time, but I haven't gotten The Children yet. Leary wrote a book called The Good House, which I LOVED, and is incidentally the wife of the actor Denis Leary, who was good in the movie version of Jesus' Son. (Billy Crudup slayed in Jesus' Son, too, obviously, but I am still reeling from the fact that Crudup left his longtime partner Mary-Louise Parker ten years ago, when she was seven months pregnant. And for Claire Danes. YIKES.)

On the topic of celebrity gossip, I finally subscribed to Homophilia, a podcast by Matt McConkey and Dave Holmes, whose memoir Party of One I wrote about here and here after it blew my mind. Homophilia is funny, snappy, heartfelt, and full of pop culture, and I am into it lately. 

 Our littlest baby is walking now, and his cheerful shuffles around the house take my breath away. He says "Awwwwww" when he gives hugs, and he eats hotdogs way too often. He thinks my print of a crane should bark (and who's to say it shouldn't?) and we call him the Tax Man because if anyone in the room has a snack, he all but yells "pay up!" and motions for a bite. For now, I admire his confidence and, as Anthony Hopkins says of the Samuel character, the youngest brother in Legends of the Fall, "He certainly was the best of all of us." (Or something like that.)

Happy fall!  Get thee to the cider mill.


  1. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one feeling anxious about all these guys. I'd like to think they're the exceptions, although more & more I'm not so sure. And comments other men (Jason Bateman, Matt Damon) make in defense are even more troubling.
    I wish I still had young kids to fill my hours so that the awful mess of the past two years would not affect me so.
    Just read Idaho, From a Low and Quiet Sea & Small Animals. First two were really good, but dark. The third helped me to see that raising kids is so different today.
    Looking for something light, something funny, something to take me away.

  2. Oh yes, I agree - I don't think they're exceptions at all, sadly. And I was so troubled by that interview with the Arrested Development cast defending Jeffry Tambor, too. Jason Bateman was a favorite of mine; it's all big and unwieldy, but so essential to examine. It's true that small children are a magnet to presence - their company is so healing to me. What a gorgeous title is From a Low and Quiet Sea! For a light read, have you ever read Ann Patchett's essays This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage? Also, I'm revisiting Party of One right now, by Dave Holmes, which I talk too much about but seriously makes me laugh out loud. My library copy was still dog-eared from the last time I checked it out, when I cried I laughed so hard. I love a good music/pop-culture romp. Steve Almond's Candyfreak is light and fun, but it will make you go out and buy trashy chocolate. I also liked Almond's novel written with Julianna Baggot, Which Brings Me to You, and Julianna's first novel, Girl Talk, remains one of my favorites. Good luck!


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