Thursday, August 11, 2011

Whereby I Wait, Flounder, and Critique Erotica. Of Course.

Dog days of summer, man.  So smurfing hot.  And I'm bored. And drifting. It's not that I don't have anything to's that I don't feel like doing any of it.  Because I'm floundering. And this floundering is taking up all of my time and energy.

I've been reading while floundering around....sweating in the heat and nervously awaiting the inevitable change that is upon me. I'm stuck in la-la land until the girl finally leaves. And I'm waiting...waiting...and so is she.  We will all feel better when she's gone and we're not waiting anymore, just because it is difficult to be in the place of waiting.  She's checked out but she's still here, her bags are packed but she still needs a toothbrush every night, we're tired of saying goodbye and we'll miss you and ready to get on with things.  I'm sad because she's leaving, and that is precariously close to being sad that she's gone, and entirely unfair, since she's still here.  We should be either:

a) Spending lots of fun time together while we still can or:

b) Missing her because she's gone but managing well enough.  As it is, we're stuck with:

c) Not really having fun because we know she's leaving and not being able to move on because she technically hasn't left. 

It's a weird place to be and since I'd rather not be here, I've been removing myself from reality with the endless reading.  Dang, but having a Kindle has made it all entirely too easy.  I about died when I recently saw how much money I'd blown on Amazon.  Yesterday, I went to order a book and saw that the Kindle edition was $14.99, and I said screw it. 

Screw it, I said!  I shall reacquaint myself with the library.  I'll request this book online and wait patiently for it to arrive.  My Kindle laughed in my face as I said this.  Really? he said.  You're going to WAIT? Once you've had instant gratification, baby,  you can never go back.

Yes, that's right.  My Kindle calls me baby.

Yes, I can go back, I said.  Just watch me!  Someone (pardon me...someTHING) was getting just a tad bit overconfident.

I logged into my library account.  And, as soon as I logged in I saw that I had zero books checked out. I was freaking flooded with relief.  Usually it says I have several books checked out that nobody in this house has ever heard of.  Did you check out the book about 19th century pottery-making???  No?  What about the one on spiritual dance as a way to cleanse the soul of psychic toxins?  

ANYWAY, so I logged in, saw that my alternative self in my alternative universe had not been covertly checking out books without consulting me, and I attempted to request a book like other people who are not missing library books they apparently checked out while sleepwalking. I felt very confident as I clicked on "request a hold." But then it said, "Request cannot be processed due to a problem with your account." Turns out I owe $13.96 for a book (probably about the origins of metalsmithing or something equally ridiculous) and I can't request another book until I pay up in person.  Paying up in person would not normally be a problem, but since Camille is out of dance for the week I'm not going to be in the general vicinity of the library and just can't justify spending $25 in gas to pay a $13.96 library fee when I could freaking have the book in my possession Right This Minute for a mere $14.99.  What a deal! What a bargain! 

I told you, doll face, smirked my Kindle.    You can't resist me so don't even try.

God, he's so sexy when he talks that way. And he's right, too.  I can't resist the pull of instant gratification. The book in question?  Is awful.  It's by Laurel K. Hamilton and it's the latest in the stupid vampire porn series that I quit reading over a year ago...had seriously kicked the embarrassing habit...but then my Writer Friend (and she knows who she is) said, "Oh you really have to read the latest one.  They're still awful but really good."  Since that made perfect sense to me, I set off to get the last book only to discover that there had been 2 BOOKS published since my having kicked the habit (quantity versus quality) and so I had to start where I'd left off.  While reading these books (the Anita Blake series) I like to text my Writer Friend to make fun of how badly written it is.  Because that's what bitter unpublished writers do for fun.  Anyway - the books are classified as paranormal romance but really they're just vampire smut.  Read them if you dare, but don't say I didn't warn you.  Now I must redeem myself.  On my Kindle I've also recently read:

The HelpSometimes I like to follow the masses.  Actually, a lot of the time I like to follow the mass.  In fact, I suspect that I am, in fact, a part of the masses.  I loved the book.  I know there's controversy surrounding it but I honestly don't know why.  Maybe I'm being insensitive.  If I am, I don't know it.  That's how insensitive works, after all.  I've read that people are upset by the heavy dialect/accents/speech patterns used by the Black characters.  I noticed it, but it didn't bother me.  I'm used to reading books or watching movies or television shows where Texans are depicted with the most ridiculous and unreal accents imaginable. The characters were 1960's Mississippi Jim Crow Times Black Characters...and I'm not saying their dialects are expressed correctly in this fictional representation - I'm just saying that some of the people doing the criticizing probably don't know, either. Anyway - I do plan on seeing the movie.  See?  One of the masses.

