Tag: read along


#CloudAtlasAlong: Week One

Posted 2 April, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing, Reading

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Cloud Atlas by: David Mitchell

Parts One and Two

Note: As this is a read along spoilers are gonna spoil ladies and gentlefolk. But it’s gonna be hella fun. Don’t forget to stop by other links in the link-up and definitely visit my lovely co-host Katie at Bookish Tendencies.

If you want to read along later pick yourself up a copy and get thee to your favorite reading nook! 

Note Two: These post may or may not have all the language. But on the bright side, it’ll be colorful. 

Final Note: This post differs from many of those on The Steadfast Reader. (Of course it’s still fabulous.) But if it’s not your cup of tea, just know, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, tomorrow. Also, a proper review will be published on the blog sometime in May. Read along continues every Wednesday in April.

*sigh* Confession. The first two chapters in this novel were a little bit of a trip to Yawnsville for me. I had to read the first sixteen pages three times before I managed to make it stick. I was rather taken by Dr. Goose’s crazy plan to ruin the society lady with the dentures from cannibal teeth, but other than that the journal in chapter one just didn’t grab me at all.

Chapter two picked up for me a little. Who is this guy? Who is Sixtus? I thought it was totally ballsy to hunt down a great composer who was ailing and be all “Dude. I can help you, gimme a job.” and then start banging his wife. But really, what intrigued me was who is Sixtus? And what an interesting name? I’ve over-read into chapter three, but I think that I’m officially hooked now. Keep the faith reader, it picks up.

RuPaul Can't Wait to See How This Turns Out

What about you fellow CloudAtlasAlongers? Any strong feelings yet? Talk to me! Don’t forget to add the link to your post! 

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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#CloudAtlasAlong Sign-ups!

Posted 25 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reading

cloudatlasalong

State your intentions!  …or just sign up, if you’re planning on joining myself and Katie at Bookish Tendencies for the #CloudAtlasAlong. Tweet, write a blog post, whatever! This is really just a dry run to ensure that we can both co-use a inLinkz link-up and to get an idea of how many people might be reading-along with us!

Just a reminder, the schedule of events is:

  • April 2 – Sections 1 & 2
  • April 9 – Sections 3 & 4
  • April 16 – Sections 5 & 6
  • April 23 – Sections 7 & 8
  • April 29 – Sections 9, 10, & 11

So get ready for spoilery-spoiler posts for section 1 and 2 on April 2nd!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: The One Where ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING

Posted 22 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, memes, Reading

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Time // 9:08 EDT

Place // As if you had to ask, couch perch.

Stuff // TONS of things coming up/happening. Let’s take them one at a time.

The Socratic Salon

 

The Socratic Salon

A collaborative project between me, Monika at Lovely Bookshelf, Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books, Shannon at River City Reading, and Jennifer at The Relentless Reader. It’s a new bookish community where our goal is to engender deeper discussions into the books that we read. The site launches in earnest tomorrow (teaser today!) and we’re aiming for our first discussion, on Hausfrau, to go live on Wednesday. Keep your eyeballs peeled because you are probably the most important part of this collaborative effort. (Click on the picture or the title to get to the site.)

 

cloudatlasalong

 

#CloudAtlasAlong

Go get your copy now, because Katie at Bookish Tendencies and I are about to get this ball rolling! You can find the tentative schedule for our fabulous readalong of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas on Katie’s blog here. Can’t wait for you all to join us!

 

Bloggiesta

Bloggiesta

Last but not least, Bloggiesta starts next week. Despite my busy work schedule and all the other stuff happening I’d like to take part as much as I can. So. Goals.

  • Keep plugging my old reviews into the UBB plug-in.
  • Get a few posts written so I have stuff in the queue.
  • Tweak the theme as necessary.
  • Work on some posts for The Socratic Salon with my co-founders
  • Make it to a few Twitter chats!
  • Take a peek at some mini-challenges that might do me some good.
  • Disable Bloglovin’ from posting on Twitter.
  • Backup the blog.
  • Check out and make sure that the blog is interacting with other social media platforms correctly.

 

Whew! I told you there was a lot going on. How’s your week looking, Reader?

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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How to Build a Girl: Endings (Read Along)

Posted 11 August, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

How To Build a Girl by: Caitlin Moran
Read Along! Part Three.

Note: As this is a read along spoilers are gonna spoil ladies and gentlefolk. But it’s gonna be hella fun.

If you want to read along later go to Odyssey Books and get yourself a pre-order! Of course I want to extend a giant thanks to Emily at How the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) and the good people at Harper Collins.


Note Two: These posts are going to have all the language. But on the bright side, it’ll be colorful. Clean readers: This book is not for you.


Final Note: This post differs from many of those on The Steadfast Reader. (Of course it’s still fabulous.) But if it’s not your cup of tea, just know, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, tomorrow. Also, a proper review (one less gushy and with fewer fangirl moments) will be published on the blog sometime in October. Read along continues every Monday until August 11, 2014.


In case you missed it!

How to Build a Girl – Part One
How to Build a Girl – Ch. 5 – 10
How to Build a Girl – Ch. 11 – 15
How to Build a Girl – Ch. 16 – 20

Part Three

Well. I just have to say, I don’t know if this has been Mr. Toad’s Wild 
Ride for anyone else, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.

So at the end of Part Two I thought that Johanna was realizing that her behavior tearing down bands was kind of douchey – but then she continues to act douchey early in chapter twenty one. It’s just not very nice to get people drunk, off the record, and then make fun of their sexual fantasies that they’ve trusted you with. Don’t be a douche, Johanna.



Well, Johanna’s been a douche, so she gets a drink thrown in her face and seems oddly surprised about it. It’s a lesson. Words matter. You know who else is a douche? Kenny. Taking a seventeen year old girl into the bathroom and giving her speed? What the fuck is wrong with these people. But Kenny justifies their douche-baggery and Johanna feels better. Boo, Kenny. Booooo!

I did actually laugh out loud after Johanna blows her nose – thus blowing out her drugs and then asks, “Should I … eat it?” (p. 256)



Johanna becomes the M in the S&M sex with Tony Rich. Who researches S&M at the library? I love Johanna so much. Only tangentially related, I first heard the word ‘masturbation’ on a Roseanne episode and when I asked my parents what it was, I got a very unsatisfactory answer – so I looked it up in the dictionary. So I guess had I wanted to be a lady sex adventurer, I might have gone to the library to research S&M too. Damnit, April.


