After a slow reading stretch, I’ve clipped back in. (Thank you for all of your tips on emerging from a reading slump. The most spiriting suggestion was to give myself some grace in the aggressive reading pace I had set for myself. Where’s the fire?!) A couple notes on the books I’ve recently read:
+I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Lauren Bacall’s memoir — that voice! — though the first portion, written earlier in her life, moves much more quickly and interestingly than the second portion, written later in her life, which reads more like a series of obituaries for the beloved friends that preceded her in death. Still, an elegant, bright, generous woman with fetching humility.
+I am now nearly done listening to one of Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket series books, which has been kind of the most delightful thing ever. Sort of a thriller-meets-beach-read (thriller with training wheels? not particularly scary or dark), the main attraction here is imagining the spectacular setting and luxe lifestyle. Absolute perfect escape while my mind is spinning with all of the decisions and logistics in front of us. I have loved unwinding to this book while washing the dishes, walking Tilly, showering. Diversion! Next on my audiobook list: intrigued to listen to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (one of my favorite books from my high school years and I’ve read and loved other Du Mauriers since — a fantastic thriller) and The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, a newish thriller that seems to have all the markings of a good Gothic novel. (“An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.” Someone goes missing, yadda yadda, it looks fun.)
+Now onto the meat: No One Is Talking about This by Patricia Lockwood. I found this book exceptionally challenging. I wrote that Shuggie Bain was difficult to read, but Lockwood took “difficulty” to an entirely different level. I found the first half insufferable — irreverent, self-absorbed, inane, occasionally disgusting, and in its free-wheeling, wildly allusive stream-of-consciousness format, unfriendly (though not un-artful) to the reader — and the second half emotionally unbearable, as I wept and wept and wept while reading it. Trigger warning and spoiler alert: it involves a baby born with an ultra-rare and terminal medical condition. In a sense, the second half made the first half worth wading through, as the trauma and grief of the niece’s birth and death incite deep and meaningful reflection. What is life? Are we entitled to expect certain things of it? Why did this happen? But even harder to witness: the raw grief and love that consumes the narrator and her sister as they care for a baby born dying. Because my family lived through a somewhat similar situation, I was profoundly distraught by this and the memories it dredged up. The book was, simply, emotionally untenable for me. Whew. I cannot determine whether I am glad I read it or not. From an artistic standpoint, Lockwood is undeniably talented — brilliant, even. I respected though did not enjoy the intertextual wilderness of the first half of the book, and I admire the sharp, brave intellect and enormous heart she demonstrates as she navigates unthinkable tragedy. But you have been warned: this is about as difficult as reading can be.
+I think I am going to read the heavily-touted Klara and the Sun by Nobel prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro next, which tells the story of “Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.” This book is getting a lot of press.
+On the TV front, we’ve been watching “Lupin,” a gentleman thief series in which a Bond-Bourne-like protagonist sets out to avenge his father for an injustice inflicted by a wealthy family. The series is in French, and I always find subtitles mildly off-putting at first, but I quickly forgot I was reading them and found myself thoroughly absorbed in the clever and fast-paced action. Highly recommend. We also watched the four (!) hour (!!) “Justice League” superhero flick on HBO. Possibly to your surprise, I don’t mind superhero movies — they are endearing in their own way, a part of Americana, and interesting to think about as manifestations of cultural yearning back at the time of their inception in the conformist, lockstep 1950s. Mr. Magpie and I recently talked about whether these movies are counter-cultural or not — interesting to ponder. Anyway, the movie was way too long and we discussed whether it would have been easier or harder to watch if marketed as a four-part series instead of a four-hour movie. (Funny how Mr. Magpie and I often ask each other: “is it a movie night or a TV show night?” when we will end up more or less watching the same out of of screen time regardless of format — it’s either two hour-long episodes or one two-hour long movie, so what’s the difference? But there is a difference!) Still, I didn’t mind the superhero flick — explosions, attractive mega-stars, imminent doom to set the pace, and occasionally amusing script-writing.
What are you reading and watching?
+Adorable pearl and wicker bag. I almost prefer it in the black — is that shocking? What is even happening? Has Manhattan gotten to me finally? I also love this $36 basket bag with the little gingham handle!
+Scalloped, pintucked blouse. I’d rate this highly as a Zoom-friendly top. Interesting details but still professional.
+In case you’re new in these parts and haven’t yet heard me blather on about it, treat yourself to this counter spray, which smells like heaven and makes cleaning almost enjoyable.
+If you’re looking for more audiobook recs, all my faves here.
+On a related note: my favorite laundry products. An update to this post: this is the best starch on the planet and these wool dryer balls are just the best for so many reasons, including that they help bulky items like towels and sheets dry much more evenly and quickly, and without as many wrinkles, because the balls keep the fabric from clumping up.
+Tuckernuck now carries Pink City Prints, which I know many of you love (!) — this dress and this dress are dreamy for everyday wear in the summer. Sort of an elevated version of the Amazon nightgown dress we all wore last summer. What I like about this style of loose-fit, blockprint dress is that they are easy to move in, with no straps or cleavage situations or short hemlines to contend with. Great for chasing little ones around.
+I have saved and featured the Etienne furniture series from Frontgate about 10,000 times but I really cannot stop thinking about this seafoam green dresser. Just so interesting and unusual.
+My goodness are these children’s pajamas sweet. An alternative to Petite Plume.
+This grocery list is so up my mom’s alley, I can’t even tell you.
+In case none of the pairs in this list met your fancy, these $38 shades in pink are SO good.
+A lemon wall basket – would be cute by a backdoor for things like gloves, mittens, face masks, etc for little hands to reach on their own.
+This rainbow kickball has made us the most popular family at the playground. I don’t know what it is about the design that every single child is drawn to. There was one day we almost gave it away to a little boy, who was crestfallen when we were packing up to head home!
+LaCoqueta continues to reign supreme in the beyond perfect children’s occasionwear category. I have so many precious pieces from here that mini has worn. I adore this gingham baby set and I have my eyes on these for mini for this spring. And this is beyond for the Fourth of July.
+Just bought these inexpensive tortoise hair clips.
+More book suggestions here.
+More recent musings on things I’ve read and watched here.
+Looking for new fitness finds? Will be refreshing this roundup soon with the warmer weather heading our way, too.