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Fly is Finished!

Fly on the Wall is the story of Gretchen Kaufman Yee
(art student, collector of weird objects, comic-book fan, romantic),
who wishes one day that she could be a fly on the wall of the boys' locker room,
just to know what the hell they talk about in there,
what makes them tick.
And the next thing she knows: she is.
A fly on the wall.
In the locker room.
And she can see EVERYTHING.
She finds out all the deep dark secrets of the sophomore boys, and becomes an expert on the mysteries of the gherkin.
and it's DONE!
I'll have to revise, of course, after my wonderful editor reads the thing --
but it is DONE done done and there is no better feeling.
It'll come out in January 2006, or thereabouts.

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

I can't believe it took me this long to read Stargirl. I really liked it in that it made me THINK about the fine line between performing kooky behavior and being genuinely motivated to do something bizarre. Stargirl is this extraordinarily unusual girl, who alternately captivates and repels the students of a staid Arizona high school by playing the ukelele, cheering for the other team, and wearing bizarre outfits. She falls in love with Leo, the narrator, but he ultimately can't abide being a social outcast, and breaks up with her. In an interview at the back of the paperback, Spinelli says Stargirl is meant to illustrate how we would be if we weren't bound by social convention -- she is who we are, inside. But I found the book more complicated than that -- because she cared passionately for other people and YET interrupted their business drawing attention to herself (by dancing across the field at a football game, for example). Or she'd play ukelele and sing to them on their birthdays, without caring how embarassed they were. Or attend funerals of people she didn't know, because she felt moved reading about the death in the paper; but then, not understanding why they'd be hurt to have a stranger at the ceremony.

Stargirl_1So she's empathy, but she's also very often more interested in her own entertainment or her own feelings than in those of others; and she's certainly performing her unusualness, in the way teenagers so often do, even if the performance is also genuine.

The book does fall in to the kooky-girl-liberates-ordinary-man genre, which does kind of rub me the wrong way. Movies like Along Came Polly; Something Wild; Annie Hall; Addicted to Love. I always wonder, as I did in Stargirl, why the girl picks this ordinary boy. And winsomeness can wear thin, after a while.

But: it really is extremely thought-provoking and different in many ways from the usual young adult romances -- though a romance it is. Check it out.


Clinton, King, and Hugh Grant: NL's Boyfriend List

NL warns me her boyfriend list is
1) Imaginary and
2) Ever-changing.
In any case, it's very thought-provoking. Powerful men can be sexy even if they're way too young, way too old, or dead. Is this true for women and girls, as well?

NL's Imaginary Boyfriend List

1. Martin Luther King Jr.
Totally hot, sexy, powerful, SO nice. And boy could that guy give a speech! It makes me weak in the…knees. Just the knees! (I’m lying)

2. Bill Clinton
Yeah, you know, sexy, powerful. He seems to have good intentions although the Rwanda situation confused me. He’s not so good looking, but I have a feeling when he talks to you, you forget that pretty quickly.

3. Prince Harry
Okay, hello sweetest thing ever to be born! Not only is he adorable, and off saving children in Africa, and raising money for AIDS babies, he’s h-o-t HOT.

4. John Mayer before I met him (briefly)in person
Pre seeing him in person: Sensitive, voice that made me think he could relate to anything I had to say (just me, not every other girl), down to earth and super hot. After meeting him: Self obsessed, narcissistic, a-hole with an enormous cranium. But I loved him so much pre-meeting I couldn’t leave him off the list.

5. Latrell Sprewell
Totally hot, just as misunderstood, adorable, well spoken, sweet, see I told you he was misunderstood, looks like he feels wounded by the rest of the world and needs me (just me, not every other girl) to fix him. Note: I do not have emotional problems.

The rest of the list is really in any order:
Joaquin Phoenix (no explanation necessary) Hugh Grant (sorry)Justin Timberlake (again, sorry, but he cried when he was on Punk’d. that’s just adorable with a capital A.) Eminem (he’s very angry)(I still don’t have emotional problems)

Son of the Mob, by Gordon Korman

My latest read. Vince Luca is the son of a New York mafia boss. He wants no part of the family's "vending machine" business -- but someone's running a betting racket through his "new media" class website project, people who owe his dad money are begging him to accept payments and put in good words for them, and his brother stashes a body in his trunk. All that, and his new girlfriend's father turns out to be the FBI agent who bugs the Luca house and listens in on Vince's every conversation.

