A Writer's Closet

Welcome to the weird flotsam of a writer's mind . . .

Location: Southern California

Friday, November 25, 2005

It takes a village. . .

It took me nine years of motherhood but I finally understand the saying "It takes a village to raise a child." I was at the movies with my son and a mature lady with a small boy, maybe four years old, sat next to us. I assumed she was grandma. During the film the boy needed to go to the bathroom and without even looking at him she said, "Go on, just follow the exit signs."

Now, my son is nine and I have a problem letting him out of my sight in a public place. This poor child went to the end of the ramp, looked around in bewilderment, then promptly went out the exit door to the street. Grandma never looked at him once. I leaned over and barked, "Ma'am, your child just went outside." To her credit she jumped up immediately and brought him back in, but if I hadn't warned her she'd have had no idea where he was.

I've often wondered if I should lighten up a little with my son, then I see what happens in the world. Many accidents are simply tragic but when I see a completely innattentive adult, my blood boils. This is how kids get kidnapped and killed and it is absolutely preventable.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good In Bed--A book review

Good In Bed, Jennifer Weiner's first novel, covers a year in the life of Candace "Cannie" Shapiro, a pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner, and starts off with a delicious roar. Cannie's best friend Samantha gives her a head's up that her ex-boyfriend Bruce has written a column called "Loving A Larger Woman." He's shortened her name to "C." in a passing attempt at anonimity, but anyone who knows Cannie or Bruce immediately knows she it's about her and she's publically humiliated in a national magazine. Cannie's initially reaction is homicidal fury, but after reading the full article Bruce has written about her, she sinks into deep despair over relationship regrets and her life goes downhill fast.

Sympathizing with Cannie is a guilty pleasure in the beginning of the book. She's acting whiny and pathetic, but she knows it, hates herself for it, and is still unable to pull herself out of it. There is an almost voyeuristic quality to this part of the novel as Weiner captures the agony of breakups, the self-doubt, second guessing the decision to split, pouring through endless "what if" scenarios. Adding to the calamity are Cannie's recently gay mother, her creepy siblings, and her new endevor to participate in a trial study at a weight and eating disorders clinic. Also prominent in her life is Nifkin, her "weird little dog." Cannie bounces back and forth between fury over the humiliation and anguish that she has passed on the one man who may have loved her forever for who she was.

Weiner treads on dangerous ground in the middle of the book as Cannie has a number of things happen to her which strains the story's previous realism and credibility, which is what makes Cannie so appealing in the first place. The novel deviates from that and becomes a little formulamatic, less real and engaging. Satisfying though the events are, the middle of the novel requires a heavy dose of suspension of disbelief.

In the end Good In Bed suffers from an identity crisis. One moment it is frothy and funny, and sardonic one liners abound, the next almost too painful to read as Cannie goes through her excrucating emotional turmoil. Weiner can't seem to make up her mind what kind of novel she wanted to write. Fortunately that is one of the reasons why the book works, but it's a dicey gamble in places. Good In Bed is like having lowfat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream--tasty while it's going down but not quite satisfying enough for what I really wanted. I would classify Good In Bed as a light beach read, quick enjoyment taken with a grain of salt.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Jurassic Croc

Dinosaur obsession is typically a boy thing but I went through it as a child and I still love a good dino flick or story. Paleontologists are like the CSI team of ancient earth, the way they piece together a picture of what the world was like, with a healthy dose of educated guesses. Fantasy that was at one time perfectly real, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

I still love reading about new discoveries like this fossil of a relative of the marine crocodile. The 13 foot long monster was uncovered in Patagonia and lives again thanks to digitized flesh added. With four inch long teeth and presumably the agility of a crocodile, I'll bet it would have made sushi rolls out of the nastiest great white. That's a smackdown I'd love to see.