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December 2004
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February 2005

100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women

I'm all for supporting female novelists, and Feminista!'s "100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women" is well worth checking out. Myself, I'm good on 19th century novels (ooh, I love me some Brontes), but it's pretty shocking how many of these I have yet to read.

However, I can strongly recommend the following from the Feminista list -- all of which are appropriate for teenagers who know the facts of life, and all of which are reasonably fun reads and won't make you feel like you're in some horrible boring class on Literature with a capital "L."

Rebecca (for thrills) by Daphne Du Maurier
Possession (for history and passion) by A.S. Byatt
The Women's Room (for feminist awakening) by Marilyn French
The Talented Mr. Ripley (for more thrills) by Patricia Highsmith
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (for laughs) by Anita Loos
The Shipping News (for thought) by E. Annie Proulx
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (for controversy) by Muriel Spark
The God of Small Things (for being carried away to another place) by Arundati Roy
The Joy Luck Club (for a good cry, and if your mother drives you nuts) by Amy Tan

Happy Reading!


A year-end survey. Fun. Late.

A year-end Survey. I’m a bit late, but I can never resist this sort of thing.

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
I made a pineapple upside-down cake. I learned to edit digital video.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I kept my single resolution reasonably well. But there was some downsliding. I'm still deciding on a resolution for 2005 – but I try to pick something manageable. Like one year, I resolved to shut cabinet doors.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes. Lots of people.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. Only one person.

5. What countries did you visit?
England. Ooh, does Florida count as another country? It feels rather like one.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
More physical energy.

7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Frankly, it is all rather a blur.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing a novel: Fly on the Wall.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I do not think of myself as failing. I think of myself as working on stuff.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just the usual flu. I'm tremendously lucky.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My first sofa. A plane ticket to see my very ancient grandmother.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The American voting public, re: the issue of gay marriage.

14. Where did most of your money go?
To the tax man. After that, medical insurance. After that, mortgage. But I did spend a rather shocking amount on clothes, directly following a new book deal.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I pet a deer. A DEER. For a long time!

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
I don't have an answer.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? same
- richer or poorer? richer
- thinner or fatter? same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How did you spend the holidays?
Sick with the flu.

21. Did you fall in love in 2004?
I stayed in love.

22. How many one-night stands?
Excuse me?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Pimp My Ride.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
The Most of P.G. Wodehouse. As it says on the cover, "it is impossible to be sad while reading Wodehouse" – and I find that to be true.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
Audrey Hepburn meets Rosie the Riveter

28 Whom did you miss?
My three best friends from high school – but I got to see two of them.

29. Who was the best new person you met?
Heather. But maybe that was in 03. I'm not sure.

30. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004.
Imparting valuable life lessons is a sure way to make other people annoyed with you.

DM's Boyfriend List

A reader I'm calling DM sends in this poetic, dramatic, and comic boyfriend list -- all that and it's only five guys long!


DM's Boyfriend List

1 - A:   Love at first sight (I was nine). The curly, slightly greasy-haired Grecian boy with sandy eyes who wrote poetry and smoked cloves at seventeen. I saw him the day before I left for summer camp at age thirteen and wished him a happy fourth of July. The day after I came back home, a week later, I was told that night that he had shot himself in the head that morning.

2 - M:   The literal Boy Next Door when I was eleven. I had obsessive dreams of kissing him since we first met, none of which were fulfilled. My best friend, then, was of a very competitive nature and had a thing for him too. Of course. One night while M and I had been sledding until a heinously dark, late hour - at least seven PM - I felt for sure The Perfect Moment To Kiss was imminent. Quite abruptly, M picked up his sled, gave a wave (a flick of the wrist, really) and hollered that he was going in to get some supper. As for myself, I went straight into my room and I called my best friend to tell her that I had just gotten my first kiss on a moonlit sled date.

