Friday, November 30, 2012

My beloved and I went on a delicious walk...

I'm on a major Colette kick this year (see my previous post on the Innocent Libertine). The latest in my readings was The Pure and the Impure, which Colette herself thought of as her greatest work.

"They allow us to be their master in the sex act, but never their equal. That is why I cannot forgive them."

This novel is a difficult one to follow at times as the plot is fairly non-existent as far as I could tell. We follow a woman who relates the many different ways that couples search for love and the difficulties they have at being fulfilled. The biography of Colette that I just finished, Secrets of the Flesh, has a pretty great sum up of this book, "the loves in the Pure and the Impure, who give pleasure but can't receive it, or take it but can't give it, who are mismatched in age, appetite, egoism, and experience - who all feel obscurely cheated."

There are some very memorable characters in this novel that stood out to me. In this book she writes one of the first modern pieces on anorexia with the character Renee Vivien who would walk for miles for days only drinking tea to keep herself thin. There is also a really beautiful tale of two Ladies of Llangollen, young women from the 18th century who fell in love and ran off to live together. I could read a novel about those two.

"In short, what did they want? Almost nothing. Everything."

There is something so alluring to Colette. She talks about love of all kinds with equal seriousness, examines lesbianism, homosexuality, and heterosexuality, along with the relationships we have that are platonic. Even if I am not sure what Colette is trying to tell me at times, I could listen to her go on forever.

"Some people become transformed by riches, others acquire a real life only by impoverishment, their very destitution giving them life."

The characters are even more intriguing after reading a biography of Colette because so many of them are based on very fascinating people that she knew and walked around in the real world. I think I might have to give this one a reread after finishing the biography to try to pick this work apart more.

Side note, I have bought most of my Colette books at Frugal Muse, a little book store in Madison, and they are always surprised that anyone reads Colette anymore. Am I the only one out there?

Monday, November 26, 2012


I came to Too Good To Be True from a review in a magazine. I can't remember which magazine, but I adore the cover art of this book and it is about a writer's journey after success has failed so I jumped on it. Benjamin Anastas had some literary success at the end of the 90's and then is attempting to claw his way back despite his second novel's luke-warm reception.

I had several issues with this short memoir.

One seems to be common in the men's writer memoir book that I have read a bit of this year: the writer does not find the need to have a day job for their creative endeavors, despite having a child. If they were single and child-free, then I could smile at your plight to keep your New York City apartment and have no job security. If you are in your late twenties then to me it is a bummer but an acceptable act to carry your change to the coinstar machine in order to pay for gas. Not so much when you have a kid. Now I am not suggesting that it isn't ok to be poor and be a parent, or if someone is unable to work enough to feed their kid. But I will not and cannot feel bad for Anastas when he, an able-body adult, does not get any job he can get so he can buy the food his kid wants.

The apparent reason that Anastas does not get a day job is the other big problem that I have with this memoir. He wants to be a literary success but does not seem to need to be a writer. He talks about writing as if it has always been something he forces himself to do because he wants the perks of writing a well beloved book. But, I feel no love of writing from him. For some reason he wants that career so badly but he doesn't communicate the way that writing moves him. Without great love or obsession, the sympathetic struggling artist is a hard sell. Which is a shame, because I can glean from this book that Anastas does have skill with writing.

I'm not even going to touch the relationship issues this guy has - ok no, I lie, he tells his ex-wife (pregnant by him) that if she goes away on vacation with another man that she is KIDNAPPING HIS UNBORN BABY.

In other news, my lack of laptop has been solved by Black Friday madness so now back to my regular postings!