15 November 2012

Happy All The Time

Laurie Colwin's "Happy All The Time" is another one of my all-time favorite books. On the Bookcrossing website, it's listed under "Permanent Collection" ... yes, I know I stated before that I don't put PC books on the website, but I felt obligated because this copy is one I got from another Bookcxrosser, complete with BCID, and I HAD to writge a JE (journal entry).

As is the case with "Jane," I've had different copies of this book since I first found it in paperback @ my local military library in Heidelberg, Germany. I've moved several times in 30 years, and every time I move, I lose something, only to find something else from a few prior moves. Books are often in the "Lose One, Find One" category.

"Happy All The Time" tells the story of four twentysomethings: Holly, Guido, Misty and Vincent. Guide and Vincent are cousins, who meet and marry the two girls. Guido first marries Holly, and Vincent later weds Misty, an smart, urban Jewish girl from New York City. The other 3 are what I call "hopeless WASPs," mostly from Connecticut, but who now live in NYC.

That's about the extent of the book. There's no sex and/or violence, or crime or anything. People have arguments and make up, go to dinner parties, have misunderstandings about one thing or another, have a baby (Holly & Guido), and basically slog through life.

I think you either love or hate this book, and I loved it. I discovered it at a time in my life when I was a little younger than the 4 main characters, and it spoke to me. Yes, that's a pretty pretentious little expression, I find, but that's how it was. I used to love to read it whilst in the bathtub, something I don't do anymore.

When I'm particularly down, I'll pick up "Happy All The Time," and feel better after I've finished it. While I'm not Jewish, I identify a lot with Misty, who seems to be very misunderstood. At one point, she makes the remark that she's a fine, upstanding person, something it takes the average citizen a long time to find out. Uh-oh ... it's time to read the book again if I can't recall, verbatim, Misty's quote. I've used it often throughout the years, with varying degrees of success.

Another book by Laurie that I really like is "Family Happiness," a copy of which got lost in the Great Move of 2010. Time to pick up another one, I guess.

Many of Laurie Colwin's books deal with adulty as comitted by an otherwise happily-married woman. Don't know why she always came back to this topic, but there it is. There was, coincidentally, no adultery in "Happy All The Time," but there sure was in "Family Happiness." I didn't blame the heroine, Polly, at all, as she had an irritating family and their expectations were often a real pain in the neck.

Laurie Colwin also wrote two non-traditional cookbooks, which were more like memoirs with recipes. If you search for her online, you'll see all her works.

Born in 1944, Laurie died in October of 1992 at the age of 48, after suffering a heart attack while sleeping. Wow, she's been gone 20 years. I'm feeling really old as I write this, and she was 10 years older than I.

If you can get a copy of "Happy All The Time" at your library, give it a try. I think it's time for me to pick it up again.

13 November 2012

"Jane" by Dee Wells

One of my favorite books is entitled "Jane" by American author Dee Wells, who died in 2003. I've owned several copies throughout my life, the latest acquisition a former library book from Seattle. I've been reading this book on and off since it came out in --- I think! --- 1977. It never gets old.

I always thought Dee Wells was much before her time. "Jane" tells the story of Jane Cornell, an American ex-pat in London. Single and about 35 years old, Jane works for a third-rate newspaper, serving as the movie guru and critic. She entertains 3 lovers at once, and a diverse crew they are: one is Lord Anthony, a real peer; Tom, a years-younger burgler and petty thief; and Franklin, a black lawyer who is in the UK while doing something (I've forgotten what) at Oxford or Cambridge (details unimportant).

Jane manages the 3 guys with aplomb, and all is going well until she gets pregnant and doesn't know which suitor is the father. To say hilarity ensues would be pushing it, but it' all very amusing and very realistic.

I kind of identified with Jane a lot, even though she would have been about 10 years my senior and I've never been part of an interracial couple, so don't know the pressures that would entail in the 1970's. The older I get, the more I appreciate Dee Wells' work. This was her only book, though she surely could have written more.

"Jane" is filled with very witty dialogue and might even today be an excellent film. On the book jacket, the original from 'way back when, it states that it is "soon to be a major motion picture," but never got made. Don't know who holds the rights, but someone should be looking into make this book into a film, considering the crapola that's being made right now. Heck, there's a remake of "Anna Karenina" out now, so why not "Jane?"

