Sunday, September 19, 2021

Mid-September, 2021: Way Late To The Office Party

 A few days ago, I became acquainted with the concept of "batch blogging". It's like "batch cooking", but with blogs. Apparently, it's a thing. Apparently, closer to home, The Spawn does it with his comic book blog. Now I feel as if there is a lack in me because I can't squeeze out multiple posts at one sitting to be scheduled at tidy intervals. Just getting one blog entry out is like warring with the last smears of toothpaste at the end of the tube. Is it because I have nothing to say? No, of course not. I am intrigued, and think I might try out the concept with a mini-post. Okay, enough with all this throat-clearing!

What I Read:

Who Was Frida Kahlo? - Sarah Fabiny. Biography. Kahlo figures prominently in my current audiobook, The Lacuna, so I wanted to read more about her. Fabiny paints a portrait of Kahlo that is as rich and emotional as Frida's art. She does a great job of discussing the symbolism in Kahlo's paintings, and is candid about Frida's health and relationship struggles. The illustrations by Jerry Hoare give this volume in the series an added richness and cohesiveness. So glad I bought this!

What I DNFed:

What She Ate - Laura Shapiro. Nonfiction. This was such a clever idea, combining women's lives with the food they ate, but it just didn't come together for me. I read three out of the six profiles: Dorothy Wordsworth, Helen Gurley Brown, and Barbara Pym. I struggled to the finish with Pym, and decided to take What She Ate off the table. I like the concept and can't stop thinking about it. I wonder if there is some way someone else could give this idea a try.

What I'm reading:

American Cheese - Joe Berkowitz. Nonfiction. I'm not very far along yet, but enjoying every cheese-filled reference. Joe B. has just had his Eureka! moment at the fancy cheese-tasting, and now he's branched out into making his own cheese at home with mixed results: So-so, needs improvement and distinctly horrible. He's also sampling the best and building his "cheese memory palace" cube by savory cube. I'm relating to this book remarkably well, considering that my own cheese tastes are beyond unsophisticated and I've only been in one cheese shop in my entire life. This was in The Netherlands in the 1970s, and my parents sampled several cheeses before coming out of there with a small wheel of I know not what, but remember that it was unpleasantly pungent and we ate it for months. Anyway, can't wait to take another bite out of American Cheese.

The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver. Novel. This book may turn out to be my favorite read for 2021. I love the panorama of disparate settings in the United States and Mexico and I'm in awe of how Kingsolver wove together a story that encompasses world events stretching from the 1920s revolution in Mexico to hideous McCarthyism in the 40s and 50s. Like Zelig, Kingsolver's main character, Harrison Shepherd is a witness to all of it. I'm also fascinated by her creation-within-a-creation -- Shepherd's historical fiction novels, set in long-ago Mexico. Her "book reviews" of his work are so convincing, I found myself wanting to put them on my wishlist. As I mentioned above, Frida Kahlo features prominently in The Lacuna, and she does something so memorable and heroic for Shepherd and his art while he appears to be doing the same for her and her art, that when it was revealed, I nearly burst into happy tears while driving down the road. I'm not finished with The Lacuna yet, and I'm not sure I want to be.

Warhol - Blake Gopnik. Biography. Not going to lie; this one is hard going. Gopnik did an incredible amount of research -- so much so that his end notes couldn't be published in the print volume because it would tack on hundreds of more pages to this already hefty tome. He seems determined not to let any of the research go to waste, jam-packing tangents, incidentals, and minute details into the story of Warhol's life. There is also a fair amount of speculation about Andy Warhol's inner psyche followed with sensible realizations that there is always going to be a barrier that even the most thorough biographer can never cross. For even the most devoted to biography fans, all of this is daunting.  I'm not giving up, though!

What I Want To Read (And Watch!):

Billy Summers - Stephen King. Novel. I'm hoping to audiobook this one.

I am so so late to the party, but after reading Mindy Kaling's book Why Not Me? last month, I finally became interested in watching The Office. One night after work, I found it on Comedy Central. The network typically runs shows all evening until ten o'clock. The first couple of episodes I watched didn't thrill me. Then, in the middle of a season 3 episode, Jim pranks Andy by hiding his phone (with its annoying ringtone of Andy's a cappella rendition of Rockin' Robin) in the ceiling, and it hit me. Now I love the show, and have been sporadically working my way through the series. At some point, I'll go back and start at the beginning. The Spawn found a library book about The Office in our local library system and it's on the way, so I'm eager to read it. My thoughts so far: The Jim and Pam romance doesn't really interest me, although I like both characters individually, especially Jim's never-ending arsenal of workplace pranks. I'm drawn to Dwight, Andy, Michael, Kelly, Meredith, Stanley, Phyllis, Oscar, Kevin, and the HR guy, Toby. Oh, and Angela, the crazy cat person. As for Ryan, played by B.J. Novak -- not sure about him yet.

 I could go on, but I really need to click this post into existence, warts and all.


raidergirl3 said...

I’m so jealous you are watching The Office for the first time. I started from the beginning; it was The Injury that sold it for me. We still watch the reruns over and over here. Enjoy!
I’ve looked at that Office book and will listen to it sometime.

Jeane said...

I liked the Office- but it's been so long since I've seen it! I think Dwight was my favorite character. At least, he made me laugh the most. Thought about re-watching it in recent years, but can't get my husband interested. He much prefers the British version. I'm just starting the Lacuna- can't believe I'd waited so long to read this one!