But, basically we’re back where we were last week – And so we’re back to Johanna not having sex for her own pleasure – but to for the pleasure of the man. Just reference the whole of page 260.


Finally Moran writes in a reminder that Johanna IS seventeen and for all her Lady Sex Adventures – she’s struggling with her feelings for Tony Rich. All the other men seem to be in the periphery, one night stands, but she keeps going back to Rich. In this section much more than the last one, we see Johanna confusing sex with love. Previously – she was using men to gain experience – even if she didn’t understand she should have been enjoying the act as well, she knew she was having casual sex – and she was okay with it. Here, not so much.



Yep. She’s seventeen alright and she has no sense of self … and I don’t think it has anything to do with the lack of mirrors in the house.

Then Krissi tells her how it is. Johanna goes to Krissi, in crisis trying to figure out whether or not Tony Rich is her boyfriend. Krissy: “He’s your smashing posh pedo not-boyfriend.” (p. 263)



Can we stop and talk about the age of consent? It’s really slippery subject that’s a necessary evil to legislate, but I contend that it’s truly different for every person. I’m not sure that 17 to 23 makes Tony Rich a pedophile – but I don’t like him and it has nothing to do with his age.

Before we move on, I want to go back to the scene where Johanna plays her co-workers Dadda’s demo.


I found this scene to be oddly tragic – I think it’s representative of that time in our lives where we finally realize that our parents are just people – they aren’t the all knowing gods and giants that we’ve held them up to be.


Tony Rich’s Parents House – Where Poverty Meets Middle Class.


The whole conversation at the dinner table with Rich’s parents is yet another brilliant commentary showing the juxtaposition between Johanna’s world, where the family barely has enough money to subsist, and upper middle class – where people can sip champagne and laugh at the antics of their black sheep son who chose not to be a lawyer. Similar things happen with Rich’s friends and Johanna’s inner dialogue tells us about her insecurity on the matter. Fabulous commentary.

Okay. Let’s get to the sexy parts.

Johanna’s conversation with Emilia. The subsequent humiliation and the poor poor decision making that the best way to save her pride is to get off with Emilia. She ends up, again confusing her own pleasure with that of someone else. She does what a lot of girls in college did/do – she puts on a show.


In my book – in big capital letters I wrote: this makes no sense!

OF COURSE Rich is into it.
God, he’s such a douche! But Johanna comes back from reapplying her makeup “I am like a dirty goth bride, preparing for her bisexual wedding night.” (p. 274) to find Rich and Emilia have already started. “And suddenly – for the first time in years – I get angry.” (p. 276)



At first I was cheering Johanna on here – because finally! She allows herself to get angry with Tony motherfuckin’ Rich, but then she starts crying and I realize that all this huffing and puffing is a standard teenage heartbreak response – she doesn’t really believe what she’s saying. She still feels less than Tony.


 

Chapter Twenty Three – The Next Day.


I love this realization because it’s the exact opposite of what society teaches girls and women.


Naturally, after coming to terms with the fact that she does indeed have control over her own destiny, she runs to John Kite. …and promptly bursts into tears.

 
YAY JOHANNA!
 


Kite gives her a great pep talk.



Good God. That’s hard cold truth right there. I’ve been biting and scratching my way up, professionally, academically, personally and way too often I tie my self-esteem to my accomplishments, and my self esteem always comes up short. I should emulate Johanna here and put that quote on my mirror.

Kite and Johanna proceed to get incredibly drunk and the last thing we’re treated to before Johanna passes out is her spilling her guts to Kite on how she feels about him. Fade to black. Johanna wakes up the next morning in Kite’s hotel room, it was his turn to sleep in the bath. (p. 285)


Still drunk, with no idea how the night ended, Johanna feels strangely mortified and leaves Kite’s room to (finally) head home. On the bus she picks up a copy of D&ME and reads her own writing.



Johanna has devolved from a blogger before there were bloggers to being a troll before there were trolls. Complete with Godwin’s law.

Upon arriving home, Johanna falls into what can only be described as a deep, black depression. She turns to self harm, and, par for the course, Moran gives us such a great description on why people cut.


Full stop here.

Teenage girls generally don’t just cut once and stop. Just like most people aren’t cured from depression after being lifted from one episode. I felt that this part was just a little off and kind of skimpy on the severity of what it means when kids cut. But I suppose you can’t tackle every teenage issue in one novel.

I did love the bonding time with Krissi – how he cleans her up and takes care of her. Now I’m worried about him, it was astute of Johanna to question whether he’s addicted to Dadda’s pain pills.



Chapter Twenty Four is the culmination of Moran’s manifesto here. Basically, you could skip everything else in the book – read this chapter – and get the essence of the book.

Chapter Twenty Five – I liked – Johanna has reinvented Dolly to be more like herself, a music enthusiast, not a cynic. She’s changed her friends and decided what to keep and what not to keep. These lists have a bit too much clarity from what I’d expect from a teenage girl – but I’m glad she decided to keep having lots of sex with as many people as possible and reject cynicism. Though personally, I’d have gotten rid of the top hat as well.


I loved the heart to heart with mom – glad that the post-partum seems to have lifted and the acceptance and recognition of anti-depressants. In 1993 – that would have been a big fucking deal.


I think that Ali’s part in this book was to be a contrast for what the typical teen experience was versus the experience that Johanna had – it’s a clever device.


Then then then…. the twist we’d all been waiting for. (But kind of knew was coming) the benefits hadn’t been cut because Violet narced on the family – no they were cut because Johanna had decided to leave school, a weird stroke of irony that in her effort to save the family – Johanna caused their downfall.



JOHN KITE FTW. I can’t say much more here, but Ms. Moran, you made me very happy with the ending in regards to John Kite.


It’s still unclear if Johanna knows that Krissi is gay in the epilogue, where he’s coming to London with her for a few weeks – like most seventeen year olds she makes it about herself. “I know what he’s really coming down for: to take me to my first ever gay club, so I can finally make a gay best friend!” (p. 314) No sweetie, he’s looking for a man. I suspect she knows he’s gay – I would have liked to see the conversation – but maybe it was just a close sibling understanding.


