Monday, May 26, 2008
Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain
How is this book not more popular? This 1930s tale of a divorced lady in Los Angeles, struggling to make a decent living with two daughters, is fabulous for a) bootleg scotch; b) Mildred's prosaic "do what you have to do" approach to men and money; c) daughter Veda's Gossip Girl-level evil behavior; d) all the fraught class-consciousness of L.A., which I think is . . . pretty much the same seventy-five years later. I swear, if you multiplied all the monetary sums by 10 and published this as a paperback with a stilletto on the front, you would have a best-seller. This is one of my favorite books of the last few years. Who is this James M. Cain? And what else has he written? Next, I must see the movie, and if anyone finds that pulp fiction edition with the down-to-there dress, please buy it--I'll pay you back!
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
Well, wow. I read this whole book today, on Memorial Day, which seems somewhat appropriate, given Afghanistan's role in recent American military action. The book's dust jacket uses typically overblown words like "breathtaking" "heart-wrenching" and "striking," and, well, yeah. For once, those are totally apt descriptions. It's the story of two women ensnared by the various regimes vying for political control, and you feel their suffocation. Imagine not being able to go to school, go to a store, walk on a street, visit your family, travel out of town, have a job, wear anything but a head-to-toe covering....I just kept thinking about what I would do in such a situation. Even though the reality is very grim, it also presents these characters as completely real beings, with friends and crushes, tempers and beliefs. It's when you think of the two characters followed in this story and multiply it by ten million women that it really becomes breathtaking. Somehow I never read The Kite Runner--now that's next on my list.
Hope you are having a good holiday weekend, those of you in the U.S. It feels like summer now.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
On Sunday, we went to West Hartford, the swanky city cousin to poor Hartford's country mouse. Recently a "shopping experience" opened, one of those new downtown-like shopping centers that are usually placed next to or in the downtown that was destroyed by shopping centers. We live in dangerous times. But anyways, it also has a super huge Crate and Barrel with an escalator and cool zappy wands that you use to register for gifts!
But you guys, I had no idea that the awesome responsibility would be so overwhelming. In choosing plates, you worry that you will accidently get the kind that can't be microwaved and has to be massaged with a soft cloth rather than tossed in the dishwasher. You worry that you will choose the wrong set of pans, one given only the shameful "recommended with reservations" in Cooks Illustrated, and you will have to live for the rest of your life with a non-ergonomically designed handle or something. In two areas, however, the Cupcakes really excel at making choices: gadgets and drinkware. I think I registered for an avocado splicer or something. And I know we registered for miniature martini glasses. Even so, after an hour we were too confused to look at mini-muffin pans and placemats and decided to do more zapping next weekend.
Any recommendations for "must have" items that I might not think of? I wish you could register for booze.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
We seek your opinion
1. Leaves! On trees!
2. The OC, Season 1. Chrismukkah to Yogalates, it remains a perfect gem. I like to think it ended right there.
3. Obsessively reading Paris guidebooks. I bought three slightly out-of-date ones at the library book sale this weekend, plus one really out of date one (1950). I assume, however, that stuff like Notre Dame and the Catacombs don't change too terribly much in 58 years.
4. Registering for gifts! So materialistic. SO MUCH FUN!
5. String cheese. I forgot how good string cheese is.
Things that are grrrrrr:
1. Mr. Cupcakes and I have a dilemma. In our wedding invitations, on the "info" card, he wants to write
"please be prepared for a short but sweet ceremony, followed by cocktails, dinner, and dancing."
My feeling is that "be prepared" conjures up notions of homeland security, upcoming exams, and boy scouts. Mr. Cupcakes feels that "be prepared" conjures up none of these things, and simply lets guests know to expect. This is ripping our future marriage apart! In his words, "I'm fully willing and able to remove the phrase, but I think you're wrong."
Weigh in, please. Our domestic bliss depends on it! Alex says Buckles is depressed too. I'm simply not prepared for a depressed cat.