I also read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It was one of those amnesia stories - but I loved it.  The character, Alice, wakes up on the floor of a gym, where she had passed out.  She doesn't know why she's in a gym (she hates to exercise), she doesn't know why her friends look so much the worse for wear, and she thinks she's pregnant and happily married - because ten years before - she was.  She's lost ten years of her life.  The story doesn't go on and on about what happened during those years like a lot of amnesia stories - it just throws her right back into her life only she's a different person.  She's still fiercely in love with her husband....yet she's in the middle of a divorce and custody battle with him - which is strange because she doesn't even know why they're getting divorced in the first place, and since none of the things that stressed their marriage have even really happened in her mind, she sees things from a very different light than her non-amnesiac self.  It was really very interesting.  It was a good read with a satisfying ending. Who was I ten years ago and how would that person do if plopped down right here right now in what I currently call my life?  

I'm currently reading Spinning by Michael Baron and I honestly don't know how I came to have heard of this novel.  I have notes jotted down everywhere with novel titles on them.  Anyway, it's too soon to say whether or not I like it. The dialogue seems awkward and unnatural and I'm also having trouble with the believability of the main character at this point.  It could be it'll turn a corner very soon and I'll end up being enthralled.  After all - I am The Person Who Is Apparently Reading The Entire Anita Blake Series.

I'm waiting to read two books (already on the Kindle!) by authors I heard interviewed on NPR.  I always listen to these interviews with the full intention or getting my hands on the books but then I can't remember the titles or the authors or I forget that I ever heard the interview because the only time I ever listen to NPR is in the car.  But this time - with my handy Kindle - voila!  Instant books.  So I'll soon be reading The Family Fang: A Novel, by Kevin Wilson.  And no, it isn't about vampires.

The other book is called Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock.  I didn't actually hear Pollock discussing this novel.  He was discussing his latest novel, Devil All the Time. But it isn't available on Kindle so....I bought an earlier novel of his that is.  I liked how his interview went - I liked HIM.  He is an older writer.  I appreciate that.  It gives me hope.

I'm also (ahem) currently reading a bit of erotica.  I read a book review in Slate about an erotica author and the review was good and strange and I liked the language of the excerpt and I picked up my Kindle and BINGO!  Erotica at my fingertips.  The author is Nicholson Baker - he's written other novels I haven't read because, believe it or not, my bookshelves are not overflowing with erotic fiction (unless you count the vampire porn and I'd really prefer that you not).  If my bookshelves were overflowing with erotic fiction, by the way, I wouldn't admit it.  But they're not.  We're still somewhat of a family show over here in The Can.  In fact, were it not for my sexy new Kindle, I doubt I would ever have purchased Baker's newest novel, House of Holes, at allBut I do have a sexy new Kindle and I did order it. Wow!  Did you hear how much I defended my purchase. Me thinks she does protest too much...

I'm only partway in (that sounds bad considering the subject matter and the book title, but truly, it was unintentional or possibly a Freudian slip), so the jury is still out on whether or not I LIKE it.  I mean, the story is weird and the sex is not sexy sex or romantic sex or hot sex.  It is just extremely strange and rather unemotional sex.  So I don't know for sure whether or not I like it. But do I like the writing?  Yes! Very much!  He says the strangest can't just read along without being very aware that you're reading because the sentences never take you where you think they're going.  I love delightful surprises in the details.  You know who this author reminds me of?  Haruki Murakami (my all-time favorite author).  It is just the kind of erotica Murakami would write if he wrote erotica. 

It's as if the guy writes his novels using Mad Libs.

Check this out:

...he wanted to meet a nice, smart, sexy woman, so he went to a lecture on the history of the municipal water supply... Don't you think that's delicious?  See how he dumps little surprises into your lap while you're sitting there totally not expecting it?  I was like, "Municipal water supply...that's hilarious!"