That’s all she wrote, Readers! I have so much love for this book. If World Book Night US would have saved itself, I would have handed this out on street corners. Much love to all my fellow #moranalongers. I would have loved this book regardless, but it’s been much more fun with you ladies. How does everyone feel?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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How to Build a Girl: Chapters 16 – 20 (Read Along)

Posted 4 August, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

How To Build a Girl by: Caitlin Moran 
Read Along! Chapters 16 – 20.

Note: As this is a read along spoilers are gonna spoil ladies and gentlefolk. But it’s gonna be hella fun.

If you want to read along later go to Odyssey Books and get yourself a pre-order! Of course I want to extend a giant thanks to Emily at How the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) and the good people at Harper Collins.

Note Two: These posts are going to have all the language. But on the bright side, it’ll be colorful. Clean readers: This book is not for you.

Final Note: This post differs from many of those on The Steadfast Reader. (Of course it’s still fabulous.) But if it’s not your cup of tea, just know, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, tomorrow. Also, a proper review (one less gushy and with fewer fangirl moments) will be published on the blog sometime in October. Read along continues every Monday until August 11, 2014.

In case you missed it!
How to Build a Girl – Part One
How to Build a Girl – Ch. 5 – 10
How to Build a Girl  – Ch. 11 – 15

Mmm. I think that we all knew shit was going to get real this week. And it does. I don’t know if I’m having a harder time with this post because I’m in post-bar decompression mode, but don’t misunderstand that I’m still incredibly excited about this book. Plus, all the Star Wars references in this section made me unreasonably happy.

There are two big themes in these chapters. Feminism and cynicism. Let’s get to it.

Dolly is fully fleshed out now and yes, she is trouble.



Oh, sweetie! Dadda has troubles, addiction troubles. I don’t want that for Johanna – who shares a body with this troublesome persona she has created for herself.  But even at the beginning of chapter 16, where Johanna feels most definitely ‘incontrovertibly real’ – she’s still faking it when it comes to that one thing that teenage girls are taught to obsess over – her virginity.



Not So Side Note: I’m not sure which part of society is worse – the conservative side that treats girls as irredeemable whores for sex outside of marriage or that part that makes them feel unlovable and un-liked because they haven’t had sex yet. It’s also worth nothing that both those sides pull on girls – and it’s total bullshit both ways. There’s no way to win. Back to the story.



Lord. Seventeen, booze, music, and a writing job – and Johanna is still incredibly innocent. I laughed pretty hard at the ensuing discussion on Neil Young owning all the buffalo, Mike Nesmith’s mum inventing Wite-Out (is that true?) and how to get high on office supplies. It made me remember how weird gossip and facts were exchanged before you could just pull up all that shit on Google. “I had no idea. Basically, the WH Smith in the Mander Centre is Wolverhampton’s version of Studio 54. It’s a narcotic goldmine. I’ve only ever used it to buy staples.” (p. 194)


So Johanna procures her first kiss from The Kisser – who’s name she doesn’t know. “He’s a man slag.” (p.193) After nine minutes of kissing – he wanders off – no hard feelings and Johanna feels super about it. Good for her!

Getting home Johanna’s sent out to talk to Dadda in the garden, there’s an incredible feeling of love and bonding that goes on here. Dadda’s recounting of his own childhood and the horrors of post war Britain.


Hit the nail on the head again Moran. I often feel this way about the not so distant past. Women’s suffrage, contraception, World War II. For sure, things aren’t perfect now. But I can’t think of another time in history I would ever want to be a woman.

Drunk and full of family love and feeling Dadda asks the question we’ve all been waiting for: “You’ve got to get me in there, kid. Get me a break. Get me in that paper. And we’ll be millionaires by Christmas.” (p. 200)

Never drunkenly agree to nepotism.

Chapter Seventeen has some levity and I was glad to see Krissi and Johanna make up after “Satanwank-gate” and we get the first peek into a heavy truth that is going to laid upon Johanna by the end of this section. (We’ll get there.) 

Chapter Eighteen we all had our eye on John Kite for the douchebag – but we were wrong! Tony Rich. I’d like to say that Moran has written the best description of sexual tension that I’ve ever read.


So, Tony Rich takes her virginity. Like many girls, Johanna isn’t surprised by the sex itself.
“Here’s the amazing thing about sex: you get a whole person to yourself, for the first time since you were a baby.” (p. 209)

These thoughts and feelings are still incredibly innocent and naive. Yes, at it’s best, that is what sex is, but Tony Rich isn’t having that kind of sex with Johanna. I love Johanna for her innocence, so much. But please, for the love of all things holy. Don’t get pregnant. Also, AIDS – this is the early nineties – AIDS is still a death sentence. Please don’t get AIDS Johanna. I’m so worried.

Okay. So. Aside from the mom-like worrying we have to have: 

Feminist Stop #1
I’m going to take things out of order because I want to highlight just how much importance Johanna is placing on feeling useful during sex and how little she values her own pleasure.

Yes, I’m really happy that Johanna is enjoying herself and seems to be gaining confidence. However, this section is brilliant commentary on what’s societally expected with women and sex, what we (read: me) somehow believe and still struggle to overcome.  She talks again and again about wanting to be useful, she wants to help these men… Often at the sacrifice of her own enjoyment of the act.  This rang so true for me. I can’t say it better than Caitlin Moran, so get ready for the best of: (the bold is all mine)

  • “…I still didn’t come, but when he came, I felt enormously … useful. Men need to come – and I made it happen. I had a simple purpose.” (p. 210)
  • (Blow jobs) “Like sucking your thumb, but whilst making someone else very, very happy.” (p. 221)
  • “Keep on pretending you’re Al. Think about how amazing it must be for him to have sex with you! […] Yes – this is a good day for Al. Lucky, happy Al.” (p. 229)
  • “I am being a generous lover!” (p.228)
  • “And also, no one yet has made me come. I am still the greatest lover of me. I’m still the best I ever had.” (p. 223) 
  • “How long should you take to come? Do I take too long? Should you not even ask it of a man if you take more than, say, four minutes? Is that simply unreasonable? I don’t want to be a difficult case…” (p. 223)

Look me in the eye (or right into your webcam) ladies, and tell me you’ve never worried about being a ‘difficult case’. If you can, I think I hate you a little. In the nicest possible way. Moran points out that there are no examples of female orgasm at this time outside of When Harry Met Sally, and let’s face it, even today we’re sadly lacking in realistic discussions on female pleasure, at least in mainstream media. Especially when you stop to consider all the examples of male pleasure we have. 