3 - J:   My first real love. Pined away for him for a year while we were simply best friends and he was getting over his last girlfriend. After a year of that, he was the first boy who ever said he loved me and to whom I said "I love you." And I did. We teetered along in a friend-in-love stage for two years, until he suddenly became sullen and quiet with me and I found out that he had been dating someone for three months. He insisted that he didn't know how to tell me this. I pined (this time alone) for another half a year, and if he just showed up on my doorstop tomorrow, I'd still probably be hard-pressed not to totally make out. He was the moody, artistic, ADHD boyfriend everyone has to have at least once to remind them of how much fun it is to be so passionate for one minute and then have a full-blown argument the next. It's the stuff novels are made of, really. Essential.

4 - B:   Not technically a boyfriend, since we never dated and I didn't like him. I mean, I liked him a lot. But I didn't, like, Like-like him. He followed me around in college for three years, pledging his love, devotion, and unending loyalty. He asked my parents (on two separate occasions) if he could marry me when I decided to "come around" to his way of thinking. Towards the end I was starting to experience the guilt of constantly being the Pseudo-Dumper in what wasn't even a relationship, as well as feel the pressure of the nagging fear that I might be letting the last train pass me by, so to speak. However, I stuck to my guns and we said our goodbyes as he left to go home after the last day of classes had ended. He handed me a ring he had bought and worn while we knew each other, and noted that he would "wait for me." Two months of not hearing from him later, I learned from his sister that he was dating her best friend and they remain hideously happy even now.

5 - M:   Maybe the last train. Not a boyfriend at all really, but he makes it on the list because I wish he could be. He gets his fun from sending me sympathy cards with the depressing poems crossed out and his version of humorous poems written in instead. We have Toothbrush Lightsaber fights in the middle of WalMart. He's from the slow, lazy south and I'm from the rushrushrush north, so he drives slowly and it drives me mad and I drive fast and he clutches the armrests of the car like he's in labor. My first kiss and it tasted just like I thought it would. And he's still not my boyfriend.

Senior Year of High School

Seems like I get half my blogging ideas from Trouble, AKA Literaticat. She did a fun meme on Senior Year of Highschool, and I am following suit.

[What year was it?]
Oh dear. I don't lie about my age, but I don’t think I shall reveal it either. The next question probably makes it clear anyhow.

[What were your three favorite bands?]
The Violent Femmes. The Talking Heads. And though I would never admit it to anyone, I loved Madonna.

[What was your favorite outfit?]
Vintage black dress, shoes with diagonal straps, weird olive green golfing sweater.

[What was up with your hair?]
Oh, dear. A perm.

[Who were your best friends?]
Our names all ended with the "eeee" sound.

[What did you do after school?]
I ate cake at a bohemian coffee shop, or went to ballet class.

[Where did you work?]
No job. Summer after senior year, I worked in a shoe store.

[Did you take the bus?]
I had just – finally – stopped taking the city bus to get around. I had a 1964 Volvo with no radio and no heat. But it was GOOD lookin'.

[Whom did you have a crush on?]
I had the same boyfriend all senior year and didn't admit to any crushes.

[Did you fight with your parents?]
Not especially.

[Whom did you have a CELEBRITY crush on?]
Kevin Bacon.

[Did you smoke cigarettes?]

[Did you lug all of your books around in your backpack all day because you were too nervous to find your locker?]
I didn't know where my locker was, but not out of nerves. Out of apathy.

[Did you have a 'clique'?]

[Did you have "The Max" like Zach Kelly and Slater?]
Does this mean a hangout? The B&O Espresso – which is where Roo hangs out in The Boyfriend List.

[Admit it, were you popular?]
Yes. And I probably didn't use it well.

[Whom did you want to be just like?]
This incredibly chic and oddball stage actress I had met a few times, who had a wonderfully idiosyncratic way of talking, and wild red hair, and a unique commitment to her art. I still know her, and still admire her.

[What did you want to be when you grew up?]
An actress.

[Where did you think you'd be at the age you are now?]
New York City. Which is where I am.

LiveJournal Friends List

I've got a Friends list at LiveJournal -- look in the sidebar on the right for the link. It aggregates all the teen writers I know of who have livejournal accounts (Zoe Trope, Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen, Lara Zeises) plus some posts from a teen literature reading community and an agent who works with YA authors. It'll have new stuff every day, most likely.

