Sunday, December 18, 2011

3 Books In A Week

I read a lot and don't normally do book reviews but I had to make an exception for the three most recent reads. I highly recommend all of them.

I don't really know where to even start but I will say that any female over the age of 13 should be *REQUIRED to read Tina Fey's "Bossypants."
Really, I mean this. Go buy it, do not pass go.
Priceless AND essential. Go! Why are you still here!!??

I LOVE Tina Fey!

Of Particular Note -

A) "Poem from a Mother to It's Daughter" - no I am not going to copy it here, go buy the book. Remember *REQUIRED reading for 13 and up females. Even your teenage daughter will appreciate you after reading this - between texts and the overuse of "like" - for at least a couple of seconds and then she will promptly forget it until she has her own child. But if you die in the night she will run scrambling for it, keenly aware that behind all your mad ranting and raving and perceived craziness regarding her safety and well being you were a sheep in wolf's clothing and she was your little lamb. Mother Tiger is not an overrated use of your skills. Work it. Baa.

B) "A Celebrity's Guide to Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ" - hilarious, timely.

C) "That's Don Fey" - no doubt I loved this because I have an Alpha male father and I married one as well. Your teenage daughter should read this one too.

P.S. "Me Time" in the Chapter "There is a Drunk Midget in my Living Room" actually almost caused me to pee in my pants. In paperback very soon!

Next up was so sad I had to reread "Bossypants" twice to shake it off.

It is tragedy with equal portions devoted to dealing with the death of an only child and growing old beyond the point where one can reliably count on mind and body.
Joan is brilliant. I have read all of her books. "The Year of Magical Thinking" written after the death of her dear husband John was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. This one was equally moving but such a harrowng account of this time in her life and all she has lost that it left me breathless. I cried a few times. I cry occassionally when I think about it now - what it means to be alone and what can happen when the natural order of things gets upside down. She is so honest about her delusions, failing memories and perceived short comings as a mother and yet it comes to us as though through a kaleidiscope of her equal forthrightness about the increasing, small failures of her physical and mental capacities brought on by age and the unspeakable losses she has endured in a very short span of time. These all fold in on eachother in a poetic, spinning narrative. It is heartbreaking. It haunts me. We all like to believe that we do the best we can with our children. I have long chosen to believe that if you really love them, are present in the deepest sense of the word, as honest as possible about yourself and pepper life with humor they will love you back and be there when needed despite any shortcomings or personal quirks you may possess that drive them crazy. God forbid they die first and leave you alone and frail and vulnerable beyond imagining. Not one for the faint of heart but an important book - this account of the death of Quintana Roo and Joan's own faltering health as she tries to make sense of her life - past, present and future - without her two most beloved.

Next up, Jane Fonda. Whew!

This one left me exhausted and feeling fairly lucky to have such a boring life. She is a fascinating woman and there was so much I did not know. Both inspiring and cautionary. This particular version was written by Patricia Bosworth, her only female biographer and is quite thorough and intensely researched. "The Private Life of a Public Woman" is the perfect subtitle. Intimate and exhaustive and did I mention exhausting?
Jane, I love you but you make me very tired. A really fascinating read and a triumph of how to reinvent oneself over and over again. You will never believe it can't be done after this one. Oh to have a sliver of that energy and discipline - minus the larger than life demons thank you very much.

I did notice in reading these last two books that Vanessa Redgrave and Coco Chanel (or rather her clothes) kept popping up so I want to read about them both next. I guess I am on a powerful woman kick these days. It all seems very appropriate as I saunter towards midlife in continual pursuit of striking a balance among the roles I juggle day in and day out in the shadow of a double standard that may have dulled it's edge with time but still exists for women who have demanding careers, goals and a family. If anyone tries to tell you it gets easier, they are lying but all of the women featured here had a hand in paving the way.

This one is already downloaded on the Kindle and promises to be a stomach turner. I can't wait!

However, other than a subpar autobiography by Vanessa Redgrave written the year I was married, there does not seem to be a suitable or worthy account available yet of the brilliant actress, political activist and always controversial figure. What strikes me right now is that Vanessa was playing Joan on Broadway in "The Year of Magical Thinking" while Joan was mourning the loss of her daughter. While Joan was working on "Blue Nights," Vanessa lost her own daughter Natasha, tragically and unexpectedly.

It is not a bond to envy but a harsh reminder to hold your loved ones tight and try not to muck it up too much in the process.

If you just want to keep it on the lighter side, "Bossypants" really is basically everything you need to know about being a successful woman, wife and mother in the modern world and you will still cry -- but only from laughter.
God Bless Tina Fey. Amen.