Books


Sometimes individual things add up to form a light-shedding, bigger picture.  Sometimes it is not a pretty one, and sometimes it is deceptively pretty, which is not to say that either may be accurate.  No, wait, come back!  I promise, I am going somewhere with this, Your Honor.

I have a Blackberry, which I regularly use as a mental scribbling pad or an electronic ribbon-around-the-finger to remind me to do stuff.  It is better than a ribbon, because it vibrates and blinks and when I pull it out of its little leather case, it says things to me, like:  (19:00) MILK, or (21:00) Client meeting tmmw – IRON/GO TO BED, or (10:30) SandPOW.  These are all recent reminders that Past Tailfeather sent myself at various points.  The first, clearly, was to remind myself to pick up some milk on the way home from work.  The second was to remind myself not to stay up until midnight drinking wine and watching Community on the internet but to, instead, pluck the least crumpled blouse out of my wardrobe and pass out at 11:00 pm after forgetting to call my mother.  The third, sadly, I have stared at for the last three weeks as a saved reminder in my Outlook calendar and still have no idea to what it pertains.  I have a friend nicknamed Sandy, but what is POW?  I refuse to delete it until I figure it out.  It is like a riddle of my own creation.

This Blackberry is a company-owned one, which is another reason I tend to keep my non-work-related reminders cryptic.  This is why one might enter “RX,” for example, instead of “pick up yeast infect meds.”  Also, it is catchier.  So with both work and personal reminders, I sometimes find myself making lists that grow throughout the day.  A work example would be if I have several clients or contacts to call in Southeast Asia.  As I sort through them the day before, my 9:00 am reminder grows from:  (9:00) Call Client X, to (9:00) Call Client X, Provider Y, Client D, Contact A, Contact C.  And then I know to start calling those people early in the day so I can spend my morning sweet-talking them.  Likewise, a personal errand list might grow from: (18:30) Nails, to (18:30) Nails, shower gel, toothpicks, sea bass, SORT RECYCLING.

Those items on my last example list are not related.  Like, that is at least two stops, if not three, plus home from there, as I do not professionally sort recycling or get my nails done at a place where I can also buy seafood.  And yet if you were a television detective trying to solve my murder by reviewing my planner, you might be confuddled.   “Let’s just go to Soho,” you would say wearily.  “It must be some underground perv thing.  Or drugs.  Shower Gel is a big thing now, right?  Oh, sorry, yeah.  That’s Bath Salts.” (more…)

break-up

From Wednesday’s The Writer’s Almanac, “Letter of Resignation” by William Baer from Bocage and Other Sonnets (© Texas Review Press, 2008):

Dear [blank]: After much deliberation,
without qualm, scruple, or further delay,
I hereby tender my formal resignation
as your lover and future fiancé.
The job provides too little satisfaction:
too many hours of unneeded duress,
a paucity of productive interaction,
uncertain working conditions, and endless stress.
Pay-wise, I’m undervalued and disenchanted:
advancement’s slow, the bonus is routine,
my “on-call” overtime is taken for granted,
and benefits are few and far between.
This document, I’m hopeful, underscores
my deep regret. I’m very truly yours….

 

starlingsI read Nina de Gramont’s Gossip of the Starlings on Sunday in a leisurely four or five hours, and strongly recommend it as a satisfying, lazy weekend read.  The comparisons to Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep are inevitable, since Prep shot to glory as such an eponymous pinnacle of prep school novels in 2005, but I enjoyed Starlings a great deal more.   I haven’t read Prep since it first came out and, indeed, recall reading it in almost one sitting, but have never revisited it due to my lingering frustration at central character Lee’s extreme passiveness and unwillingness to participate in her own life.  That said, it was a very well-written and clearly memorable novel, and Sittenfeld’s talent is not in question.

De Gramont’s Gossip of the Starlings takes place in 1980s northeastern prep school and aside from a few minor details (such as the school’s permissiveness with regard to students hitchhiking to town and the political structure of the Reagan years), could easily take place in any decade since.  The story concerns Catherine Morrow’s transfer to an elite girls’ school after her parents pull her out of her co-ed prep school when she is caught in bed with her boyfriend, John Paul.  Banished to Esther Percy School, Catherine is sought out for friendship by the luminous, famous Skye Butterfield, daughter of a popular Democratic senator.  Skye has been expelled from her own previous schools on account of her protest against a plutonium manufacturing site and because she was caught writing papers for a scholarship student.