ZQ's Boyfriend List

ZQ, a reader and English major, set in this awesome boyfriend list. It's succinct, sad, and very, very funny.
Thanks, ZQ!

-- E

1) Paul
first crush: opened the door for me at church.
started dating my best friend.

2) David
taught me how to play video games.
died in a car wreck when I was 13.

3) Josh
wrote him a note saying I liked his hair.
his mom thought I wanted to have sex with him.

4) Adam
my best friend's older brother.
army man.
totally hot.
got him to escort me to homecoming and I got to hang off of his arm for all of 30 seconds.

5) Andrew
"accidentally" ran into me while playing baseball and got a handful of goodies.
pissed me off enough that we didn't speak for about a year.

6) Jake
liked him for a week or two because everyone else in the youth group was taken.
he was too short.

6) TNO
first semi-relationship.
held hands.

7) Dusty
made me sneeze too much.

8) John
first "real" relationship.
first kiss.

9) Codename Shakespeare
but we only made out once.

10) Codename Amber
but we never made out.

11) Soup-Boy
but he smelled like soup so I didn't call him back.

12) Shenme
and he spoke Chinese.

How Did YOU Get Here?

A few of the recent searches that have landed people here at The Boyfriend List:

should I take my boyfriend on a date to a lacrosse game?
found the playgirl
why didn't boyfriend give christmas present?
why didn't girlfriend give christmas present?

ah, dear.
one year, I had a boyfriend who celebrated Valentines Day by putting an unwrapped used office telephone under my pillow -- a piece of junk his boss was getting rid of.
And I didn't break up with him, either!

Trouble's Boyfriend List

Trouble (aka Literaticat) sent over this awesome Boyfriend List. Wow. She is obviously a woman of great appeal and not afraid of adventure, either!

She writes:

Inspired by E. Lockhart book The Boyfriend List (available in March at your local independant bookseller), I compiled my own. Boyfriend list, that is. It makes my life seem pretty lurid, and it makes me think I need to see a psychiatrist.

Boyfriend List

1. Colin. It was first grade. My friend Nicole and I were obsessed with this kid. By second grade, he started a club, which had an entrance requirement of a kiss. We each kissed him. His mouth tasted like boogers.

2. Name disguised, because you will guess who this is otherwise and I will blush. This was one of my classmates and friends who I crushed on. He could draw Donald Duck exquisitely. He was plucked from our ranks at about age 8 to be the child star of a rather long-running television show.

3. Blake: He was a sixth-grader when I was in fourth. He looked like you think a kid named "Blake" should look: Blond, athletic, and rich. Wow. (He didn’t know I existed).

4. Some camp counselor: I had elaborate fantasies that he was my boyfriend, despite the fact that I was ten and he was probably sixteen. Mrowwwr!

5. Alex?: my best friend in middle school and I both loved this boy named Alex. (I think – actually he may have been another, slightly more ethnic looking, Blake). He was in commercials. One time he had a Halloween party and came to pick me and my friend up in a limo. He didn’t like either of us, though, I think he was just torturing us. There was dry ice in the fruit punch; this was a special effect I had not encountered before.

6. Ozzy: Again, someone my best friend and I both liked (what is up with that?). He liked me. We made out while listening to KROQ. That was the year that "Love Cats" and "When I Think About You (I Touch Myself)" came out. I also wrote him a card every day I was on vacation. He is now completely and totally gay. Coincidence?

7. Jason #1: Another actor. He was so smart and funny. I loved him. He was indifferent to me. I followed him around like a moony calf. Boy, was I a sucker.

8. K: One of Jason #1’s friends. I switched my love onto him. He was achingly smart and not interested in the ladies. He did teach me to play chess and encourage a previously dormant interest in Physics, though.

9. Jason #2: Jason #1’s best friend. A guitar player. Hot. He was also dating a very close friend of mine (I think I need to see my shrink!). We actually had a long, tempestuous relationship for a number of years, which ended when he cheated on me with a third-tier celebrity/model. Then, he and the first girl hooked back up and became heroin addicts together. Yikes.

