Tuesday, November 02, 2021

October: Booktober, Rocktober

 October was such a great reading month; it was so good, it gives me shivers. Octobrrr! Here's what happened since I was last here with my watering left eye and bulging, pounding left face:

What I read:

Peyton Place - Grace Metalious. The last time I read this was in the ninth grade. I had a copy of the first paperback edition. How did I end up with Peyton Place? I don't remember, but I think I spirited it from my grandmother's or maybe my aunt's bookshelves during a summer visit. As always, not the same book decades later. Still riveting reading with frank discussions in even franker language that resonate even nearly 70 years after Metalious wrote the novel. The version that appeared in bookstores was considerably toned down from her original manuscript, according to her biographer, Emily Toth. I'd love to read that version. I think. Because there is some problematic stuff. One character, who actually turns out to be a really nice person (not from Peyton Place) gets violent with his partner during some non-consenting sex and this is the key to unblocking her frigidity and towards morning, she is smiling. Ugh. A vile and a stenchily overused trope, even back then. There's the gratuitous use of the n-word. Ugh. And there's this really twisted chapter involving a man's affections towards his heavily pregnant wife, a troubled boy, a corpse, voyeurism, a cat, and the promise of an enema that initially had me saying ugh, but also, another part of me was recognizing that this was Grace Metalious working at full power, unrestrained, burning down her typewriter, and my ugh turned to damn, girl!

Inside Peyton Place: The Life of Grace Metalious - Emily Toth. I'm glad that Toth was able to give the finger to all the academics who sniffed at her for wanting to write about the author of Peyton Place. I'm also glad that she was able to get interviews with many of Metalious's family, friends, and contemporaries. However, the end result feels a little muted. There's something about Toth's writing style, earnest as it is that just doesn't match up with the sad and squalid train wreck that was Grace Metalious's short life. It's like she's trying to fit it into a tidy framework, and there was nothing tidy about Grace Metalious. Framework? F that, I can almost hear Metalious saying. Get me another Canadian Club and 7Up. But like I said before, I am glad, fiercely so, that Toth took on this project. After all these years (Inside Peyton Place was published in the early 1980s) I wonder if anyone would be willing give a new biography a go.

Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage. This novel was my audiobook for late October, and it was the perfect read-listen for the days leading up to Halloween. I love an unreliable narrator, and in Baby Teeth's two main characters, 7-year-old defiantly mute Hanna and her overanxious, perfectionistic and chronically ill mother, Suzette, it seemed that I had two. Or did I? Baby Teeth kept me guessing. I loved everything about the novel. I can hardly write about it because I loved its setting, characters, creepy factor so much that I want everyone to read it so we can talk. The ending feels like there's the possibility for a sequel, although it's perfect the way it is. 

What I'm Reading:

Fresh Off the Boat - Eddie Huang. This memoir, which inspired the TV show about a family from Taiwan who emigrates to the United States and settles in Central Florida in the early 1990s is poignant and pungent. I'm enjoying it, especially the multisensory descriptions of food.

How To Change Your Mind - Michael Pollan. This is my newest audiobook. Just got started, but know that I'll like it. I've been a Pollan fan since The Botany of Desire.

What I Want to Read:

The Boys - Ron Howard. This is a memoir by director/actor Ron Howard about Ron, his younger brother Clint, and their dad, Rance, all actors. A friend of mine bought this book, and I'm trying to figure out what is the polite amount of time to wait before I start demanding that he hurry up and finish reading so that I can read it. So far, it's been about 4 days.

Cheese, Sex, Death - Erika Kubick. It's finally published! Looks gorgeous.

Everything by Zoje Stage!!!

What I'm Watching:

Just finished Season 3 of The Office.

What I Cheesed:

The Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar is but a fond memory. I'm low on Butter Kase. No regrets about pitching the goat cheese. I want to go back to The Cheese Store, but I still have a brick of Garden Bruschetta waiting in the freezer. [Edited to add: Forgot to mention my sweet Bourbon Maple Cheddar, a wonderful dessert cheese. A decent-sized chunk left.]

What I Halloweened:

Every year I tell myself I'm going to be Miss Havisham, then I let planning time slip away. At the last minute I borrowed some of the cat's toys, pinned them in my chaotic just-rolled-out-of-bed hair and went as "what the cat dragged in".


raidergirl3 said...

I JUST finished The Boys. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Bybee said...

I can't wait either! My friend is savoring his copy. I get regular reports on how much he's enjoying it.