I am buzzing around this week, packing for a cross-country trip. Of course, by “packing”, I mean “Spending most of my time obsessing about my book choices and ignoring the empty open suitcase”. I’m thinking it’s time for a re-read of Helter Skelter, and I am also thinking it’s likely I’ll forget to bring shoes.
My travel strategy for books? Invite a diva. Here’s how I do it:
Parking is basic geometry, right? To prevent chaos and to maximize space, we’ve devised a simple system whereby you are obligated to maneuver your rectangle-shaped car into a larger car-shaped rectangle. Not too complicated, yet based on my observations that I make in every parking lot I enter, parking a car is either so easy an single-celled organism lacking opposable thumbs could do it blindfolded, or so difficult that a single-celled organism could have a master’s in applied math from MIT and still not be able to keep those wheels appropriately parallel and perpendicular. Any parking lot, anywhere, will prove that some people aren’t feeling the rectangles. Some people are just out there rhombusing and trapezoiding through life, and if they take up multiple parking spaces in the process, you just need to stand back and understand not everyone fits into your little rectangle world, KAREN. The rebels are here, and they are coming for all the parking spaces.
That same feeling of sticking it to the man comes over me every time I wander away from my planned reading list. There is a me with a proper TBR stack and a detailed calendar allotting each book its appropriate reading time. Then there is a me that is easily distracted by shiny book covers and friends who say “Hey have you read this? You will love it!” The back and forth between these two versions of me is vicious and bloody except there is no blood and I’m really nice to me all the time and I win no matter what because I’m reading, but still. VICIOUSNESS. BLOOD. FLAUNTED GEOMETRY.
The me that chases the book squirrels won the latest round, because as I was engaged in some light Kondo-ing, I unearthed a copy of Henry James’s Daisy Miller and Other Stories that I purchased at a used bookstore and promptly forgotten about. Woot! I pressed pause on the next planned book from my TBR stack, and in the spirit of trying to keep it fun and footloose in 2019, I decided to give myself a little reading challenge. Nothing from my TBR stack allowed, and I had to find two more books with ‘daisy’ in the title. A quick Google search later and it was ON, Daisy-style.
Daisy Miller and Other Stories-Henry James is an attention whore and I love him for it. His signature writing style is basically “I WILL GIVE YOU ALL THE PAGES AND YOU WILL SUFFER AND THANK ME” and he’s not wrong. I read his novel Portrait Of A Lady eleventy-billion years ago and I still think about that book once a week. Henry James wrote a bunch of other stuff that I need to get around to (The Ambassadors, I am coming for you, I swear) but thanks to Marie Kondo, this Henry James Wheel Of Fortune spin landed on Daisy Miller, a Gilded Age novella about a wealthy, unconventional American girl traveling through Europe with her wealthy, unconventional family. Daisy’s story is told to us by Winterbourne, a conventional American living in Europe with his conventional family and guess what? Opposites attract. Daisy operates with all the subtlety of a roller derby to as she attempts to navigate the formal, structured society of the American wealthy who settled across the pond at the turn of the century. Her brashness and candor, qualities exalted in America, make her too American as she struggles to find a place in the Old World. Winterbourne, by turns, admires and is exasperated by Daisy, and he’s powerless in the face of her charm. Daisy Miller hits all the Henry James high notes that I love-a little bit sinister, a little bit snobby-so to answer your question, yes, it sparked a buttload of joy.
Please Don’t Eat The Daisies – Jean Kerr was an Irish American author and Tony Award-winning playwright. Married to drama critic Walter Kerr, she wrote humorous essays about her domestic life as wife to Walter and mother to their four boys. Her 1957 essay collection, Please Don’t Eat The Daisies, made her a household name when it was adapted to the big screen with the 1960 Doris Day/David Niven movie “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” and the small screen with a television series of the same name. Having been within three feet of a television in the past four decades, I have seen the movie “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” multiple times. It pops up once every few months…perhaps mandated by local ordinance? Or due to great work by Doris Day’s PR team? I have no idea, but I’d always harbored mild curiosity about the source material and thanks to my Square Peg Round Daisy Reading Challenge, I finally made the time. Kerr’s work is funny and relatable, assuming that you, too, are a fixture of the Broadway community who decides to purchase a castle in Connecticut when you finally make the move out of your New York apartment. Not all of the essays in this book survive the journey from 1957 to 2019-I spent a lot of time looking up references so I could get the joke-but Jean Kerr’s sparkle and dry wit are clear.
Daisy Jones & The Six-This is the newest book by novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid and the first book I have read by this author. Let me say, oh so happily, that I picked the right time to tag in. You don’t have to be obsessed with VH1’s “Behind The Music” (which I am) or Rob Sheffield’s kinetic music-centered memoir Talking To Girls About Duran Duran (which I am) to completely fall into this flashback history of the fictional seventies rock band The Six, but it definitely helped me love it that much more. The book’s structure allows for each member of the band to tell the story of the rise and fall of the wildly successful The Six during the late 70s, the time when the music industry defined stadium rock. It’s a fascinating character study, a riveting story, and a commentary on the unique demands of fame and talent, and it was an absolutely delicious reading experience. I give it 10 out of 10 Fleetwood Macs.
Challenge completed, so it’s back to my nice, rectangular TBR stack.
I forgive you-I forgive all of you-for the daisy chain jokes you made in your head the whole time you were reading this.