Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

As you know (if you live in our gluttonous nation), Thanksgiving is a holiday of excess. No one really celebrates it in its traditional sense; the day mainly functions as a segue into the Christmas season and an excuse to gorge ourselves.
Thanks to the inevitable food-talk, I added a new word to my vocabulary: egesta. With that, I bid you happy eating. Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Cheer, etc.: a Link Round-Up

Thanksgiving is this week. In fact, it's a mere four days away -- which means that everyone's favorite holiday, Christmas, is only 31 days from today.

Because corporate America told me to do so, I've already begun to formulate a Christmas list. And here's the first item on it.

The second? The Rancher's Family Thanksgiving, of course: Cathy Gillen Thacker's classic, possibly heartwarming, story of two long-time friends who fall in love over the gravy boat, or something along those lines. I'd like to imagine they come together over the process of making Thanksgiving dinner -- nothing's more romantic than a handful of offal.

A Randall Thanksgiving sounds promising, too. One commenter describes the plot as "so unbelievable that it was laughable." That's my kind of book. 

This is a bit outdated, but it's great nonetheless: a website documenting Walmart's ludicrous banning of a hijacking-themed romance novel. This spat between an angry e-mailer and Walmart/Dorchester Publishing's (probably automated) e-mailing system occurred about a year after the whole 9/11 debacle.

I've also found yet another blog dedicated to the ever-popular romance genre. Their mission statement says the blog's regular contributors consist of "readers, reviewers, aspiring authors, and bestsellers." I think I like the idea behind this one. Maybe this will shed some light on the qustionable mechanics of the romance novelist's writing process.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Live-blogging Tonight!

I probably don't need no hook for this, but I just wanted to make you all aware that I'll be live-blogging tonight in a city near you (if you live in Albany or the capital district -- if not, you're SOL). Where will I be? A party, of course -- most commonly understood as the mating grounds of today's college student.

I'll be keeping tabs via twitter, so I suggest you follow me here if you're interested in finding out how interpersonal relationships work. I'm expecting a pretty obvious contrast to the unrealistic expectations which have been set up by Walmart's romance department. If you can't figure twitter out, don't fret -- the entire night will be compiled into a legitimate blog post on Monday.

One more thing: If you want the exact coordinates of the event, feel free to contact me. I'm sure I'll need some moral support during this trying time, so don't be afraid to stop by.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Bad, Guys

I try to make a point of being right most of the time.


Okay, all of the time.

It's a quality that sounds good in theory -- maybe something you'd whip out in a job interview -- but in practice is pretty annoying to everyone but me. Pair that with the inability to admit when I'm wrong, and we've got an obvious recipe for social success.

Having established that, I'm going to be frank and say that perhaps I was a bit quick to judge Christine Feehan's credibility in this post. No, I don't personally understand the appeal of a book trailer, but maybe that's just because I'm unfamiliar with the commercial aspect of being an author. That doesn't mean I think the whole thing is a good idea. I don't. It seems strange to me, and feels really inorganic and un-booklike -- especially the use of random pictures to portray the main characters. It's like the author is pushing us to have a set image of what each character should look like, pre-reading, and I'm not okay with that. Books are always described as "better than the movie" because they're so open to ambiguity. If you ruin that with a trailer beforehand, you're closing off gateways that could have made the novel so much more enjoyable to its prospective reader. Or so I thought, anyway. I suppose some people like to be fed ideas rather than go through the bother of creating them themselves.

All in all, though, I understand the perceived need for a book trailer. You want sales, I know! That's something fundamental to being a romance author! Christine, I apologize. It can't be easy to sell the caliber of work you're creating, and I suppose you've gotta do what you've gotta do. Godspeed. the future, try to be a little more discriminant in your tastes in trailers. They're not my thing, but maybe you can make them yours.

Am I saying this simply because I discovered that my professor has one too? Possibly. I'll leave that up to you to decide.

I Know Too Much

I thought this might offer some deeper insight into the person behind the blog. Excuse me while I toot my own horn:

One of my exes sent me this video yesterday, with the simple disclaimer of "this is exatcly how i feel about u" (spelling errors are his). We're friends, but somehow I don't think this was intended to be a compliment. Still, I was flattered. The literary references were gimmes, but it was the nod to Sophie Scholl and other mentionings of the Third Reich that really made it relevant to my interests.

