snarkety snarkety snark

If the fact the Romantic Novelists' Association has a short list for romantic novel of the year isn't enough to make you roll your eyes, the fact there is an organization out there that takes Cecilia Ahern seriously as a writer should.


sell-outs anonymous


I'm Trish.

And I've been reading He's Just Not That Into You.

(I've also been listening to Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music a lot lately. But that's a problem for another day. Katy Perry's Hot N Cold, too. I think I'm just developing bad taste.)

Okay, I should backtrack. I am still making my way far too slowly through Down and Out in Paris and London.

But there was a whole rack of He's Just Not That Into You (subhead: "The no-excuses truth to understanding guys") at the bookstore. Complete with cover pictures of shiny-faced Drew Barrymore and unabashedly happy Jennifer Aniston (clearly in character, not being asked questions about Angelina Jolie) and gorgeous Bradley Cooper (who, I'm sure, will be the bad guy in the movie).

The book represents lots of things I hate. Like, books with movie covers. And books Oprah Winfrey loves. And, well, self-helpishness. Or maybe dating guide-iness? I'm on page 152 and I'm not sure if it's more dating how-to or life how-to.... I told my friend A. that I was reading the book ironically. You know, as a nod to popular culture.

"I don't buy it, not sure if anyone else will," he messaged.

"You don't buy it because you know me," I retorted. All smart-like.

So.... I realized at some point I've gone out with a lot of the guys in this book. Sometimes one guy could even be like three guys in this book, which says so much about my taste. (This is a very sad state of affairs.) But I suppose this is why women buy into these books. Because it makes us feel better to know we're not the only ones stupid enough to fall for Very Obvious Bad Habits.

And on one hand, the whole nature of the book -- the humour, the tough talk, the constant "you go girl!" stuff -- is sort of freeing. Things go bad? He's just not that into you. Done. Free. You win. (Well, you lose. But win in the long run. Yay!)

On the other hand.... This is a book about marriage.

Let's look at p. 79, the start of the chapter, "He's just not that into you if he doesn't want to marry you (love cures commitment phobia)."

*cough* Bullshit! *cough*

Okay: "Just remember this. Every man you have ever dated who has said he doesn't want to get married or doesn't believe in marriage, or has 'issues' with marriage, will, rest assured, someday be married. It just will never be with you. Because he's not really saying he doesn't want to get married. He's saying he doesn't want to get married to you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married. You shouldn't feel ashamed, needy, or 'unliberated' for wanting that. So make sure from the start that you pick a guy who shares your views for the future, and if not, move on as quickly as you can. Big plans require big action."

Gah. Okay. In fairness, I kind of see where the authors are going here. It's not really all that different from saying if he doesn't want to be your boyfriend, he's not that into you. Gotcha.

But it super -- super -- assumes the girl reading this book wants to get married. Like, now. (Where is the.... cultural touchstone.... that deals with girls who don't know what they want? The ones who don't want to get married, either? At least not now? Where's that pop culture book with a one-liner for a title ripped off of Sex and the City? Hm?)

Okay, done confused rant. But will leave you with this:

"Hey -- do you remember that movie when the girl waited around for the guy to ask her out, then made excuses when he didn't? Then she slept with him when they were both drunk, and basically just hung around until they were kind of dating? Then he cheated on her, but because she knew deep down inside that if she forgave him and kept her expectations low and was really agreeable, she'd get him in the end? He was drunk at the wedding, but they lived miserably ever after in an unsatisfying relationship that was built on a shitty foundation? You don't? That's because those movies don't get made, because that's not what love is like. People are inspired to do remarkable things to find and be with the one they love. Big movies are made about it, and every relationship you admire bursts with a greatness that you hope for in your own life." (p. 8)

Clearly the authors never watched The Way We Were. Who wouldn't have waited around for Robert Redford? Come on, Hubbell?

I have learned nothing from this book.


these echoes

Lately I've been talking so much about "social media" -- spending so many hours "tweeting" and "blogging" and "Facebooking" -- that I find myself narrating everything.

"Trish hates the taste of chocolate milk gone bad."

"Trish worries about bicycle couriers when it's -40C."

Seriously. It's the grossest thing. And it starts as soon as I get up -- "Trish should learn to get up when her alarm rings, not hit the snooze button 17 times" -- and does not end until I go back to sleep at the end of the day -- "Trish got sucked into YouTube again. I heart you, Rick Mercer."

So. Is this technology's fault?

Not so much, I know. Technology is just a tool for me to be more self-centred. And I'm probably not the only one.

So I try to unplug (she says as she writes to an online audience of friends&family). And I try to turn off my brain. And I find a bizarre amount of relief in this excerpt from Happenstance*, which was written 30 years ago.

"He often wished he could shut them off, these buzzing thoughts -- why was it he could never do anything, never even think of doing something, without playing at doing it; there was something despicable in his small rehearsals and considered responses; was he the only one in the world who suffered these echoes?" (p. 155)

*BTW, TSS, I read the wife's story in Happenstance first, and am now nearly done the husband's. It looks like this was technically the wrong way to go, as the two novels were initially published separately. The Husband's Story came out in 1980 and A Fairly Conventional Woman in 1982.


Slumdog Millionaire?


Sorry, were you watching the Golden Globes Sunday night? Wow. Beautiful movie, but call me completely surprised. ("Hello, Completely Surprised. Nice to meet you." Boo.) I'm glad of the win, though -- I thought the film was so very full and colourful, and it made my heart swell.

Moving on.... I've been slowly making my way through Happenstance, while at the same time working my way through some really fascinating stuff. Like, Alberta's interim report on carbon capture. Also, the province's bill on the delivery of emergency medicine.

And you wonder how I manage to catch up on my sleep these days....

But I'm taking a break from Carol Shields' prize-winning work, even though it's such matters of the heart I enjoy reading most. I love examining the magic and heartbreak of private lives, the greater confusion and misunderstanding that lies within inner assumptions and monologues.

A new year -- I'll get to resolutions later -- brings with it new book club meetings. And so, I am struggling through George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.

I'm sorry to say that, 63 pages in, the book makes me cringe, and I find myself skimming even if the prose is all good and Orwellian. I know it's supposed to be good journalism, and more importantly it is good writing. However, that's hardly offset by the fact it sounds like the 1920s version of a punk 25-year-old who's just discovered his adventure on the dark side of society might be, well, dark.

(I'm a jerk, I know. I feel sorry saying all this particularly because we're all friends at book club, and I hate hating the selections. I feel bad offending people. So, I hide my identify and publish my hateful opinions on the internet like a good little 21st century-er.)

Example A:

"The Paris slums are a gathering-place for eccentric people -- people who have fallen into solitary, half-mad grooves of life and given up trying to be normal or decent. Poverty frees them from ordinary standards of behaviour, just as money frees people from work." (p. 7)

Gah. I want to reach through the pages and shake the young, bourgeois, pretentious Orwell. "Give me a break!" I would cry, "Get on with writing Animal Farm!"

Example B:

"You discover the boredom which is inseparable from poverty; the times when you have nothing to do and, being underfed, can interest yourself in nothing. For half a day at a time you lie on your bed, feeling like the jeune squelette in Baudelaire's poem. Only food could rouse you. You discover that a man who has gone even a week on bread and margarine is not a man any longer, only a belly with a few accessory organs." (p. 17)


At least we'll all have something to talk about.

Like the fact I'm becoming a pirate in my protestations.