CHILD ABUSE AND DRUG USE, BOTH RIVETING OF LATE: I just read the Nancy Werlin's YA thriller The Rules of Survival. Total page-turner. I love reading about child abuse and neglectful, crazy, drug-addled parents. I guess everybody does. That said . . . the book hasn't knocked around in my head since. It didn't get bigger with time. It didn't age well. Oh well. And I just read it two days ago.
Here's an essay by Elizabeth Bachner at Bookslut about reading YA. Leave me alone, people. I'm in that same place right now. Aren't these five sentences beautiful?:
I can't ever change back the other way, unlive a day or a month or a decade, unmeet someone, unfall in love, unread a book. But I can dump a pile of shampoo on my hair, and go out into today's morning with cold, wet ears, and fly myself to Paris. I can order some crepes Suzette somewhere, or some other flaming dessert. I can crack open a new book and come out the other side. Everything will be as it should be.
THE BEST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE--WHICH, LUCKY FOR ME, JUST SO HAPPENS TO HAVE CHILD ABUSE AND DRUG USE IN IT: Speaking of child abuse, has anyone read Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals? I did. Last summer.
Speaking of aging? This book is like a 20-year old bottle of La Piana balsamic. The protag is a 12-year-old girl named Baby who is being raised by her father Jules in the red light district of Montreal. Jules has a minor heroin prob and Baby eventually falls into the hands of charming pimp named Alfonse. God. Damn. Such. A. Good. Book.
H.O'N. has stories at This American Life too. See My So-Called Jesus. Description from TAL: Heather O'Neill reflects on what it would mean to be the savior of all mankind, but still in middle school.
Also, H.O'N. has a great reading voice and I saw her interviewed on YouTube for some Canadian literary event maybe? I don't know. But she smiled nonstop and seemed the nicest person on earth. I like nice people. I like writers who are nice.
THE PROOF CRUSHER: I'm back in touch with a friend who was like a sister to me in grad school and that makes me happy. We're sending each other poems. She found out yesterday her book is getting published. More happiness. She sent me some comments on a poem, describing a poem of mine as a knot--knot being a good thing. Then she said her issue with the poem was its title drains its juice and makes it a kind of proof. She suggested reversing lines (thinking of the title as a line), seeing what would happen if I played the poem backwards. So I did. I've never played a poem backwards. Great advice.
PUTTING YOUR WOLF ON BACKWARD: I interviewed Matt Hart about his second collection of poems WOLF FACE. He said this, which was kind of incredible to me: "I ALWAYS revise as I'm reading. Things will pop into my head that I have to try right then and there. I've cut entire stanzas at readings. I've read poems backwards." Proof crusher!
PLOT-O-MATIC ROBOTS AND OTHER THINGS OF BEAUTY: Still obsessing over plot. I've been playing around with Dramatica Pro software, trial version. I actually read Dramatica's downloadable 400 page book on story theory. That was dumb to do. I'm sure I'm the only person who's ever read it.
So how the software works is it asks you all these questions and then it has this basic outline of scenes that is populated with notes based on the questions you've been asked to answer previously. Here's an example of the template:
Scene 1: Prologue The needs of a story determine the desirability of a prologue. The prologue can be used as a device to hook the audience's attention; establish a certain aura (romantic, violent); provide backstory; foreshadow certain events.
Scene 2: Chapter 1-Initial Situation --A novel usually begins with some sort of temporal and/or spatial initial situation. The initial situation gives a description of a particular, sometimes emphasized prosperity. This prosperity serves as a contrasting background for the misfortune to follow. From this situation stems the orders or advice to not interfere with this prosperity--to maintain the status quo.
Scene 3: Chapter 1
Scene 4: Chapter 1
And so on and so on. Sixty scenes. It's like the 90-page design documents I fill out at work
I emailed my friend K some examples of Dramatica scenes and she wrote back, "Whoa. Cool. Though it makes me think one day, robots will rule the world."
My friend and I have an idea for a collab YA book. "We will be bots together," K noted. "Collabo-bots."
IEP MEETING, I.E., NINE EXPERTS SITTING IN A CIRCLE COMPLAINING ABOUT MY SPAWN: I have an
Touch screen computer
Actually my daughter already gets all those things--except for the touch screen--I'm just asking to continue services. I am bringing my friend J for moral support and intimidation. She was once a lawyer. Not some stanky janky one either. She went to The University of Chicago. That doesn't mean anything to me but J says to lawyers it's everything, like "Ooooh, hoooo hoooo, so and so went to Yale, Fancy, and so and so went to John Marshall, that poor retarded ruined thing."
J is representing me as Friend who just so happens to be a former attorney. She is my force of strength and support this morning even though she's never worked in education. But she has managed sales of really big buildings, so I think she will be able to help. I have a good feeling.
She has nerves of steel. When she was working, I used to ask her sometimes, "Don't you get super nervous at closings and start thinking, "OMG this building is worth 2.5 billion dollars. What if I mess something up and sell it for 25dollars?" I realize education is not property. The mind of a child is not a building. Not literally at least. Still, I have hope for J's utility. We will emerge triumphant.
As noted in subtitle above, IEP meetings feel like Nine Experts Sitting in a Circle Complaining About My Spawn. They're unbelievably painful. They're like doing taxes, like, black and white, there it stands: Annual income, five dollars.
Weeks before my daughters' IEPs, I start feeling depressed. I dread them. Last year, driving to ours, my husband and I threatened to divorce each other. Later, after it was over, we were like, "Ha ha. Sorry about that! IEPs are so stressful though, aren't they?"
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IN A DREAM ABOUT BEING IMPORTANT: The book LOVELY, EFFORTLESS, SAFE by Jenny Hollowell? Michael Schaub wrote a review of it at NPR. I like him, he likes it, so would I like it? Would I like this book? I have to say, I'm intrigued. Even though I find actresses creepy and desperate, even Broadway ones, even book ones. Still. A 20-something protag is always appealing. They're messy and ridiculous, openly dreaming about embarrassing things like being important.