Shit man. You can’t sit in front of the television for fifteen seconds without a Viagra or Cialis commercial coming up, but when Trojan ran a relatively discreet commercial – late at night, might I add – for a vibrator – the whole frickin’ internet was up in arms. Nope. Even in 2014, the idea of women getting pleasure from sex is somehow weird and shameful and should be hidden in the back of your dresser.

In case you’re curious here it is: 



Racy, huh? 


Big Cock Al. More variations on the theme. She takes it like a champ, he then falls asleep and what does she do? She cleans his flat. To be useful. Again, this resonated with me. I’ve actually done this.



So despite poor Johanna’s aggravated cystitis, “I need codeine and cranberry juice, please.” I say. “These are the medicines of cystitis.” (p. 235) I still found this section to be pretty hilarious. On how to deal with an unfeasibly large penis, I think my favorite was number four “Think of Han Solo.”


I thought that the party at Big Cock Al’s with Johanna sitting in the bathtub, tending to her lady parts was an interesting juxtaposition with the last time Johanna found herself in a bath with rockstars in the room – with John Kite. I’m not sure what it means, but I’m pretty sure it’s deep and important.


Feminist Stop #2 


Yep. Right there y’all. Remember earlier when I was talking about which part of society was worse? It’s all bullshit because it comes around from the ridiculous idea that a woman is nothing more than her virginity or her sexuality. Fuck that noise. Preach on Sister Moran.


Before we get to the cynicism I need to talk about how Johanna describes her deflowering to Krissi.

Did anyone else dissolve into giggles when Johanna decides to describe her deflowering to Krissi using different names? “”Why don’t we give the protagonists different names?” I suggest, “Not me and Tony Rich. Say, Peter Venkmann and Dana Barrett?”” (p. 213)


Cynicism
So, Krissi lays it on Johanna in Chapter Seventeen that he likes music, so he doesn’t read her work, because all she ever does is tear bands apart. She doesn’t seem to get it at first – but by the end of Chapter Twenty she starts to. I basically have the entirety of pages 244 – 246 underlined, I hate playing favorites – but I’ll only make you suffer through two short quotes that don’t need any explanation. 


And then we’re left with another cliffhanger. Please don’t make it be AIDS. But the title to Part Three “Rip it Up and Start Again” gives me hope.

That’s a wrap this week, Readers. How are we feeling? Anxious? Scared? Like Caitlin Moran is an AMAZING FEMINIST WUNDERAUTHOR? And yes… Pats is my favorite character in Ab Fab. 


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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How to Build A Girl: Chapters: 11 – 15 (Read Along)

Posted 28 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

How To Build a Girl by: Caitlin Moran 
Read Along! Chapters 11 – 15.

Note: As this is a read along spoilers are gonna spoil ladies and gentlefolk. But it’s gonna be hella fun.

If you want to read along later go to Odyssey Books and get yourself a pre-order! Of course I want to extend a giant thanks to Emily at How the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) and the good people at Harper Collins.

Note Two: These posts are going to have all the language. But on the bright side, it’ll be colorful. Clean readers: This book is not for you.

Final Note: This post differs from many of those on The Steadfast Reader. (Of course it’s still fabulous.) But if it’s not your cup of tea, just know, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, tomorrow. Also, a proper review (one less gushy and with fewer fangirl moments) will be published on the blog sometime in October. Read along continues every Monday until August 11, 2014.

In case you missed it!
How to Build a Girl – Part One
How to Build a Girl – Ch. 5 – 10

Little Dolly’s on a plane on a plane on a plane! Her unadulterated delight at the experience of flying just made me feel joyful.

Can we talk about her meeting John Kite? John Kite. Age: 24. “just a musician” wears furs, doesn’t come across as terribly physically attractive. I think that Johanna – not Dolly – is in the throes of her first crush. F’realz, y’all.

Good god, Ms. Moran. Isn’t that how first loves are built? Is Caitlin Moran secretly a time traveling psychic that tapped into my own teenage self? Two hours after meeting Kite, Johanna’s having this incredibly earnest and excited talk with herself in the mirror.

Now, let’s talk about John Kite. The age difference isn’t vast – seven years. (And let’s be honest, rock stars must be somewhat immature.) But I’m protective of our Johanna. Is he gaming her? Bullshitting her? Hitting on her? Am I okay with that? Right now, honestly, I’m not sure. If he’s gonna treat her right, if he’s for real, okay. I might be okay. I might need to sit down and discuss their relationship with him. He might require my permission.

But one further thing to consider. Are we seeing John Kite through the lens of a 17 year old girl in the throes of her first major crush? Her first love? In other words, is our narrator reliable?

Maybe. Back at the hotel for the interview. The late night sharing of every secret. Pulling a Norwegian Wood. Aw, man. I thought that Rainbow Rowell was the master of making middle-aged women remember the ecstasy and thrill of first love, but Moran just makes Eleanor & Park (which I thoroughly enjoyed and felt all the feels with) seem like a standard YA romance. Their whole night together is so heartfelt and innocent. I want them to get married and live happily ever after.

Kite comes through with the promised cassette, complete with letter. “I don’t want to wait another 24 years to meet you.” (p. 142) It gives me hope that maybe he’s not a weird douchebag rock star. Maybe he’s not like this with everyone. Maybe there’s a real connection. But I’m keeping my eye on you John Kite.

I feel happy for Johanna, because she finally seems to have shed some of her loneliness, she’s actually felt able to be just Johanna with someone. I’m hoping she’s realizing that Johanna has real worth and value. Jesus. Can you tell I’m a mom?

But life goes on.
So my heart broke, just a little bit, when Johanna returned from Dublin with her gift-wrapped Guinness for Dadda, she’s done it so specially for him, and she’s filled with such love and excitement when she gives it to him and then, the only reaction we get is: “Christ. That’s flat.” (p.141) I actually wrote a sad face next to that passage in my book.

She files the feature, “work dries up completely” and Johanna’s completely mystified.

Doesn’t it always feel subtle at the time? Jesus, she has it bad. The article that Johanna reads on p. 146 – 147 where Grant has an amazing night with Kite that Johanna is incredibly envious of makes me a bit suspicious of Kite. Does he do this with everyone? IS HE TOYING WITH OUR DOLLY?!

