Monday, August 9, 2010

Scared All the Time

Embarrassing but true: due to a misspent youth of compulsive horror movie watching with my cooler, older (and apparently braver) sister, I cannot sleep alone. Until now this has never been a problem. During my first four years out of college I lived with my three best girl friends so at least one person was always around, and since then I’ve lived with my beau, Ben, and often times when he’s away on weekend trips, I’m with him. For the past ten days, however, he has been out in California visiting friends and is now heading out to Colorado to hang out with his parents on a well deserved vacation. The monsters under the bed are seeking their revenge.

For the first time ever I’ve been plagued with a problem the general existence of which has always baffled me: insomnia. Feeling obligated to stand ready to investigate every creak and thump in an old, creaky apartment, I find myself groggily watching the clock as 2, 3, 4, and 5 am zoom by. Realizing that my mental sharpness is hardly at its peak in these half sleeping, half waking dream-like states, I’ve refrained from doing any work reading because I don’t feel on my game enough to absorb anything I’ll later need to speak intelligently on. Thus, late night television and old sitcoms on DVD have been my pastimes of choice. This past weekend, though, I hit my limit on the amount of mind poison one can take in the form of the bottom-of-the-barrel pop culture that these late night TV sessions have proven filled with, and I finally picked up a book. Laurie Colwin’s Happy All the Time, to be precise.

Colwin’s novel is forthcoming in the line-up of books to be discussed by the very book group from which this website sprang. While I love our discussion sessions and most of the literature up for discussion, between work reading, blogging, and reading books to be reviewed, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up, and often times book club reading is, by necessity, the last item on the to-do list. Figuring that a groggy, out-of-it read of Colwin’s novel would be better than no read at all, I decided to make it my latest late-night source of companionship.

Thank God I did.

Dorothy Parker meets Woody Allen meets Nora Ehpron, Colwin’s delightful little book is filled with social contexts, hang-ups, and insecurities that still ring remarkably true thirty years later. Even if literally every sentence weren’t as e-card worthy in its wit and dry humor as they all prove to be, the characters at the book’s heart would’ve kept me reading fast and furious through the night. Having developed my first ever girl crush on a fictional character in the form of Holly Sturgis, I was shocked when even she was given a run for her money by the equally enchanting, and idiosyncratically loveable Misty Berkowitz. I was both surprised and elated to find such strong women who might read as progressive even by today’s standards in the extent to which they ruled their households and turned their beaus to putty with both their intelligence and strength. By the end of the second night I was far too worried about whether these neurotic New Yorkers would ever settle down into the comfort of the wonderfully original and one of a kind love-affairs they’d spun for themselves to concern myself with silly matters like whether those footsteps in the hallway were just a neighbor returning home late after a night out or an evil intruder in a ski mask coming right toward me.

There’s still a big chunk of time before my book group meets to discuss Happy All the Time (there is, in fact, another book before it on the line-up that I bypassed in my reading only because I didn’t have a copy handy). There’s a solid chance that all of the enchanting details that my muddled, sleep-deprived brain took in will cloud after a few nights of real sleep and I may fail to offer any solid insights when the time to discuss the book comes. Three cheers to book club nonetheless. It introduced to me a writer I would likely never had read (or, admittedly, even have known about) otherwise, one who created a vivid and thought-provoking enough world to coax me out of my own sinister fantasies.

So, feel free to let your future children indulge in any horror movie fascinations they might develop—it may give birth to a wholly more worthy obsession. Until then, I highly encourage you to start your own psychologically redemptive book club. Or, better yet, go read Colwin’s brilliant book.

No comments:

Post a Comment