Monday, April 29, 2019

David Sedaris Live

Last week, I saw David Sedaris live for the third time, and it was just as good as the first two. He is so touching, so humorous, so down to earth, while being so out there, that I couldn't stop laughing and marveling at his wit and thought processes.

Sedaris is an author I've loved for years, and his writing really inspires me. I've clipped articles about his diaries - why he keeps them, what they mean to him - and he inspired me to start doing something similar. He pushes me to think about my seemingly-ordinary days in different ways and mine story ideas from the happenings. He pushes me to edit and revise and see how my writing can be polished.

This time, I noticed him making notes when the audience laughed, or when we didn't laugh. I wonder what he wrote, and how he'll revise his pieces - if at all. Maybe he's just taking notes for the sake of keeping a record, like his diaries.

He said he kept records about all his shows - how many people were there, what pieces he read, what diary sections he read, what book he recommended. He looks over these notes before re-visiting the same city, which he'll do in Memphis in November, since this show sold out. It got me thinking about how much work his job actually is. I think the dream is that authors get to sit around and dream up stories, even though that can be tough with writer's block, revision, promotion, etc. But when Sedaris tours, he goes to a new city every other night, reads, makes notes, visits and signs books until everyone has left. That's a lot of work. Signing alone would make your hand ache, but can you imagine being onstage for an hour or two, then making small talk with people for another two or three hours? It's nice of him, generous of his time and spirit, but it makes me realize I could never be that type of author. It's hard for me to make more than awkward small talk with people I somewhat know, much less with strangers. I can't imagine what my voice would sound like after reading onstage for so long, then talking more. I guess you'd get used to it, but it would definitely feel more like "work" to me than just writing. And I know this is his personality, and he seems to genuinely enjoy meeting people and hearing tidbits about their lives.

But I also know that if I became a successful writer, I'm much more likely to be a Harper Lee than a David Sedaris. What about you?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Dahl Study: A Dip in the Pool

My author study of Roald Dahl started with a reading of his Collected Stories while watching the accompanying episode of Tales of the Unexpected. Each Friday I'll recap a story and show (with spoilers, just so you know), but I encourage you to read and watch them on your own if you're interested!

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"A Dip in the Pool" from Collected Stories (read 1/3/19)

A man is on a cruise. There is some sort of auction where passengers vote on how far they think the ship will travel in a day. It seems a storm is coming, so the man bids on a low number and goes to bed. He wakes up to a beautiful day, and the ship is speeding to make up time. He gets scared because he bet his life savings and his wife will be mad, so he decides to slow the ship down. He makes sure someone will see him, then jumps overboard. But the person who saw him was an old woman who just thought he was jumping in to get some exercise.

"A Dip in the Pool" from Tales of the Unexpected (viewed 1/3/19)

The film was pretty much the same as the story. The actor playing Mr. Botibol was better than I could have imagined! Everything about him was perfect. I want to go back and re-read the story with him in mind. The film actually clarified the auction/betting aspect of it for me, too, so this might be one of the rare cases where watching the film first might be a good thing to help flesh out the story.

I think this has been one of my favorite stories and film adaptations of Dahl's so far!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Dahl Study: Edward the Conqueror

My author study of Roald Dahl started with a reading of his Collected Stories while watching the accompanying episode of Tales of the Unexpected. Each Friday I'll recap a story and show (with spoilers, just so you know), but I encourage you to read and watch them on your own if you're interested!

- - -

"Edward the Conqueror" from Collected Stories (read 1/3/19)

This story was so weird but very interesting. A man is cleaning up his wild yard with a bonfire, and his wife rescues a cat from it. She takes the cat in even though the husband hates it. She plays piano for it and becomes convinced, through its reactions, that the cat is Liszt reincarnated. She shows her husband but he thinks she's crazy. She researches Liszt and it sure the cat is him because of various markings, and wants to make a big public deal about it. Her husband is embarrassed she wants to do this. While she cooks dinner for them, the husband throws the cat in the backyard fire.

"Edward the Conqueror" from Tales of the Unexpected (viewed 1/3/19)

This was pretty similar to the story in the beginning: cat comes to yard, woman plays piano for it. The library scene had me cracking up! A chatty librarian sharing theories and "research" about reincarnation. So busy talking while shelving that he doesn't even notice she left! That was added in, of course, but appreciated! The ending was different because, while it seemed like the husband got rid of the cat, the wife went after the husband with a knife, and later the cat came back in through the window.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Daisy Jones and the Six

I don't remember how I heard about this book - everyone's buzzing about it, so maybe I saw a friend was reading it via Goodreads, or saw it on #bookstagram. Either way, I put it on hold at the library and didn't have to wait too long to start it. I was so excited to crack open the cover, which felt amazing in itself, because I haven't been reading much lately.

Then I started the story. WOW. Not only do I love classic rock and band drama from the '70s, but it's so well-written, and presented in an interesting way of the author compiling a narrative from all parties involved.

Also, it's totally the book I've been trying to write for decades.