10. Mitch: Another guitar player.

11. Ed: An opera singer. I was horribly mean to him. He wrote me love letters and I laughed. I don’t know why.

12. Mickey: ANOTHER guitar player. I sang, briefly, in his band. Then he, too, became a heroin addict, and went to jail.

13. Eddie: An older, gangster type guy, who had a huge house where he let me live when I lost my job. He was very sweet and thoughtful… for a gangster.

14. M: Another mobbed-up guy, this one Turkish. We got married and lived together for a year in Turkey so he could get his visa back (long story). We never even kissed, though, because he liked blondes. I guess we are still married, but I don’t know where he is, so…. Hmm. Maybe I should figure that out?

15. A: The Turkish guy with bright blue eyes who escorted me around town while my "husband" ignored me. He looked like Errol Flynn. I told him that I loved him, and I may have even thought it was true, but it wasn’t.

16. Jason #3: A bass player. He was great. I really fell hard for him. This may be the first guy that EVER used the words "My Girlfriend" when introducing me to people (and that includes BFs that I had lived with!). He liked to gamble though. A lot. That was a rough breakup.

17. Mike: Another guitar player (I never even saw these patterns before, I’ll have you know, and it is freaking me out). This one ended fairly quickly, when he revealed that he liked to take speed, dress up in high heels and stockings, and shoot guns. I am not kidding. Later, I chanced to meet this guy’s father. He had a tattoo of a SWASTIKA. I think I may have fainted when I saw that.

I am tired of boys. To hell with the lot of them.

Book Survey, from Literaticat

I got this book survey from Literaticat, whose LiveJournal is subtitled "What the Tuxedo Cats Saw" -- which just slays me, being the utter adoring maidservant to two tuxedo cats myself. Anyway, I'm a sucker for a survey and this one makes you try to be DEEP -- but I just answered with the first things that came into my head.

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

Where Did You Come From? a sex-explanation book for the preschool set. I must have been four.

2. What is your favorite book?

Pride and Prejudice. (You'd never guess it's hysterically funny and achingly romantic from the prissy cover, but it is.)

3. Who is your favorite author?

Jane Austen, PG Wodehouse.

4. Pick up the nearest book (magazine or any available printed material will do). Turn to page 24 (or the closest to it). Go to the 7th line. What is it?

"The prince had put an extra-high polish on his eyepiece and was all set to begin dancing for his doughnuts." -- from Wine, Women & Words by old time theater empresario and one-time husband of comedienne Fanny Brice, Billy Rose. The book, weirdly, is illustrated by Salvador Dali.

5. If you could be any character in literature, who would you be?

I'd like to be Mary Poppins.

Heimel6. Name ten novelists who come to your mind right off the bat as folks you love to read--no snobbery permitted:

1. P.G. Wodehouse
2. John Irving
3. Michael Chabon
4. Jane Austen
5. Charlotte Bronte
6. Charles Dickens
7. Cynthia Heimel
8. Ruth Krauss
9. David Sedaris
10. JK Rowling

Krauss wrote picture books and Heimel and Sedaris write humorous essays, so my list is faulty. So sue me. These are the writers I like!

7. Name three poets that come to mind that matter to you, no "grad seminar mugging" permitted:

I am shockingly unmoved by poetry. The only poet I have read for my own enjoyment in the last five years is Ogden Nash.

Beautymyth8. What three non-fiction books made a deep impression on you?

1. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf
2. Into Thin Air, by John Krakauer
3. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich

9. What three science fiction authors intrigue you this moment?

Hm. I am not much of a SF reader. Can I answer for teen fiction?
In that case:
Lara Zeises -- because I just read the excerpt of her new book, Anyone But You, on her website
Joseph Weisberg -- because I heard him read and the story just knocked me out
Melvin Burgess, because he's so intriguing and fearless, and I haven't read Doing It yet.

10. What is the last mystery novel you read?

N is for Noose, by Sue Grafton (actually, I listened to it on audio; but I figure that counts). I prefer Grafton on audio -- the suspense is greater somehow.