Saturday, September 8, 2007

This Sucks

A couple of nights ago, I was talking on the phone with a good friend and we were talking about books. I was trying to tell her about some series I'd seen, that was chick lit but was also about vampires. Each one had a punny title like "Undead or Alive" or "Love Sucks" or whatever. I haven't actually read them, but they always looked like they'd be good fun. M had never even heard of them. Is there anyone out there who can supply either a title, an author or the generic name of this series?

For A Good Time

I picked up Feeling Sorry For Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty right after I got done with the very heavy Dahlia's Gone and fell in love with the book immediately. It opened with a letter expressing admiration for the winter holiday of the protagonist, Elizabeth, and inviting her to join their society, The Society of People Who Are Definitely Going To Fail High School (and Most Probably Life as Well) ("It's so impressive, Elizabeth! You had four assignments, an English essay, and a chapter of math to do. And you didn't do one single piece of homework!"). This pretty much set the tone for the book.

The story itself is a fairly pedestrian plotline, basically The Transition To Young Adulthood. But it's the way it's told that makes it so delightful. Moriarty uses a series of letters to tell the story. In addition to The Society of People Who Are Definitely Going to Fail High School, Elizabeth regularly receives letters from The Cold Hard Truth Society, The Association of Teenagers, The Best Friends Club, The Young Romance Association, The Secret and Mysterious Association of All that Is Secret and Mysterious, and The Society of Amateur Detectives, among many others. She also gets notes from her mom, an ad executive, on the fridge, asking her to take care of the laundry and also think of some good things about purple lipstick. The centerpiece is the correspondence between Elizabeth and a Complete and Total Stranger, her pen pal Christina, from a different high school. They were matched up by Elizabeth's English teacher and turn out to be a great pair.

Like I said before, the plot line is nothing special. The Celia of the title has been Elizabeth's best friend since early childhood. Celia is kind of crazy, and as they enter high school, the friendship starts to change. Elizabeth also falls in love with a boy and works out some complicated home life stuff regarding her parents, who divorced when she was little, and the stepbrother she's never met. But I didn't care, and I'm betting you won't either, for Moriarty manages to make it all fresh and fun. Even the sad parts have a sort of sparkle to them. The dust jacket says that Moriarty is an entertainment lawyer, and that this was her first novel. It was published in 2000, though, so I hope she's tried again. I bet Moriarty has more stories in her.

Farewell to Luciano Pavarotti

2007 has been a rough year. First, we said goodbye to Molly Ivins, then to Kurt Vonnegut. Tonight I'm commemorating the life of one who wasn't a literary icon, but still a favorite artist of mine: Luciano Pavarotti. I love his voice, but I also loved the way he made accessible an art form that modern audiences often find boring and elitist. I will leave you with a clip of his final public performance, at the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Torino last year, where he performed his signature "Nessun Dorma", from Puccini's Turandot opera. Please feel free to come back and visit it often, if you like it as much as I do.