Also, for the record, I don't know algebra. In fact, I can barely count above ten. Nor do I speak Japanese beyond understanding the words "Mitsubishi," "Toyota," "ramen," and "bukkake" (don't Google that).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Appealing to an Audience: a Link Round-Up

I've been sick with what I'm assuming is just a minor case of polio, tuberculosis, or a fatal strain of influenza for a few days. Naturally, being solely focused on my task as a blogger, this crippling illness sparked a train of thought. As I sat in bed, nasal passages clogged, chest full of fluid but heart aflame, I wondered if any romance author had yet taken it upon herself to write a disease-related novel. Lo and behold, Patricia Cabot had.

Not only that, but I later discovered that GravityGirl had already saved me the effort of reviewing it, too. Lucky me.

The existence of the 19th-century-Scottish-countryside-riddled-with-disease romance is sort of unsurprising considering the amount of niche fiction that gets published under the guise of romantic literature.

You want questionably historically-accurate historical romance? You've got it.

Paranormal activity more your thing? Okay, there's a site for that, too.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any websites dedicated strictly to churning out bodice-rippers which center around medical anomalies. Why hasn't anyone written about two star-crossed lovers, separated only by debilitating IBS? I can almost guarantee that there's a market for that. I could see myself getting into leper love as well.

On a more exciting note, I stumbled across this site (to which Teresa made a reference last week) while on a wayward google search for "romance novel ebola" (fruitless -- I call dibs on this idea). Admittedly, the authors are a bit more generous in their appraisals of romantic fiction, but I can appreciate what they're doing.

The Ja(y)nes over at Dear Author,... are working on a somewhat similar project as well, albeit with an even more approving tone than the Smart Bitches. I wonder how long it will take for Nora Roberts to be officially  inducted into the literary canon.

All things considered, I'm not sure how to react to the large amount of positive attention these novels are receiving in the blogosphere. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it irrelevant? Does this bode well for the future of literature as a whole? I don't know, but it certainly makes me feel funny.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Spray-On Condom (by Reese)

(image via

Click the dick to find out more.
C'mon, you know you want to.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Goodbye and Goodnight (by Reese)

Okay, so this isn't my last post. But this is my last post where I'm actually speaking to you (the real last one I have, scheduled for Saturday, defies any description I could give it; sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words). And I think there's a few thing I should own up to.

I've read a few romance novels before. I'll probably continue to read them in the future. I wouldn't identify myself as a "rabid" or even "avid" reader of these fine pieces of literature, but I do admit I'm no virgin (ha, ha) to the inner workings of 450 pages of pulsing, sweating sexual detail.

And I'm also aware that I've been making fun of all this, so in honor of my exit from this blog (and at the suggestion of a certain author as well as The Romance Reader Top 100 List) I've selected a few titles that I might pursue reading for my future enjoyment.


1. Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. I love Montana, I would like to move there. This is justifiable reason to me.
2. The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase. Hellions are much more my style than damsels in distress. I think I could enjoy a hellion quite more than I could enjoy a helpless blathering wench.
3. Deeper by Megan Hart. Yes, I have posted on this one before. And that's why I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and see what it's really all about.
4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This does not sound particularly appealing to me, as it is a one-world, non-descriptive title that says little about plotline or sexual content, but the List rates it as number one, so my curiosity is piqued.
5. The Windflower by Tom and Sharon Curtis. The title interests me, but its more the fact that this appears to have been written by a couple (I dearly hope they're not a brother-sister team) that makes me want to read it.

That's it for now (don't want to get too crazy) but I'd like to thank you guys for listening to me ramble on for the past week--if, in fact, you have been listening and not just following Lizzie in her waitressing escapades at Waiting On Wisdom.

So if you've been following along, my gratitude is sincere. And I have to say, the, erm, pleasure has been all mine.

On that note, dear readers, goodbye and goodnight.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A New Release in Nonfiction Romance

I'm not ready to make a full return to this blog just yet, but I wanted to make you all aware of this e-mail scandal between two members of Cornell's faculty.

Looks as though they were trying to pen a romance novel of their own. It was looking good, too, guys -- I'm sorry society had to go and bring a good thing down.

Books That Sound Like Romance, But Aren't (by Reese)

Oh, Amazon. The place to find whatever you want to buy, whether it be used Converse sneakers or an amusing list of dirtily-named literary works that are actually about very, ahem, rigid topics. Here are a few favorites:

Penetrating Wagner's Ring by John Louis Digaetani. Reviewers found this expert take on Opera "stimulating, but a bit sloppy". The writer of the Most Helpful Favorable Review was, at least, in on the joke.

