Odds and Ends and a Bit of Thanksgiving Cheer (A Little Late)

December 1st, 2009

Hi, everybody! (All together now: “Hello, Mrs. LaZebnik.”)

It’s been a while. Sorry about that. I’ve been kind of MIA.  I was finishing up some work and trying to relax over Thanksgiving break–except I wasn’t really relaxing because my deadline was today.

This post was written (as they all seem to be these days) for my bookstore blog, which is why it’s all about things literary.  But there’s some holiday whimsy in here too.  And a dash of me.

I figured this would be a good time to toss out some odds and ends, kind of clear the decks before the major explosion that is the winter holidays. That are the winter holidays?

First of all, run don’t walk to “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Oddly enough, it’s based on what I believe is the only Roald Dahl book that no one in my family has ever read. Maybe that was good: we brought nothing to the movie except a cautious love for Wes Anderson (cautious because we didn’t make it through that last train movie). FMF is wonderful–possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year. It’s lively but not frenetic, whimsical without being cloying, oddly relatable and absolutely gorgeous. As a side note, I have to tell you that after we moved into our current home, a neighbor informed us that Roald Dahl had lived here with his wife, actress Patricia Neal, when she was recovering from her stroke. We’ve changed the house completely, but I still feel like it’s been touched by genius. And so, for that matter, has Wes Anderson.  IMHO.

Moving on. That vampire movie sequel has broken all sorts of records. I haven’t seen it or the previous one because I couldn’t get through the first book in the series. I’m not a difficult reader. I’m the person who reads junky fantasy novels by the boatload. I LOVE an excuse to read something that’s fun and stupid–in fact, every vacation we go on, I look for one of those “lending bookshelves” where people leave the books they read on vacation for others to read, and if I find one, I take the junkiest thing I can find, preferably one with “passion,” “fiery,” or “wicked” in the title. So I’m not haughty and I’m not hard to please. I just hated the writing in that vampire book. I tried to read it twice and didn’t make it more than a few chapters either time. I realize I’m in the minority here and that millions of readers say I’m just WRONG. To each his own, right?  Don’t hate me because I don’t agree with you–there are so many better reasons to hate me.

The only reason I bring up the Vampire Book at all is because this past month I read the first two books of a YA trilogy that’s so kick-ass brilliant and wonderful, it leaves this other one in the dust.   Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games and Catching Fire are two of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever. Read. Three other members of my family share the sentiment. If you haven’t read them, I don’t care how old you are, rush out and get them now.

Go on. Go. I’ll wait for you.

Hi. You get them? Good. You’re in for some happy reading time.

(Disclaimer: I make no profit from either “Fantastic Mr. Fox” or the Hunger Games trilogy. Wish I had a hand in both or either, but I’m just a happy customer.)

Moving on again. I cooked a lot on Thanksgiving. I cooked pretty much the entire meal for 18 people. Despite the huge amounts of food produced, all anyone could say was “Where are the mashed potatoes?” I didn’t make mashed potatoes. I thought sweet potatoes would suffice. Sue me. My point is: I’m still worn out from all that cooking so I figured I’d make the holiday preparations easy on all of us and post the link to the Village Books website where owner Katie O’Laughlin has kindly and painstakingly produced several very useful “best of” lists to send you happily on your way to being the best gifter in your family.  Check it out.

Speaking of Village Books, I walked in there the other day ,and Mia, who works there, looked up and said, “Oh, hi, Claire. Tell Annie the new Peter and the Starcatchers book is out.” Now that’s what I call a neighborhood bookstore. (And, yes, I had to bring Annie back later that day to get the book because she couldn’t wait to read it. Mia knew.)

I cooked and cleaned a LOT over Thanksgiving break–have I mentioned that?  Turkey and stuffing for a million people and every time we pulled out the leftovers, I got to do another load of dishes.

Time to eat more leftovers. At what point are we allowed to wave the white flag, by the way, and just make it all into turkey broth?

Cheers.

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