...and sat down on a folding chair next to a woman with mustard-colored stockings.  Again - just knock me over with a feather there have been no mustard-colored stockings in the history of colored stockings.  He could have said ANY color on the planet.  He had the full color spectrum to choose from and chose MUSTARD and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.   

...such a beautiful boy - ascetic looking, with a shy large toothy smile and high cheekbones and large bony knuckles and heartbreaking shoulders.  Heartbreaking shoulders.  I had to read it three times at least because I loved the idea of heartbreaking shoulders so very much. I wish I had thought of heartbreaking shoulders but most people just don't think that way. I am very much like Most People and I really hate that about myself.

Nicholson's characters speak in the same clipped, blunt manner as Murakami's characters. One character will say something supremely strange and the other character will respond in a delightful ho-hum manner, as if they heard things like that every day. That kind of quirky dialogue is a trademark of Murakami's. 

Let's see...I've pulled a Murakami novel off my shelf, Kafka on the Shore.  Now I've just randomly opened it up to page...let's see...247.  And aha!  Let's just look at this dialogue, shall we? 

I turn red. "I can't really explain it," I reply. "It's complicated and there's a lot of stuff I still don't get."

"But you're probably in love, probably with Miss Saeki?"

"Right," I say. "Very much."

"Probably, but also very much?"

I nod.

"At the same time it's possible she's your mother?"

Another of my patented nods.

See what I mean?  This is on every page. 

Baker's characters do it, too.  One character, Shandee, is having a relationship with the disembodied arm of a man named Dave.  She refers to the arm simply as Dave's arm. She and Dave's arm have ended up traveling through a porthole to the House of Holes, where Dave is supposedly running around without an arm, having exchanged it for a larger penis, of course.  And she meets a young man who entered the porthole through the pierced ear hole of a girl he met.  And here, she's introducing Dave's arm to the young man, who acts as if it is perfectly normal to meet an arm.

"Dave's arm, meet Ruzty. Ruzty, meet Dave's arm."  She held Dave's arm out.

"Hey, dude," said Ruzty, and gave the arm a thumb-to-thumb handshake. He smiled at Shandee - dazzling teeth. "Good for you to travel with somebody who is a friend."

"That's very true," said Shandee.

It could be that you're reading this and thinking, "Wow, that Sardine Mama is quite strange."  It could be that you're reading this and not getting the slightest bit enthusiastic about clipped dialogue that takes you down rabbit holes, or unexpected details like mustard-colored tights.  It could be you have absolutely no intention whatsoever of jumping onto Amazon and buying either vampire porn (and I really suggest you don't), erotica or Japanese sci-fi based on my less than professional critique, and are, in fact, thankful that you are the master of your own Kindle and can avoid erotica and Japanese sci-fi, entirely.  And if that is the case, that means I am sometimes a part of the masses, and other times.....not so much. And if that is the case, it makes me perfectly happy.


  1. Hahahahhaha! Hilarious post! I have a Kindle now, too, thanks to your encouragement. Not sure I've told you! It only has one sad, lonely book in it so far.

  2. I'm a several-month-long lurker who loves reading your blog, and you finally lured me out of the shadows because I had to tell you that I once (and for quite a long time) owned a pair of mustard-colored stockings. What can I say, it was the 80's, and I also wore a lot of color-block sweaters and a flock of seagulls haircut.

    Did you ever write a mother's day post about your 2 youngest? Maybe I missed it....

  3. Another reason I so love coming here. You love words like I do. And sentences and such!

    Nicholson Baker is extraordinary—I have his book "The Mezzanine" and his essays "The Size of Thoughts." I've only read these two, so I had NO idea he wrote erotica! Such a sheltered world I've lived in. The premise of The Mezzanine, and this is literally the whole novel, is a man going on an escalator from the ground floor to the mezzanine level of a building. That's the WHOLE book. I mention it now and then in the writing workshops I run for kids—it blows their minds that that's an actual, real novel. I love blowing their minds.