But Skye’s seeming wholesomeness is begging for corruption, and she seeks out Catherine as a minister.  Starting from the first chapter, when Catherine and Skye snort cocaine in Catherine’s room and swear to tell each other about the afterlife when one of them dies first, the novel is imbued with a sense of dread countered by the timeless teenage conceit of immortality.  It reminded me, pleasantly, of Donn Tartt’s The Secret History, one of my favorite books, and captures a similar aura of freewheeling doom and contradictory, simultaneous adolescent certainty that this sparkling era will remain forever untouched.    (more…)

I know that reviewing books isn’t really my thing here on BCP. However, nothing really exciting is happening in the world of makeup, and I wouldn’t feel like writing about it anyway even if there were. But, by all means, if you have any questions about makeup or skincare email them to Buttercuppunch at gmail. Questions, I can surely work with. Anyway, I kind of feel like discussing a book I read during my honeymoon. I realize I’m not being very timely about it, seeing as how I shelved this book in November. I guess I just didn’t really realize how much this book bothered me, how much I haaaaaated it, until I heard someone who was about 100 pages in recommend this bound volume of Charmin to someone else. At that moment I kind of broke out into a cold sweat, realizing that I, too, suggested someone read it before I was deep enough in to smell the toilet for the shit. **** Please note that this is just one reader’s opinion, and if you thought differently about this book or any of the points I’m about to make, please don’t take offence. It’s nothing personal to you, and there is no way that my lack of enthusiasm towards this title will diminish your enjoyment of it. Please note also, that I deeply resent having to write such a disclaimer on my own fucking blog, but I’m just kind of over the recent rash of piss-whiney comments on my posts. If you don’t like what I have to say, don’t fucking read it, and don’t waste your precious time telling me about it, OK? Because I don’t really care. If you want to whine inanely into a comment box, Jezebel.com is always there for you, my friend. ****

 

The book in question is none other than the Oprah-approved, chick-lit-in-sci-fi-clothing, torrent-of-knockoffs-inducing first novel by Audrey Niffenegger:

 

the_time_travelers_wife-119187270483036

 

***** OK, here’s where I start disclaiming in earnest. This review is intended to be a few things from the get-go: 1. A chance for folks who have already read this book to discuss it. 2. A mild warning to people who have heard of this book, were probably never going to read it anyway, but this review will surely put them over the edge. 3. Entertainment for people who really don’t give a crap either way. The following review is surely NOT, however, intended for folks who really want to read this book and don’t want any of it to be spoiled for them. Basically, EVERYTHING AFTER THE JUMP IS A SPOILER!! SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILS!!! If you don’t want this book spoiled for you, do not read this post. AGAIN, if you read this review anyway, and I broke your Oprah’s Book Club boner and shattered your life and kicked your puppy (because your puppy was probably a whiney little bitch anyway), it’s been established that I warned your ass. Any bitching about spoileration in the comments will be deleted, because I’m on the warpath, whores, this is my playground and I do not suffer triflin’ fools pissing on my goddamn see-saw. Fuck. ***** (more…)

trashbookI’m a reader by nature, and have always counted myself fortunate to grow up in a home surrounded by thousands of books.  My parents are both readers as well, and my mother in particular is a voracious consumer.  Besides the handsomely bound classics lining the floor to ceiling shelves of the family room, I doubt there’s any genre unrepresented in our household, from biographies to bodice-rippers to sci-fi to comics.  Books are stacked haphazardly on every spare surface, and the unused bedroom is a repository of shopping bags filled with books to be resold or donated to the library.

I filled a spare suitcase with most of the approximately thirty books I received as gifts for Christmas when I returned to the UK, happily paying an additional hundred dollars to lug them back to my apartment.  Even then, one of the first things I did this weekend, my first back, is walk to a used bookstore in Soho to stockpile more treasure, and then spent the rest of the day in bed happily working my way through two of my new novels.  In short, there are few things in the world I would rather do than read, and I am a proud book junkie.

Which is why it’s worse than a disappointment, more of a slap in the face, to have selected a book, dedicated your time to it, only to discover halfway through that your book is complete rubbish.  It’s an insult to booklovers and as we all know, there is a lot of drivel out there.  When I open a book, I am placing myself in the hands of that author (and hopefully that editor), trusting them to provide me with the escapism, amusement, and enlightenment I’ve paid for.  I enter into this relationship respectfully; I cradle the book, I give it my love, and I expect to be treated well in return.  And when a book lets me down, my reaction is outraged.  It’s like shaving your legs and getting excited about a Friday night first date, only to have your dinner partner turn out to be a bore and a Holocaust denier.  You’re pissed off to have your time wasted on a product that was not as advertised. (more…)

Seeing as how so many of Buttercup’s friends (Sigourney Fever, TeenageGangDeb, SparklePretty, DamageNoted) are librarians, I thought it’d be a nice Halloween treat to pass along the American Library Association’s annual list of haunted libraries! I’m beginning to suspect that there’s a reason why the first scene in Ghostbusters was set in a library, man…

You can read them all here at the Britannica Blog.

Share your tales of spine-tingling (omg, book pun!) haunted library experiences in the comments!