The book is by Gordon Korman, and though the girlfriend is somehow devoid of real personality and though Vince isn't the brightest light on the planet (he actually thinks some low-life hoods are going to adopt a financial betterment plan he's laid out for them) -- it's really a fun read. Good for planes, or the beach. It's like the Sopranos, only all about A.J. And there's a sequel out, now, too.

And don't you love the cover?

The Quiz that NP sent me

NP sent me this email the other day with a quiz-like thing that included this association-type thing, which was my favorite part. Here it is:

Write one word that describes how you feel about:


Then how you feel about dogs is how you feel about yourself. How you feel about cats is what you think of your partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/object of desire. How you feel about coffee is how you feel about sex. How you feel about rats is the truth about your enemies.

I said, enthusiastic; loving; necessary; misjudged.

NP's Boyfriend List

This is my friend NP's boyfriend list. She is the best-dressed person I know and can also make REALLY, really funny faces. Thanks, NP!

Errol Flynn – I just adored him and I'm sure he would have loved me back. It wasn't until I was 10 that I found out he was already dead. Okay, early disappointment, but I am ever hopeful.

Leonard Whiting – Again, another movie star several years my senior. He looked great in hose, but it was a disappointment to this 13 year old.

Tom – He was shy red-head who was soooo cute. The problem was that I never spoke to him except in my journal. I wrote him letters when he went to college, but I don't think he knew who I was.

Eric – Was so pretty. He played for the other team, but at least he was a real person with whom I shared complete sentences.

Edward – The first boy I kissed looked like a cross between Michael York and Mark Lee (from Gallipoli), AND he wanted to kiss me. He wanted to do more than that, I'm sure, but one kiss was all he got.

Ted – I'm getting the swing of this boy stuff. We were in a play together so we had to kiss. I'm not sure what happened to him afterwards? I think he turned into a frog.

David – He was really interesting. H was a writer. He traveled to India. He lived in New York City. He reeeeeeaaally liked me. He had a girlfriend.

Jim – He was handsome and came from one of those wealthy New York families who owned a massive 20 room apartments on Central Park with Rothkos hanging on the walls. Unfortunately, I couldn't look at him without thinking of all that money.

Paul – He was my first legitimate boyfriend who I liked and who liked me back. Unfortunately, none of my friends liked him, maybe because he was stoned all the time. It lasted 4 months.

Sebastian – I guess he was really my first real boyfriend. We traveled around the world together. He was afraid of long commitments for the entire 7 years we were together. I was not allowed to remind him of how many years it had been. When I did, he moved to Europe.

Ross – He was an actor with a southern accent. He was cute and charming, but a bit a blockhead. We're still friends.

William – He lived in a theater, but he wasn't an actor. He was very handsome. He was sweet. He spent his day fighting various lefty causes, but I never understood what he was talking about.

Albert – He spoke 7 languages and had a clean apartment with lots of books. He was also 15 years too young for me.

Kyle – A musician. Every girl should shun these musical types. They play you like a guitar and then leave you for a song. We're still friends, however.

Christopher -- I saw him at a party and asked him to make out. There was something about him that fascinated me. It took me a year to figure out what it was that was so gripping (long after he'd lost interest in me). Finally I realized that it was because he was the son of god; the second son, the one who DOESN'T inherit the kingdom. Maybe that's why he had such a big chip on his shoulder. Okay that was just a weird phase I was going through.

Alexei – Kyle's best friend and another musician. I kissed him the day he broke up with his girlfriend. We got along really well. We were going to go to South America together until he told me he had started taking tango lessons with Jessica and wasn't that a funny? I was not amused.

Still looking…

Recording The Boyfriend List Audiobook

Last week I went the recording of the audiobook! They ushered me into this room which has a glass wall -- and behind the wall was an actress (Mandy), who SOUNDS like Roo but looks nothing like her and is much older (though far from old; she's just not fifteen). In the room with me were the director, a sound engineer (who had never heard of the pencil test! He was a guy, though), and the producer.

Mandy was reading the part about going to the Homecoming dance with Angelo, and then the bit about Jackson picking Roo up after lacrosse practice -- so I got to hear her Jackson voice.