At Bookcrossing, it is not my habit to enter books from my private collection, as I rarely lend them to people I don't know, and I see no point. My Bookcrossing bookshelf is 99% books I intend to give away. Coincidentally, a couple of books from my private collection are listed, and I always think about removing them, but procrastintion wins out and I do nothing.

I would love to give examples of some of Dee Wells' writing here, but don't want to get sued due to copyright restrictions. I suggest trying Amazon.com to read excerpts from her book to get a feel for her writing. It's laugh-out-loud funny, but don't take my word for it. Some libraries still have it on their shelves, so check it out.

Dee Wells' private life was fairly interesting, too. Her daughter, Alexandra "Gully" Wells, recently published a memoir about the family's French summer house, and there are many interesting details about her mother and the eclectic collection of friends and relatives who came to visit.

Hitting the non-sequitur bandwagon, I'm preparing two books for controlled release to Australia and Holland. Have I mentioned that before? It can be a topic for another day.

10 November 2012

Another Year, Another Post!

The road to hell being paved with good intentions and all that, I've intended to blog again before a year went by, but blew that. Now that I have WiFi @ home, it should be a lot easier, but I've been streaming a lot of movies and TV shows on my computer, and it's kinda hard to write while viewing.

I've had mixed success with Bookcrossing since moving to New Hampshire, especially to the town where I now reside - Litchfield. Before coming here, I spent 5 years in a place called Amherst, near Nashua & Manchester, and had access to an Official Bookcrossing Zone (OBCZ). As luck would have it, as I was relocating, my OBCZ changed hands and while I guess there is still Bookcrossing activity going on, it's not the way it used to be. The place used to be a very nice café, and on any given day, one could find lots of BC books. Matter of fact, that's how I discovered BC, through this establishment. Then the owner sold it to her head chef and he made it more of a bistro/restaurant, not etirely conducive to BC activity.

I don't like going to Nashua or Manchester for BC activity, so I've not been doing a lot of wild-releasing or even book searching. I've been content to perform controlled releases, combined with the so-called RABCK (Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness), whereby I mail a book to another Bookcrosser who had a certain book on his/her Wishlist. This way I'm guaranteed that someone gets a book he/she wanted. I've had very bad luck here with wild releases.

Money being tight and the US Postal Service being the rip-off it is, I've limited myself to sending books within the Continental US (CONUS, as we called it while I was in the military), but I will make the odd exception and send something overseas, especially if it's a book that is very difficult to acquire. The past couple of months, I've sent books to the UK, Australia and South Africa. I have German books I'd like to mail to Germany (or any German speaker in any country), but have no takers for the right now. I need to go back to Germany to visit so I can do some wild releases there! Always had great luck with a wild release in Germany.

As I mentioned on my profile page on Bookcrossing, I am NOT a great fan of murder mysteries or thrillers, but I make exceptions. My good BC friend, TheOtherMrsH in Kentucky, is a big mystery fan, and I obtain books for her. Sometimes I read 'em, sometimes I don't.

TOMH reads the Janet Evanovich "Stphanie Plum" series, and I've send her copies of paperbacks from time to time. I'm not a fan by any means, but have read a few because I'd run out of stuff to read at the house.

During the past 2 months, I've read Plum books #1-3, #8, and now #17 and #18. I don't understand the big deal. Stephanie Plum is a dolt and by all rights, she should be dead, considering all the close calls she's had. I enjoyed #17 more than #18, which isn't saying much, but don't want to read any more.

Never in my life have I read so many dining scenes in a book! The Plums are constantly eating, or Stephanie is taking a break from bounty hunting to go get grub somewhere, and we're not talking Fine Dining by any means! I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly don't want to have to stop reading a book 'cause I'm hungry!

Coincidentally, I got a copy of "Plum Spooky" (a Between the Numbers book) which I actually enjoyed, which lead me to her new series called "Lizzie & Diesel" which at the moment has 2 books to its name. Taking place in Salem, MA, the books deal with a woman named Elizabeth who works as a baker and a kinda enchanted guy called Diesel, who is on a quest of sorts. It's all spelled out on Evanovich's website. Check out www.evanovich.com/novels/wicked-series/ for more details. Or not.

Having said the "H" word, I'm off to get breakfast and maybe feed the cats as well.