Okay. Let’s get to the deep important social commentary in this section.
Inevitably the bad news comes in. The Morrigan’s benefits have been cut by 11%.

Well, is it? 
Moran does a killer job in bringing forward the problems with income inequality in this section. It’s bleak, depressing, in your face, and important. I have half the book highlighted. The problems that the Morriagan’s face with 11% less income is vastly different than the problems that would be faced by someone living on a median income.

As Moran points out the poor have no investments or savings to tide them over. Well maybe they should cut back on those little treats. The problem is, that there aren’t any little treats to cut back on because there never were really any to begin with. Jesus, man, why can’t they just borrow from family and friends? Because there’s no one to borrow from. “…for one of the truths about the poor is that they tend only to know other poor people.” p. 150

Guys. GUYS. Just stop right here. I know we’re not all in the U.S., and I totally don’t want to go crazy political here, but this statement spoke to me so much about the constant bickering that we seem to have going on in Washington on how to deal with our own benefits. Allowing unemployment insurance to lapse, cutting back on food stamp benefits, all that shit affects people in very real ways and that’s is extraordinarily easy to forget in the comfort of my nicely furnished living room with my Macbook Pro and my middle to upper middle class income. Moran brings this right to the front of the story and makes it very personal.

Looking past the female masturbation, the feminism, and all the other fabulous topics, if all those things were absent from this book – it would still be incredibly important in the way that it connects you with the characters and makes you stop and think, really think, about the realities of being truly poor in a first world country. In my little diatribe here I’m going to jump ahead to pages 155 – 156 where Johanna is reading Tony Rich’s interview with John Kite (coincidence?) and the thoughts he has on wealth, poverty, and politics. (As usual) I want to just quote the whole damned paragraph, but I’m exercising restraint here. Just a few quick quotes to really think about then we’ll leave it.

Jesus. Right on, man. 

Finally, 

Okay, enough of that for now. Except that Johanna’s 11th birthday (p. 158 – 159) is so freakin’ sad.

I want to note, in defense of all their faults, that Johanna’s parents, despite the cuts in benefits, they still insist that she saves. They’re still concerned about her future. In a nice quiet way, I like to think that this is Moran’s way of saying that parent’s are people too, we have our faults and shittiness during childrearing, but in the end – if you’re trying to love the hell out of your kid, you’re probably not Joan Crawford.

Naturally, we’re treated to more wanking. Poor Krissi catches Johanna masturbating and promptly asks for his own room. “I have wanked him awake over weeks of Satanic fantasies.” (p. 167) I really feel like there should be a little more mortification on her part, but, well… there you are.

Speaking of satanic fantasies, I laughed a lot during this part. Apparently books on witchcraft are just a guise that libraries use to hide their satanic pornography. Who knew? All the imagery here. Johanna masturbating thinking of nuns having sex with the devil. Succubi, Incubi, etc.

There is for sure  some feminist commentary going on here. But maybe we’ll talk about it another time.

The call comes in from D&ME, they want Dolly back. Off to London!

Dolly makes the executive decision to start drinking and smoking right there at the magazine, for the first time, right in front of all of her colleagues. Dolly perceives that the “boozy rock child”(p. 172) is going over much better than the girl quoting musicals. Nooooooooo Johanna! That girl quoting musicals is so good enough and much less self destructive.

Her colleagues nail her down on why her feature on Kite was so bad, it’s that it was too fannish. They’re critics not fans. (p. 175) Dolly takes the advice to heart, advice that maybe, perhaps, tenderly, some bloggers might take to heart as well? Just a little? 🙂

Of course when she hears that Kite is going to be at the industry party, she opts in to go. There’s a sweet moment on p. 183, where Dolly is smoking backwards and Kite ever so gently corrects her. I want there to be hope for her crush! But, inevitably, he must leave early, (very Cinderella), leaving Johanna with a lingering goodbye kiss and crushing disappointment that he’s leaving so soon. (p. 184 – 185)

Also with raging teenage girl hormones. Enter Tony Rich D&ME’s STAR CRITIC. Harvard educated, exotic, he’s been to America! Johanna sees him as incredibly clever and incredibly vicious. Incidentally, she also realizes he’s incredibly hot. A tall boy with a big mouth and very pale skin, whose eyes are as clever as rockets – guns – the sun – and the exact color of Coca-Cola.” (p. 186)

By the end of chapter 15 I think that we’ve seen a distinct emergence of Dolly Wilde. Boozing at the office. Smoking, drinking, flirting. Mad for kisses, mad for mouths. Trouble.

That’s pretty much a wrap for this week, kids. But of course I want to leave you with some Jerry Springer-like final thoughts. So I made a graphic for you. From about page 171, we have Johanna’s thoughts on how to build a girl and put her out in the world. Oh! Misguided youth!

Well, Readers? How are we all feeling now? This section was heavy especially on the topic of poverty. There’s also a lot of commentary to be had on feminism and the expectations of that society places on women (and girls) and that they impute to themselves. But in the interest of length I’ve chose to focus on the poverty/welfare elements here. Hopefully some of my #moranalongers will pick up the slack on the other issues. Thoughts? Feelings? Diatribes? 


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Friday in the Forest: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

Posted 25 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
by: Verna Aardema | pictures by: Leo and Diane Dillon
So this is my attempt at something different. I loved this book growing up. I think that the illustrations are brilliant. I’m sure that you have your preconceived notion of my voice – so brace yourself because you’re probably going to be weirded out. I am by no means a professional narrator, nor am I particularly fabulous at reading aloud. C’est la vie. Enjoy! 
Credits: A West African Tale – retold by Verna Aardema
pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon
Text and pictures copyright 1975
Awards: 1976 Caldecott Medal Award Winner
Reading Rainbow’s 101 Best Children’s Books (1976)
Narrated: Me! 
Source: Purchased
As a technical aside, I do not recommend WeVideo. There are no exports or downloads without a fee – but I was over invested in this project time-wise to redo it somewhere else. (I didn’t pay, this is just embedded.) 
 
Whatcha think, Readers? #WeNeedDiverseReads? I’m a little weird about the passing of the blame down the animal chain – but seriously, who likes mosquitoes? Also, maybe the moral is that if you tell lies baby owls will die.

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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How to Build a Girl: Chapters 5 – 10 (Read Along)

Posted 21 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

How To Build a Girl by: Caitlin Moran 
Read Along! Chapters 5 – 10.