    I love Nicholson's writing (yeah, me and him, we're on a first name basis)—he delights and confuses me. I love being delighted and confused. Now I want to read the one you're reading. And I definitely have to check out Murakami. World opening up!

    As for your limbo state—I know that feeling well, have definitely been there. And I know the urge to climb into books and pull their covers up over you while you're waiting. 'Cept you can't pull a Kindle over you, but you know (I hope) what I mean.

  4. You can find & listen to most books on YouTube for FREE!! Just case you & your Kindle have another falling out. They do say that money is one of the most common problems that ends relationships ;-}

  5. I was going to pick up Kafka on the Shore and read it for the second time this week. I read it last summer and was totally confused and blown away by how good it was. I still have no idea what it was about, but fell in love with the characters. I gave it to my mom to read and she said she wanted to strangle me for giving it to her because she had no idea what was going on, but loved it at the same time. Of course we both had different opinions of what it might be about. I figured maybe I could make something out of it a year later. Hmmm....I guess I will have to put Baker's book on my list.

  6. I did not download any of your recommendations for my kindle. Sorry if that disappoints you. I have a very compelling reason for it, though. You see, I have no kindle.
    I did reserve the Alice one (can't remember the title now, and it wasn't even on NPR) at my local library. No immediate gratification for me... Does that make me virtuous? Nope, just too poor to buy a kindle. The fact that I did not also reserve any of the porn, vampire or no - that may make me virtuous - who knows? I could say something else about gratification here, but I won't.
    By the way - I love love love your writing. So there.

  7. Amy - so glad you got a Kindle! Don't put Murakami on it, though. It would be awful to have him on a Kindle instead of in a warm and lovely and well-worn book that you can hold close to your breast. I'm pretty sure my macho-man Kindle with the attitude would be jealous of my affection for Murakami.

    Stephanie - thanks for commenting and I LOVE IT that you wore mustard tights with your Flock of Seagulls hair!! Love it love it love it. I saw them, by the way. Flock of Seagulls. It was a long, hot night and I only remember part of it. I was wearing purple tights and hot pink boots. I'd have worn mustard tights if I'd known they existed. In fact, I would have gone to the ends of the earth to find them. Thanks for commenting :).

    Helena - The Mezzanine is now on my Kindle!! Can't wait to read it!!

    Dena - you're a murakami fan??? Yay!! Kafka on the Shore - one of my faves but I didn't get it. In fact, I blogged once about how I didn't get it My favorite is Hard Boiled Wonderland and the Edge of the World. I also liked the Wind-up Bird Chronicles and Wild Sheep Chase....I've read them all except his book on running because I avoid running-related things at all cost.

    Dee - do you have to sit and listen on the computer? Sorry - I'm technically challenged. I can't even take a picture with my phone. As for my next falling out with my Kindle - it will be over his snarky tone, I'm quite certain.

    And finally - Heidi of the All Natural Pits...I'm quite certain that you are more virtuous than I.

    For anyone who comments after this - no promises that I will do the return commenting on the commenting...depends on my mood. Tonight I'm obviously quite chatty.

  8. I really should have opened this when I had more time. I'm half way through but I have to stop here and go to work.
    See you at StateWorker Break Time! m.

  9. Here I am again and you should thank me because I just spent my Union break only with you.
    I am so sorry that you are one of the Masses. But since you are, just try to be the coolest one of us. It's easy, I do it all the time. But I know what you mean. On the occassion that I do read a book(very very rare), I read things like Municiple Water Supply and think "Why didn't I think of that"?
    But movies I do watch. I won't run out and see The Help but will watch it when it's on Netflix. I'm sure it's going to be all "Oprah-y" and will make me vomit but I'll still watch it. I really hate to relive the horrible past and cry about which is why most Blacks and Gays hate me. But what can I do. It's me!
    All that said now, your amnesia book sounds so cool. Let me guess, her marriage is saved at the end. hmmm?
    Your Friend, m.
    p.s. I'm sure there were spelling mistakes but you'll just have to deal with them. I need to get of this quickly. m.

  10. In response to your question about having to sit & listen to it on your computer....the answer is, "yes". Now that I think about it, from your posts of what your life is like - what with the all running here & there 24/7 - that was probably a terrible option for you! ;-} Guess your man, Mr. K., is safe for now.