I'll Mature When I'm Dead - Dave Barry
The essay on men versus women is a bit flat, even for Dave Barry. And that is my sole criticism for this book, which is a showcase of comedy writing in episodic stages.
In fact, I thought I would love it for no other reason than the essay, "A Practical, Workable Plan for Saving the Newspaper Business (I Sure Don't Have One). Too much to go into now, but brilliant and sadly hilarious.
But actually, the parody chapter of Twilight, "Fangs of Endearment," could be one of his best pieces ever.
I recommend. Times twenty. Unless you hate to laugh. Then maybe check out Carlos Mencia.
Strip - Thomas Perry
The formula is your basic thriller plot line: an innocent man, wrongly targeted by a vicious gangster, trying to outfox the bad guy. But in this case, nothing is what it seems. The innocent man is innocent of a particular crime but hardly defenseless or helpless. And the gangster, it turns out, is far more human and kind than Bad Guy typecasting requires.
Even better than the wonderfully drawn characters - like the bigamous police lieutenant trying to sort it all out - is the ending. Plot lines be damned. The twists are truly unique and cleverly done. I grabbed this for in-flight reading based on its slim size, but I suspect Perry will be on my booklist again soon...
This Is Not the Story You Think It Is - Laura Munson
A main problem of the New Thought church of spirituality is the innate selfishness. Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism have taught the concept of non-attachment for far longer, and with more reason. New Thought suggests they all fall short of the ideal: to respond positively and joyously even when confronted with hurt is true enlightenment.
This is where Laura Munson, the spoiled rich girl who grew up to believe that shedding her housekeepers and personal trainer was deep sacrifice, lives.
Her husband came home one day to tell her, "I don't love you. I'm not sure I ever did." And first in an essay for the New York Times' Modern Love column, and then in this book, Munson explains her New Age answer, "I don't buy it."
Munson proceeds to tell us she chose not to accept her husband's statement because, having nearly reached enlightenment, she has decided to give up suffering. She then becomes a martyr for her cause, to remain married. She isn't suffering when her husband pulls away. Sadness is a choice, and the only real choice to make is to choose freedom.
Yes, her version of freedom is for her husband to choose to come back home and love his wife again.
Reason would dictate that a commitment to non-suffering and freedom for her husband would be to give him the freedom he asks. But that is not the New Thought way.
Instead, New Thought requires her to journal daily about her sacrifice and deeper understanding of what her husband needs. And were that not enough, it is very important to remind readers several times that you are a Writer (who likes to "make beautiful things") despite a pile of rejection letters from your 14 previous attempts at a book.
The self indulgent and selfishness ultimately triumphs, as it does often in daily life. But that doesn't make Munson's writing ring any more true. And having landed a publisher, and published a book, does not make you a Writer.
Harsh, perhaps. But see, I did not commit to giving up suffering, or else I'd never have finished his waste of time called her debut book.