Note: As this is a read along spoilers are gonna spoil ladies and gentlefolk. But it’s gonna be hella fun.

If you want to read along later go to Odyssey Books and get yourself a pre-order! Of course I want to extend a giant thanks to Emily at How the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) and the good people at Harper Collins.

Note Two: These posts are going to have all the language. But on the bright side, it’ll be colorful. Clean readers: This book is not for you.

Final Note: This post differs from many of those on The Steadfast Reader. (Of course it’s still fabulous.) But if it’s not your cup of tea, just know, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, tomorrow. Also, a proper review (one less gushy and with fewer fangirl moments) will be published on the blog sometime in October. Read along continues every Monday until August 11, 2014.

In case you missed it!
How to Build a Girl – Part One

Today, let’s try only to use Veep gifs. It makes things more fun.

Aww, man guys, are we still loving this? I’m still loving this! Chapter five starts out all serious. But still incredibly funny. Teenage suicidal ideation? Who knew it could be approached with such levity? But that just turns out to be a little teenage angst. Johanna decides on something better than suicide. (That’s a weird sentence, 99.9% of the time anything is better than suicide.)

YOU GO GIRL.

And then, Dear Lord, God, Jesus, Buddha, Mary, and Krishna. [insert your choice of blasphemy here] Johanna starts trying to find her name to ‘build a girl’.

She has an array of choices for a non-de-plume that are equally amusing. Belle Jar? Kitten Lithium? Juno Jones? Hamburgler? All of those sound like porn stars, FOR THE WIN! (Maybe not Hamburgler, but I’m pretty sure she’d run up against some sort of copyright infringement for that one. McDonalds does NOT fuck around y’all.)

So who shall Johanna Morrigan become?

Am I the only one who thinks that Dolly Wilde also sounds like a porn star? Then again, Oscar Wilde’s scandalous alcoholic lesbian niece who dies young, isn’t so far off. I mean, with a name like that, what could possibly go wrong? As an American, of course this name conjures up images of Dolly Parton for me – who actually is totally amazing.  Moving on.

A NOTE: From here on out I’m probably going to use the names Johanna and Dolly interchangeably more or less. If you’re not reading along, understand that they are the same (at least physically) person.

I was actually pretty impressed when she started building what I’m going to call her vision board (wall) for her inspiration on who Dolly Wilde is going to be.

  • The “triumvirate of irrepressible gingers” (Barbara Streisand in Hello Dolly!, Anne of Green Gables, Miranda Richardson as Queen Elizabeth I in Blackadder)
  • The brunettes (Dorothy Parker, Kate Bush (who?), Elizabeth Taylor)
  • The poor blondes — her only inspiration appears to be Bugs Bunny dressed in drag. 
(Cue the Drag Race gif) 
Aww. Sadface, we’re in Veep Mode today.
Then her men. Her “imaginary coterie of brother-lovers”. All I have to say –  mostly awesome picks. George Orwell, Dylan Thomas, Orson Welles, Tony Benn – inventor, Rik Mayall (who?). Then Lenin. Hot and sexy Vladimir Lenin.

Before we go on, can we stop to observe something? Not only does Johanna categorize her women into hair color – her women are all beautiful, some are powerful, but that seems secondary. She doesn’t put up an actual portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, she puts up a pretty actress that’s playing her. From her women she draws the desire to be beautiful. (Because Bugs Bunny in drag always was kinda hot, amiright?)

Now consider the men. They’re smart, groundbreaking, and powerful. (Okay, maybe she put up Lenin primarily because he was hot, not because he was a revolutionary, but still.) Where are Johanna’s smart powerful women? Who on her list of women encourages her to ‘lean in’ not with her body, but with her brain? I think this is a problem that we still have today. True, we have Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Pohler, Tina Fey, and of course Caitlin Moran. But smart powerful women aren’t on the whole society wants. And that needs to change.

Networking. Did anyone else love this scene as much as me? The goth teens, hanging around the war memorial. (I feel like they should be smoking, but that part doesn’t appear in the text.) There’s something mildly absurd about Johanna bringing her “business associate” along (read: baby brother Lupin). Oh the meeting with the goths… it’s so awkward, but Johanna is just so damned ballsy and won’t be put off by it – much.

God, that inner dialogue. I love it. I also love that Johanna is so incredibly smart and witty – even if her peers don’t get it. I totally make stupid obscure jokes all the time and get all the blank stares. I’m really relating to her here. I want to give her a hug and tell her that her authentic self is freakin’ amazing. But isn’t that a part of being a teenager? (Hell, of being a person?) Not having the ability to see yourself as awesome as you really are?

Johanna’s decision to turn Dolly Wilde into a music journalist is brilliant. On pages 86 and 87 I think we get a glimpse into why Johanna so unconditionally loves her family – it’s because they (despite their MANY shortcomings) unconditionally love her.

She announces at fourteen (fifteen?) her intentions to become a music journalist – and instead of laughing at her or telling her it’s dumb they totally embrace the idea. How great is that?

Then. Then we get the backstory. Dadda’s addicted to pain pills. God, it’s so tragic. An injured fireman! So, at least we know that Dadda isn’t completely and totally a man-child. He did man up once, after giving up his dreams of the band, but then was injured – as a firefighter. It’s almost enough for me to feel some sympathy for the poor man – until we find out that was 1982. With only two kids. Last week someone said something about birth-control. Eight years and three kids later. Get the man a goddamned vasectomy… and into rehab… and some better pain management.

Shit man. Being poor is complicated and I love how Moran brings this all to light here with the perfect balance of levity and gravitas. Even on birth control accidental pregnancies happen. Kicking drugs is hard. And kicking a pill habit while you’re still in massive amounts of pain on a regular basis? It’s nearly fucking impossible. Dadda is a man-child, but he has my sympathy, if even just a little. Is he gaming the welfare system? Ok. Maybe a bit.


1992.
Viewing her as an adult, I think that Johanna Morrigan fucking rocks. She’s sixteen and landed an interview with Disc & Music Echo (D&ME). How? How does a sixteen year old from the sticks land an interview with a music magazine in London? TENACITY. Two years of research, twenty-seven consecutive letters, phone calls. All from Dolly Wilde.


Holy shit. She was a blogger before there were blogs.

Then there’s this:

Did that sentence evoke the #YesAllWomen campaign on Twitter a few weeks back for anyone else?