The Golden Ass by  E.J. Kenney is a based on a premise not unlike that of Kafka's Metamorphosis (rather lighter, though): a jerkish man is transformed into a donkey.. The most promising thing about it? The keyword is "inserted stories". Oh, I bet they've done some insertion.

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. With a name like Winterson, it has to be frigid, right? Not necessarily. Customers are calling her everything from "inventive and imaginative" (oh baby) to "tedious and unsatisfying". But the best title of all? Queen of Fantasy (scroll down).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Original Digital Dating Service (by Reese)

(video via

Come on, ladies. These are the kinds of guys you've been waiting for.
"At night, I operate a damsel in distress hotline"
"My favorite food is pizza.... and sugar and spice and all those things that are nice."

Oh baby. Sign me up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Language of Love (by Reese)

As I have yet to get my hands on one of Lizzie's most precious hot-and-heavy romance novels and do a "true and deep" analysis of it, I thought I'd occupy my time by revealing to the hungry eyes of all you readers the pulsing, heaving extent of, um, "descriptive" language used in every inch of the romance novel--even the summaries of books themselves, which don't explicitly refer to sex. Consider this example, from


by Megan Hart 

Twenty years ago she had her whole life spread out before her. She was Bess Walsh, a fresh-scrubbed, middle-class student ready to conquer the design world. And she was taken. Absolutely and completely. 
But not by Andy, her well-groomed, intellectual boyfriend who had hinted more than once about a ring. No. During that hot summer as a waitress and living on the beach, she met Nick, the moody, dark-haired, local bad boy. He was, to put it mildly, not someone she could take home to Daddy.
Instead, Nick became her dirty little secret— a fervent sexual accomplice who knew how to ignite an all-consuming obsession she had no idea she carried deep within her.

Bess had always wondered what happened to Nick after that summer, after their promise to meet again. And now, back at the beach house and taking a break from responsibility, from marriage, from life, she discovers his heartbreaking fate—and why he never came back for her. Suddenly Nick's name is on her lips…his hands on her thighsdark hair and eyes called back from the swirling gray of purgatory's depths.

Dead, alive, or something in between, they can't stop their hunger.

She wouldn't dare.

(my highlights)

Of course, not all romance writers adhere to this particular philosophy. Take this, er, confident woman from, in response to an inquiry about what sort of language should be used in in writing this sort of book:

"Personally, I'm not a fan of the flowery filler-words used in older romance novels. I'd rather them just get straight to the point with the real word."

Well, okay then.

(image via

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roundup: The Best In Smut (by Reese)

Here's the no-brainer: Walmart's website will give me access to the full collection of, uh, quality reading.

This romance-novel directory promises to get "a little on the wild side." Sounds appropriate. Let's take a peek.

Oh, the mother of all woman-oriented crap: Lifetime wants to show me the ropes.

It may sound innocent, but Public Bookshelf promises me that I can read tales of "southern bells longing for lost lives or steamy, hot romance stories" for free online. Oh goody.

Apparently, this delectable variety of fiction is so intoxicating to some that they would go so far as to call it addiction. Not one, not two, but three different women in the first few entries of Google claim marriage problems and addictive habits as a result of their obsession with "written porn" (they claim they didn't know it was bad for them).

I always wonder about the people writing these things. Are they shut-ins with no other way to connect with humanity? Are they savvy businesswomen who know they can make big bucks cranking out 450-page bundles of "throbbing" and "quivering" sex scenes? I'm not sure, but they do have a website.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself (Reese's Turn!)

Hi, I'm Reese. You may have heard of me in the infamous interview that Lizzie conducted last week, but since I'm going to be taking over here for the next week, I think you deserve a few more details than my love of avocados and my hatred of cats.

I'm a junior in college and I'm trying to be a writer. I work as Arts and Entertainment editor of the school newspaper, The Chronicle, and write for it weekly (my stories are linked on my blog). I'm writing, or attempting to write, a memoir about my exploits as Most Likely To Run Into A Ridiculous (and Hilarious) Situation And Tell All My Friends. I work every summer writing, editing, designing and doing photography for a travel publication about summer travel in New York State called Upstate Summer Fun. I enter tons of essay contests, start innumerable freelance projects that may or may not wind up being fruitful, and stay up late at night writing things that may never see the light of day but might end up making me rich (who knows?). My dream is to move west and publish a travel magazine based out of my Jeep. With my dog as co-editor.