There was a debate about how to say the word "cauliflower" -- I say "cau-lee-flower" but Mandy says "caul-uh-flower," and I thought the "uh" sounded more west-coast, but Mandy turned out be from Pittsburgh. So we didn't know what Roo would say. She recorded both.

They can just pop a word in -- it's all done digitally. So Mandy just said the name of the vegetable two different ways and the sound technician will edit in whichever version they decide sounds right.

Also, they record with big gaps between sections -- and then shorten the pauses later, during editing. I guess it gives them more control.

Right now the plan is just to have it on CD and tape, but not in downloadable format. I'm making a play for downloadable, though. I listen to audiobooks constantly and I've never bought one that I didn't download.

My Own Boyfriend List

I have a good ten people who have promised to send me boyfriend lists, and they are all delinquent! Maybe they're harder to write than I imagine. My friend NP says that she got bogged down when she got to the boyfriend she believed (temporarily) was the "son of god."

Anyway, I know hers will be juicy when she gets around to finishing it, and for the time being I'll pony up my own list:

Boys from Before I Turned Eighteen, including many unofficial entries

1. He asked me out when I was wearing a poodle skirt on fifties day. We "went together" for three weeks, during which we never once touched one another or spoke on the telephone. He broke up with me by telling all his friends and letting it get back to me through the grapevine.
2. I just thought about him all the time and he never once looked at me.
3. I gave him my number and said he should call me, but when he did I felt this sickening feeling like he just suddenly grossed me out, so I said we should just be friends.
4. We held hands and went out for cake together, but I didn't think he was anything like a boyfriend until later, looking back.
5. He held my hand at a party, called and took me out, kissed me, and then didn't seem to remember who I was when I called him! Then, when I transferred to his school a while later, I found out he'd told everyone I was a great girl and acted like he knew me well.
6. I asked him to a dance, and he said "absolutely." Then we made out in his car. But by the time the dance occurred three weeks later, we had already broken up.
7. He had dated two of my friends, and we called him "the stupid mod" -- but he wanted to go out, so out we went. I liked him. I just didn't like kissing him.
8. I was crazy about him. I think he was crazy about me. I met his mom. He had a mowhawk. But he had gone out with one of my best friends, and she made it clear she was never getting over him -- so nothing ever happened. Later, he became a rock star.
9. He asked me to a dance and I couldn't believe he even knew who I was. We went out for six weeks, and he dumped me at a party where I had no other way to get home except with him and his friends. I rode in the back seat, crying the whole way home.
10. He brought me a candy ring and drove home from school, and I still didn't realize he liked me until years later -- when we dated for a very long time.
11. Summer drama camp. I'm saving this one for an upcoming book called Drama-Rama.
12. I found love with a guy who wore velvet shorts to school and hadn't cut his hair in two years. The whole thing was difficult and magical and broke my heart many times over.

Teen Idol, by Meg Cabot

I have the utmost respect for Meg Cabot, because she has made me laugh SO often. The Princess Diaries have such a great voice and I love how geeky everyone is. All American Girl had a really compelling romance and a fun, surprising story.

But Teen Idol doesn't quite do it for me. I think Cabot's speciality is making fantasies come true (you are really a princess! your boyfriend is the president's son and you're a national heroine!) -- but in this case, the fantasy (a movie-star is your friend!) is just not as compelling as the others, maybe because the star doesn't come across as a real person -- or maybe because the characters are less specific in general.

For example, Jenny is the friends-with-everyone good girl, and her best friend is a drama queen. Whereas the characters in Princess Diaries don't fit into cliché slots like that.

But maybe the trouble that having a movie-star as a friend wouldn't actually be that fun. Yeah, she gets to ride on a motorcycle and have paparazzi bother her --- but that's about it. Nowhere near as fun as being a national heroine and having a hottie white house boyfriend.


It's still better than a lot of wanna-be Meg Cabot books. My favorite part is how they have to sing "As Long as He Needs Me" in show choir (it's a song from the musical Oliver) and when the words go: "I'll cling on steadfastly," they all substitute "I'll Klingon steadfastly."

To Klingon, as a verb. What could it mean?
Whatever. Thinking about it makes me giggle.