I’m getting close to wrapping this up… but there’s just so much. I feel like we have a re-run of the Scooby Doo episode when Dolly walks up to D&ME for her interview and she makes an obscure Annie reference that is met with silence. Ohhhh… I felt all the pain of this. As I said before I still do shit like this.

Frankly, that whole meeting was deliciously awkward and I could feel the feelings that Johanna was having after the meeting. Going into the bathroom, the grinding your teeth together, taking some breaths. Replaying every. stupid. comment. you made. Oh yes. I still feel like this every time I have to get out there and network with the big boys.

But she gets the job. Here’s where I have to stop and suspend belief. I dunno, it just doesn’t feel realistic, but it’s necessary for the momentum of the story so I’m gonna roll with it. Dolly gets the job but Johanna has to return to real life and bicker over the use of the Commodore 64 with little Lupin. She fights with Mom and damnit man, they’ve got to stick to the schedule.


The gig. D&ME calls. You see Johanna play Dolly and there’s something heartbreaking here. Because Johanna is good enough, but she doesn’t know that. Not even a little bit. She doesn’t need to fake playing the wild card. Ah, teenage (and middle age) insecurity.

I love the borderline offense that Dolly takes at the kids in Birmingham being so totally into The Smashing Pumpkins and the appropriation of American culture. There’s something incredibly amusing in her outrage.


I have no idea what most of the words in that sentence mean. Probably because I’m an American.

But I totally agree with her that moshing and crowd-surfing is dreadful, after all, she’s a MUSIC CRITIC, not an ANIMAL. I’m pretty sure that I was British in most of my past lives.

Of course Dadda comes with her to the concert, mostly for the free booze, and of course he gets totally drunk and befriends Protestant Pat. (“but we’ve sorted it all out.”What does that even mean?!)

Backstage with the Pumpkins also is a replay of every bit of social awkwardness poor Johanna experiences. Then when Dadda and Protestant Pat appear, well, I just want to sink into the ground for poor Johanna. At the same time – I laughed my head off.

Chapter Ten ends with what I consider to be some really bad decision making. Johanna drops out of school. Granted, she does so in a most fabulously dramatic way. She’s pretty easy breezy about it, maybe because she just doesn’t give a fuck about talking to the school secretary – but there’s nothing awkward at all about this exchange. I do love her fabulous mean girl attitude about her classmates.  I want to quote the whole paragraph on p. 125 about the way she narcs out her classmates, but I won’t. Just go back and read it and tell me it’s not funny. Because it totally is.

Thank goodness that her parents don’t approve – they’ve got that bit of childrearing down at least. But there’s no arguing with Johanna’s logic:

Not a Veep gif, but the reference was too good to pass up.

Teenagers.

Looks like Dolly’s going to Dublin and I can’t wait.

But first. I want to leave you with two things.

On a side note: I had a bitch of a time creating this graphic because I just couldn’t find the right font to express who I feel like Johanna is becoming on this journey. I know. First world problems right there.

Finally. (I know, FINALLY.) This statement really spoke to me. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but it’s definitely one of those fabulous characteristics of Moran’s writing that amidst all the zaniness and weird, eccentric things happening, she slips in these really deep and important concepts.

So tell me, Readers? Whatcha thinkin’? Poor Go Book Yourself! bailed after the sexmergency last week. (Hopefully just for that post.) Is my enthusiasm a bit overwhelming? (I don’t care.) Are any of my fellow #moranalongers feeling dislike, disappointment, or some other variance of negativity for this book? Do you hate networking as much as I do? If you don’t already watch RuPaul’s Drag Race or Veep, am I inspiring you? Am I asking too many questions?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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How to Build a Girl: Part I (Read Along)

Posted 14 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

How To Build a Girl by: Caitlin Moran 
Read Along! Part One.

Note: As this is a read along spoilers are gonna spoil ladies and gentlefolk. But it’s gonna be hella fun.

If you want to read along later go to Odyssey Books and get yourself a pre-order! Of course I want to extend a giant thanks to Emily at How the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) and the good people at Harper Collins.

Note Two: These posts are going to have all the language. But on the bright side, it’ll be colorful. Clean readers: This book is not for you.

Final Note: This post differs from many of those on The Steadfast Reader. (Of course it’s still fabulous.) But if it’s not your cup of tea, just know, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, tomorrow. Also, a proper review (one less gushy and with fewer fangirl moments) will be published on the blog sometime in October. Read along continues every Monday until August 11, 2014.

Guys. Guuuuyyyssssss…. I’m freaking loving this book. I don’t want to get all fangirl-y, but I’m about ready to go out and buy Caitlin Moran’s entire catalogue.

I did a shitty job introducing myself in the introduction posts. I’m April. 32. Married. Owner of one three year old girl. American.

So! Part One. How are we feeling? (Another random note – I have a weird desire to use ONLY RuPaul Drag Race gifs during this read along. I may or may not make that happen.)


Let me show you how I’m feeling.
I mean, this book opens on a fourteen year old girl masturbating. After getting over my initial shock and reading on, I stop to reflect. Is Moran doing this for shock value? Maybe. But more importantly is this how fourteen year old girls behave? Yep. (Oh dear lord, the sordid usage of  the “Mum” brand hairbrush at the beginning of chapter 3? I was having fits.) 
So what’s so important about Johanna and her constant obsession with her first kiss, masturbation, and sex in general? Because it’s so totally and completely normal. And let the record show that there’s nothing graphic in Johanna’s masturbation, just a statement that it’s happening. And that it’s happening a lot.
I’m about to go out on a feminist tangent here – but stay with me. We joke about hormones of teenage boys (and grown men) and normalize male masturbation and preoccupation with sex. (What’s the old adage, a man thinks about sex every seven seconds?) Well newsflash world! The ladies like the sex and the masturbation as well. 
Johanna’s open and honest thoughts and views on her hormones and masturbation are not only accurate, Moran renders them hysterical. 