Writing for "The Walmart Novels" will be a treat because it's so far off from what my blog is generally about. Reese In Pieces is the tangible evidence of my life as a writer; to date, there have been few opportunities for me to post pictures of penis-themed knitwear or review novels where a man shape-shifts into a leopard when he approaches his lover (metaphorical?).

At any rate, I'm looking forward to letting loose a little and exploring some of the fun and funny stuff that the smut world has to offer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Refreshing News and Billy Idol

I'll be on waitressing leave next week (guest-blogging over at Waiting on Wisdom), so I'm leaving you fine people in the hands of my most trustworthy and reliably bitter colleague: Teresa. What are you in store for? Let's find out.

The following answers are quoted verbatim:

What are your least favorite styles of music? Why?
Fucking opera, because I can't stand loud, screechy noises.

What was the last thing you bought at WalMart?
I don't remember. Why don't I remember!? Avocados. I think it was avocados. Say it was avocados.

What is the ideal name for a dog?

What is the worst book ever written?
Oh my god. Give me a moment to think about that one. Dude, what is the worst book ever written? There's this one by Danielle Steel that sucked so bad, but I forgot the name of it. 

How old were you when you got your first cell-phone?
Sixteen. It had flames on it.

How do you feel about Billy Idol?
I have no comment on Billy Idol.

Are swim-up bars really a good idea?
Yes. They are the best invention of humankind.

Where is the last place you would want to go on vacation?
Siberia...or China. Or Africa. Yes, Africa. Africa's worse than everything because they have Ebola. And female circumcision.

If you could only drink one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? might be coffee. I would probably drink espresso forever. Espresso or Jack Daniels.

How do you feel about cats?
I fucking hate cats. Spawn of Satan.  [Why do you hate cats so much?] I just do. You're either a cat person or a dog person, and I'm a cat person. Cats are stand-offish, bitchy...I don't want them and I don't like them. That's like trying to convince me to have children. It's not going to happen.

Have fun, guys. I think I'm leaving you in good hands.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Something Is Fundamentally Wrong with Me

Often, I wonder how and why I turned out the way I did. What exactly made me so full of rage? For a while, I'll pretend as though I don't know the answer. Then, I'll watch this video from my childhood. I subsequently realize that I've been this way all my life, and I sit back and accept it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten: the Top Six Old TV Shows

 Though some have tried, no one can convince me that this was not both the best and most inappropriate children's cartoon ever aired. Yeah, the newer version is terrible, but in its prime, Ren & Stimpy was fantastic. As a huge proponent of toilet jokes, I feel no qualms about ranking this number one on this list. Also, one of the main characters was a Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dog breeds in America -- I've even got two myself. I rest my case.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Twelve Things Fat Guys Shouldn't Wear

I am not only a connoisseur of fine literature and master in the art of romance; I've also got my finger on the ever-changing pulse of the fashion world.

And lately, I've noticed a problem:  fat dudes don't know how to dress themselves. Gone are the days of the jovially rotund robber-baron. 21st-century fat people are just dumpy. There's no longer any happiness to that lifestyle. Nowadays, it's perfectly normal to throw on a muumuu or sweatpants and be on one's way. This has to change.

 William H. Taft, one of Fat's biggest names, impeccably dressed and sittin' pretty.

Luckily, I'm here to help. Here's a handy list of things I hope to never see a fat man wearing. Feel free to distribute this advice around the office, at church, at your nearest Denny's, on a billboard, or wherever else you see fit:

1. Nothing. This is especially applicable if you are covered in bedsores or cellulite. Bonus level of repulsion if there's an excessive amount of hair.

2. Their hearts on their sleeves.

3. A feedbag.

4. Crocs. Crocs are gross on just about everyone.

5. Footie Pajamas.

6. Fewer than three chins. Go big or go home.

7. Ladies. Most fat guys don't have to worry about this.

8. Cargo shorts. Nobody should wear cargo shorts, but when fat guys wear them, the end result is someone who resembles a butternut squash.

