A great essay by someone I happen to have first met decades ago, and who has always been a great writer: Hello, Handsome: On Never Being Beautiful: "I don’t mean to downplay the importance of preferred pronouns—they are important!—but there are nouns I prefer, too, and adjectives." It has only been in the last few years that I have asked partners - and myself - what are the words that feel good to you, that feel right to you? What are the compliments that make you feel seen? And it always leads to fascinating discussions.
Image: source. Love this!
"With the land and possessions of America rapidly passing into the hands of a favored few; with thousands of men and woman in idleness and want; with wages constantly tending to a lower level...with the knowledge that the servants of the people elected to correct abuses are bought and sold in legislative halls at the bidding of corporations and individuals: with all these notorious evils sapping the foundations of popular government and destroying personal liberty, some rude awakening must come. And if it shall come, when you look then abroad over the ruin and desolation, remember the long years in which the storm was rising, and do not blame the thunderbolt." Just started reading this biography of Clarence Darrow, so far it's great.
More books! I recently finished Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse, which I cannot recommend. More complicated are my feelings about The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. There were parts and characters I found interesting, and I definitely have more respect for Gilbert as an author now than I did beforehand - the book is nothing if not ambitious. But it dragged in parts, and had these oddly empty pockets where certain main characters were just left flat and seemed like voids in an otherwise rich story. I can't say that I would recommend it (especially not at 500 pages), but I also don't regret reading it. I'm very curious to hear other peoples thoughts, however, since it seems to have garnered a lot of favorable reviews and adoration, and was clearly quite an undertaking.
While waiting in court for a case to be called recently, I read Stitches: a handbook on meaning, hope, and repair by one of my long time favorites, Anne Lamott. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to have a word with her. Annie, I love you, but I'm gonna keep it real - cause I think that's what you'd want. I've been a fan of your books for years, and a fan of yours ever since I saw you speak near my hometown in Oregon about 15 years ago. I was a cranky teenager, there with my mom, and we both came away swooning. You were so honest, so funny, so smart and compassionate and wise. "Bird By Bird" was my everything as a young writer, and "Operating Instructions" made me laugh and cry and hug my mom and my best friend - I've given it to so many of my new parent friends. Your essays/columns on line floored me, as I read and reread them. In my late 20s, a lifelong interest in religion became a personal path towards Christianity, and "Traveling Mercies" and your other books on your faith journey captured so much of what I was feeling and struggling with. So, given all that praise, why did I start this with a warning? Well, your last two books - this one, and "Help, Thanks, Wow" a have left me disappointed. You seem to have transitioned into publishing gift books, small hardbacks with color font, short chapters, and, well, not much there. I don't know if it's a money making thing or swim thing about demand, but I beg you - dig in, give us another hefty, hearty, stewed over book, something not rushed to press or triple spaced. Or stick to blog posts and flesh out these short chapters. I know, I'm walking a thin line and risking offensive, obsessive fan like territory, but I think the green type in "Stiches" put me over the edge. Love always, Sarah