Show me a woman that didn’t feel this way at fourteen, whose hormones weren’t completely raging and out of control, and I will show you an Amish woman. (No offense to the Amish. In fact, it’s possible that the Amish have these feelings as well, what else are you going to do without electricity?) Johanna is not the idealized sexless girl, rabidly defending her virginity that is the norm in much literature (and media) of all stripes. Johanna is real. She wants to have her first kiss. She wants to experience THE SEX and I love her for that.
Moving on. There are at least two other episodes in the early chapters of part one that were so funny, so absurd, that we MUST talk about them.
First. Ian a.ka. Rock Perry. The cock. The future. This whole weird misunderstanding between Rock Perry (Ian) and Johanna’s delusional, child-like, dead beat father – thinking he’s going to save the family by finally selling that demo and becoming the rich and famous middle-aged rock star, with wife and five kids. After Dadda blows up at Rock (deep and important meaning in that misunderstood pseudonym? You tell me, Reader.) Johanna’s mother takes the practiced air of trying to appease just one more ‘future’ by saddling him with a bunch of six bananas… to the confusion of practically everyone. (p. 8 – 9) 
I found this exchange so absurd, so crazy that I nearly spit my tea across the room. The sheer insanity of the whole situation was enough to get me giggling uncontrollably. I’m not sure what it means (other than Dadda is a man-child and Johanna’s mother is long suffering), but I for sure know that it’s funny. 
Second. Where the nurse mistakes Johanna as the mother of the unnamed twins. Can we begin by the absolutely brilliant way that Moran describes post-partum depression?  
Just. Freakin’. NAILED IT, Moran. NAILED. IT.
But the subsequent misunderstanding where it takes the nurse several paragraphs to realize (in Maury Povich style) that Johanna is NOT the FATHER MOTHER! I adore. There’s just something about that whole exchange is fantastically hysterical. 

“The horror dawned on me like . . . nuclear.” (p. 20)

Then the juxtaposition with poor Johanna’s virginity? Priceless.

Imma gonna keep going, at least a little bit longer. But let’s move to major plot points. Johanna’s fateful visit with her best and newest friend, her only friend – 72 year old Violet. After a poor judgment call of telling Violet that her family is on benefits, Johanna realizes how grave the mistake is. (p. 33) Damnable people. With Violet getting all Judgy-McJudgerson, I really couldn’t help but be reminded of the national debate that we just had are constantly having here in the U.S. about food stamps. But more on that later. (In another post.)

This dreadful error, also highly relatable in that I think in moments of frustration many teenage girls spill family secrets that they have no business spilling and then go into total panic mode. Her deal with Jesus (not to wank for six months – oh, the humanity!) feels like something my fourteen year old self would offer up in exchange for supernatural intervention. Then, nine terrible days later – Johanna breaks the deal and knows she’s in trouble. All variations on the theme that teenage girls have hormones too and are not the chaste Disney Princesses that the world would like them to be. Love it.


Her fantasies on what will happen, how her parents will react, when they find she, their beloved Johanna will be the cause of their impending doom remind me of the fantasies that pre-pubescent Ralph from A Christmas Story has on a variety of topics. (Aside: Next to Bill Murray’s Scrooged, A Christmas Story, is one of the few Christmas movies I can tolerate. Bah! Humbug!)

But this fear and teenage assuredness that as the center of the universe she is going to be solely responsible for the downfall of her family (never mind Dadda is kind of a deadbeat man-child and Mom hasn’t even named the twins) are the catalyst for the rest of the book.

I love Moran’s accurate and heartbreaking rendering of what society’s unrealistic beauty standards do to a girl.

“Because my biggest secret of all – the one I would rather die than tell, the one I wouldn’t even put in my diary – is that I really, truly, in my heart, want to be beautiful. I want to be beautiful so much – because it will keep me safe, and keep me lucky, and it’s too exhausting not to be.” (p.53)

What Johanna and most fourteen year old girls fail to realize is that beauty isn’t the answer. I can’t wait to see if she learns that hard fact of life in Part Two.

One more scene. Then I’m going to wrap this up, promise. After winning the poetry contest (see, that’s wholesome.) Johanna gets to appear on a regional(?) talk show. She’s a bundle of teenage nerves and insecurities, that even in my thirties I find myself relating to. Every awkward joke, (“It would be inappropriate for us to go on a date, Alan.” p. 54) all the anxiety about her looks, and perhaps the most powerfully amusing part of the interview; Johanna is trying to please the host, the audience. She’s trying too hard as fourteen year old girls are wont to do. (Hell, as thirty year old women are wont to do.) In an attempt to fill what Johanna perceives to be an awkward silence she launches into the nature of her friendship with her dog.

Moran’s visual here just made me laugh like a madwoman. God, don’t we all hate those awkward silences? Especially during a live interview? (Or an in-person conversation if you’re a bit of an introvert like me?) I’m also apt to start talking nonsense if you let that awkward silence go on long enough. Again. Oh, the humanity.

That’s an awkward way to fill a silence gap if I’ve ever heard one.

I basically just want to quote the whole book. Maybe Moran is looking for an American lady to create an annotated version of How to Build a Girl? Annotated with all the parts that are insanely funny to this one American lady? Probably not? C’est la vie. I think it would sell. One more quote for the road.

So question, fellow Readers. Do Mom and Dadda have actual names that I have missed? I hope not because I like the idea of nameless parents. After all, this is Johanna’s story and in the mind of a fourteen year old girl, parents are parents. Not people.

So far, even though it’s dealing with the sexuality and hormones of a fourteen year old girl it lacks the creep factor of Lolita or even Tampa because there’s no sexual abuse present. (Unless you consider masturbation to be self abuse – which clearly, I do not.)

What do you think, Reader? I can’t wait to see the posts of my fellow read along-ers. If you’re not currently reading along but read this post anyway, what do you think? Does this look appealing? See you back again next week for the second installation of How to Build a Girl!


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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How to Build a Girl – Read Along: Introduction

Posted 7 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

It’s time for the pre-publication read along for Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl (Order Now!) hosted by the gracious Emily at How the Crow Flies along with the generosity of the folks at Harper Collins.

I haven’t read any Caitlin Moran before, but the idea of a feminist coming of age novel set nineties Britain was too good to pass up! (Also, I’m a feminist, of course I need to read this book.)

Do you want the synopsis? I know you want the synopsis. Here it is! (Goodreads)

The New York Times bestselling author hailed as “the UK’s answer to Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, and Lena Dunham all rolled into one” (Marie Claire) makes her fiction debut with a hilarious yet deeply moving coming of age novel.

What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bröntes—but without the dying young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

So for the next several weeks myself and other bloggers will be engaging in a fun and fabulous read along. I know I’m excited!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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