9. Food stains or residue.

10. Pounds and pounds of fa-...oh, wait. I guess that's a lost cause.

11. Speedos.

12. Bibs. A bib implies a person who is serious about their food. Your body shape precedes the bib in making clear your enthusiasm for eating. The bib is just redundant.

Hope this helps!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

For Your Consideration: a Link Round-up

Joel Stickley, the William Strunk, Jr. of Walmart-level writers, has an entire blog dedicated to the art of alternative writing. In addition to this excellent style guide, Stickley has also written a book in which he's compiled and analyzed what he describes as "the poetry of the modern world."

Speaking of the modern world, the users over at b3ta have decided to take it upon themselves to modernize a few outdated movies, giving such classics as Casablanca and Nosferatu newer titles and making each movie more relevant to today's society.

Thank god for this list. Finally, someone has broken down the individual categories of romance novels and called into question their appeal. My personal favorite is number seven: paranormal romance.

Ah, and here we have a great product for anyone else who's a fan of the aforementioned category. And one for the ladies as well.

Underwear shoppers should proceed with caution -- one could end up like this girl. The note might've been a nice thought, but as one commenter pointed out, it appears as though the note-leaver referred to her as "George." I don't know about England, but in America that's grounds for being offended.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Exists.

Yep, it's what you think it is. And it's also $500.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Real Reviews

I'm willing to admit that my standards are a bit high when it comes to literature, and therefore my reviews may be slightly biased toward the negative.

So, to better understand the common people, and to get a feeling for the public's reception of Burning Wild, I took to the streets and tracked down a few volunteers who happily agreed to contribute their opinions on the book for the sake of science.
Here, actual Walmart customers review Christine Feehan's Burning Wild, with varying sentiments:

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Study in the Mating Habits of Panthera Pardus Sapiens, or Christine Feehan's Burning Wild

*First off, I’d like to preface this entire post by letting you all know that Burning Wild was almost 450 pages. Yes, 450. That’s four hundreds and a half, which is about four times the length this book should’ve been. I understand that there’s probably a huge market for lengthy bestiality novels, considering the fact that most people find both animals and long-winded works of literature arousing, but damn. Now excuse me while I go spend some quality 'alone time' with Ulysses.

The cover of Christine Feehan's Burning Wild boasts "a great read guaranteed!" and, in smaller text, a caveat stating that the offer ends on July 5, 2009. I'm not sure on the details of said offer, but it's now October, so I'm going to assume that the expiration of this guarantee was a contributing factor to why my experience with Burning Wild was so bad. Maybe I'm just taking it on after its prime date of consumption, after it's had time to congeal and fester into something that no longer really qualifies as a book.

Burning Wild centers around the saga of Jake Bannaconni and Emma Reynolds, polar opposites in terms of personality (because, you know, opposites attract and all that romantic tripe, blahblahblah).  Emma is sweet and soft-spoken, humble, gentle to a fault and as fragile as glass - so the perfect woman, if we're living by Victorian standards. And Jake, the brooding, misunderstood leopard shape-shifter with a tragic past and impossibly wealthy parents, combines the two things all women love most: billionaires and cats. Did I mention that they both have kids?

If it weren't obvious to the casual observer upon first picking up the novel, after reading the following description of Jake, it’s not difficult to figure out that Feehan’s target demographic is women who live alone and who spend their nights whispering sweet nothings to their kitties - sorry, furbabies:
    Jake Bannaconni was elite. He had superior intelligence, strength, vision, and sense of smell. Muscles rippled beneath his skin. He was one of the youngest billionaires ever reported by Forbes, and he wielded vast political power. He had the savage, animalistic magnetism of his species and the ruthless logic required to strategize and plan boardroom battles. He could attract and seduce the most beautiful women in the world, and frequently he did so; but he could not  make them love him.
Really? Do people still use the verb 'ripple' in application to muscles? Does that appeal to anyone? Because it just makes me think of men without skin. In theory it might sound all right, but if I ever saw a guy rippling his way down the street or just hanging out and rippling casually, I think I would be extraordinarily grossed out.

On the other hand, a superior sense of smell and the ability to plan boardroom battles are two qualities I find absolutely irresistible in a dude, so perhaps Feehan isn't missing the mark entirely.

Artist's interpretation of the ideal man. 

