There are books that come into your life at exactly the right time. For me, this month, Yes Please by Amy Poehler has been one of these books. I’ve heard a lot about it, along with companion-of-sorts-title Bossypants by Tina Fey (and Poehler’s good friend). I’ve been feeling drained and when I get like that I lose focus and start worrying about things that are really stupid. Not only did Poehler’s jokes – the dark ones especially, I have a morbid sense of humour – help lift me out of my mood, but I found it really inspiring. Hardly surprising, given I’d be smack in the middle of her target demographic as I slide towards the end of my thirties, but that’s nothing to sniff or sneer at – nor is the success she’s managed to achieve. Plus, she’s an acute observer of people and place – a talent honed through improv characterisations and comedic writing, no doubt. Her high school and college memories, in particular, were satisfying and not overwritten. Other memoirists could take notes. What resonated most was her point that she never waited around for things to happen; she cast herself, wrote her own skits. As a blogger and self-publisher, I understand that mentality.
I have a feeling (or worry) that The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro is going to be a disappointment. The reviews I’ve read of it are lukewarm at best. This is the point where, if I mention the ‘r’ word to Adam, he customarily replies “Why don’t you read the book first to make up your own mind?” I understand his point and wish (at times) I was as egalitarian in my choices as he is. On the other hand, I like making informed decisions, so I doubt I’ll change much. Either way, Ishiguro wrote one of my favourite novels (Remains of the Day) and I’m keeping the faith until I get started on The Buried Giant.
Finally, I’ve just finished Meanjin Vol 74, No.4, the first by its new editor Jonathan Green. Meanjin has always been among my top picks of Australian literary journals and I’d heard terrific word about its revised shape and form (to quote the editorial: “a new typographic feel, a new size and hopefully enhanced readability”). I read literary journals in a strange way, harking back to when I was a subscriber to the New Yorker and I would go to the end first to read the cartoon caption winners and Emily Nussbaum and then work my way ‘forwards’ from there, but I do think I’m qualified to say that this now feels easier to hold in hand and the pages fall open better. (I used to get confused when people would mention this sort of thing; “does it really matter?” I’d ask. Now I have arthritis in my fingers and I answer past-Karen’s question with a “you bet it matters”.)
Anyway, back to point, I particularly enjoyed the non-fiction and look forward to seeing the tastes and selections of incoming fiction and poetry editors (Peter Pierce and Bronwyn Lea, respectively) and how they will help mould future editions.
What are you reading this month? Were you given any books at Christmas?