I'm not saying the author stole my work or my idea or anything like that! I'm just feeling validated that this idea I had as a thirteen year old Aerosmith fanatic might actually have literary merit! I thought the story I was writing was glorified fan fiction, but  Daisy Jones and the Six has me rethinking that, and revisiting my story.

There are so many quotes about how you can't be a writer without being a reader, and I've always been a reader. And I've always loved music. And falling in love with Aerosmith as a young teenager gave me a way to connect music and writing. I worked on my fan fiction novel off and on for several years. I'm not exaggerating when I say I think of it often, even as an adult. I think of the title (which I still think is pretty perfect), and the main character, and what really should happen in the end. Because of course I haven't finished it!

But now, on the cusp of finishing Daisy Jones and the Six and honestly having no clue what will happen, I'm intrigued about my own story again. I want to re-read what I wrote so long ago, and see how my age and wisdom (ha!) might influence how the story will pan out. It's so refreshing to find a book that has not only made me fall in love with reading again, but has also made me fall back in love with writing, imagining, and all that comes along with that type of creating.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Dahl Study: Neck

My author study of Roald Dahl started with a reading of his Collected Stories while watching the accompanying episode of Tales of the Unexpected. Each Friday I'll recap a story and show (with spoilers, just so you know), but I encourage you to read and watch them on your own if you're interested!

- - -

"Neck" from Collected Stories (read 1/3/19)

This story was a little strange overall. It took a bit to get into the action, then I think the ending was over my head (no pun intended). A newspaper columnist meets an important man's wife, and manages to get invited to their estate for the weekend. The husband used to own a newspaper when he was single, but he got rich, his wife nailed him down, and now he is an art collector and has huge statues all over the estate. The columnist hits it off with the husband while the wife is very rude and flirts with other guests. The newspaper columnist and husband walk the grounds and see the wife goofing around with a guest, even kissing him. She gets her head stuck in a statue and the husband has to cut her out with an ax or saw... but the ending was ambiguous to me. I think he lets her die from asphyxiation? 

"Neck" from Tales of the Unexpected (viewed 1/3/19)

The show cut to the chase quickly, having an art historian (instead of a columnist) come to the estate of an art collector and his wife. The wife came on to the art historian in his room one night - something that wasn't in the story. The backstory of the husband owning a newspaper and his wife chasing him into marriage came out in later dialogue. The sculpture scene and kiss happen, but the husband first tries to put Vaseline on the wife's neck to pull her head out. It makes her mad that he makes her messy trying this, because it makes her look silly. I was hoping the film would show the ending to clear it up for me, but it still had him going for her/the sculpture with an ax, and her screaming, so who knows. Maybe he chopped her head off with the ax in this one?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Dahl Study: The Landlady

My author study of Roald Dahl started with a reading of his Collected Stories while watching the accompanying episode of Tales of the Unexpected. Each Friday I'll recap a story and show (with spoilers, just so you know), but I encourage you to read and watch them on your own if you're interested!

- - -

"The Landlady" from Collected Stories (read 1/3/19)

A young man takes the train to a new city for his job. He is supposed to find his own room, and asks for a recommendation. On his way to the recommended pub, he sees a cozy-looking room with a bed and breakfast sign in the window. He stops there instead of continuing on to the recommended place. It's cheaper than he was expecting, so he stays. The woman seemed to have been waiting for him, and she is very...into him. She has him sign the guestbook and he sees two names only. The names sound a bit familiar to him. Then he learns the woman is a skilled taxidermist, and she says her two other guests never left...

"The Landlady" from Tales of the Unexpected (viewed 1/3/19)

This starts off similar to the story, but is more explicit in laying it out. The landlady gives the young man tea and explains about her taxidermy and then the young man starts feeling sick. She takes him to his bed as he tries to figure out how he knows the two other names in her guestbook. It then shows her "caring for" the two taxidermy men before returning to the newest young man, donning her apron, and readying her supplies.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Reading Life: 1st Quarter 2019

My reading life for the first three months of 2019 has been pretty sad. I read 8 books in January, 3 in February, and 7 in March. You can see all my reviews on Goodreads, but I wanted to share my top three here.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival
by Kelly Sundberg 

Recommended by a friend, and I would in turn recommend it to pretty much anyone. Sundberg is so open and honest about her relationship history, her marriage, and being a mother. Her prose is beautiful and emotional and touching. Many sections had me nodding in agreement, others had me biting my nails, and others had me weeping. A must-read.

by Jennifer Mathieu

I cannot rave about this book enough. I keep thinking “I wish I had this when I was in high school” but honestly, it seems just as important to me as an adult. It’s inspirational, moving, and will make you feel empowered. Beautiful writing, wonderful story. Highly recommend for EVERYONE to read.

Alice Isn't Dead
by Joseph Fink

I haven’t really listened to the podcast much due to listening time constraints, so I was excited to get my hands on the book. I loved this creepy, surreal story that made such a realistic commentary about human nature. Now I’ve got to carve out time to listen to the podcast.