After Jake saves a pregnant Emma from certain death by pulling her from a burning car wreck (conveniently leaving her fiancé to die), he becomes obsessed with her, and in a move reminiscent of Buffalo Bill (so dreamy!), forces her to move on to his Texas estate, where the two live in relative isolation.  From there, they ultimately fall in love and have pages and pages worth of drawn-out sexual encounters. I'm not exaggerating when I say that what this book lacks in terms of interesting characters and plot development, it makes up for in its multitude of sex scenes.

If there's one thing Christine Feehan can do, it's write long and disagreeable descriptions of intercourse. There were several from which to choose an example, but here's one of the best: "He gripped her hips, tilted her just that much more and slammed home again and again, while her body rippled [ugh] and fought." Regardless of the use of the word ripple - which still offends me - this sentence is laughable in its unappetizing take on sex. There's nothing quite like the idea of slamming and correct angle positioning to get you in the mood - except, perhaps, something that's actually sexually appealing.

If there is anyone out there reading this strange erotic behemoth for a reason other than to gain a disturbing glimpse into America’s psyche, why? Almost 450 pages of passionate leopard sex should be more than enough to sate any shape-shifting enthusiast. It was definitely adequate in its ability to ruin any semblance of a sex drive I had before reading the book.

Burning Wild touched me in places I never wanted to be touched, and I'm pretty sure I'm set for life in terms of manleopard/catwoman romance. My eyes are now opened, my mind expanded, and I'm ready to take on the world.

Burning Wild's Overall Stats
Ability to Intimidate By Sheer Length: 100%.
Devotion to Overused Character Tropes: 85%.
Ridiculosity: 60% (the idea of shape-shifters isn't very new, but I'll give her a little credit for the whole business-magnate-beaten-by-his-parents spin).
Development of Unique Characters: -40%.
Sex/Plot Ratio: 80/10.
Euphemisms for Penis Used: 10.
Euphemisms for Vagina Used: 12 ("sensitive wall" being my favorite).
Hours Spent Reading: too many.
Ultimate Conclusion: I want to go to bed tonight and forget that this book exists. Burning Wild was basically a long, sexualized episode of Animorphs, only less interesting. I can't think of anyone to whom I would recommend this book, except for maybe someone intent upon spending the rest of their life erasing several graphic passages describing mating leopard-people from their head. If that sounds like you, then you can pick up your very own version of Burning Wild right here.

If my foray into the bowels of literature could end with Burning Wild, I think I could die happy, enlightened by my new worldview as a shape-shifter sympathizer. As it is, I've got to prepare myself for yet another lackluster experience next week, this time in the form of Patricia Briggs' Hunting Ground.

So it goes. Wish me luck, people. I'm doing this for you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Review Forthcoming...

In the immortal words of R. Kelly,"it's the freaking weekend, baby," and I'm off to the great white north for a while - going to explore Montréal's seedy underbelly to see if I can find any reading material up there. I can't imagine that Canadian romance novels are very sexé (that's French for 'sexy'), but I figured I'd keep my eyes open anyway.

I'm thinking lumberjacks covered in maple syrup...or possibly some historical fiction regarding Samuel de Champlain and his forbidden love affair with an Algonquian princess. I can't decide which I'd prefer, so I suppose I'll wait and see which is available. Hopefully both.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Burning Wild - a Preview

I really stumbled across the mother lode in terms of bad novels with Christine Feehan's Burning Wild. In passing, I mentioned the book to my friend (who, for some reason, was interested enough to remember the title). He, in turn, googled it, and we came across a treasure trove of information. Among it was this shining gem:

That's right, this book has a trailer. And it's not a televised trailer, either, because that's amateur level, and Christine Feehan doesn't play that way. Naw, she's got a Youtube trailer. She's clearly plateaued in her level of professionalism and, frankly, I'm jealous.

"omg tht was such an amazing book!!!!" writes one user; I'm convinced. Need more be said? Can't wait to break this baby open - I'm looking forward to it being one of the best reads of my young life.

No One Wins

In anticipation of the fantastic new additions which will soon be added to my library, I went to Walmart (duh) and bought a bookcase. Two weeks later and, appropriately, it's still sitting in the box, leaning ominously against the door to my room, a testament to my poor time-management skills.

Even before I bought it, I knew it would likely fail to live up to expectations, which is probably why I kept progress on its assembly at an even 0% for almost the entire time it's been here. Walmart never fails to deliver in the department of sub-par merchandise. But I couldn't avoid the inevitable disappointment forever, and I think I knew that. So, this weekend, I was feeling particularly ambitious, and I set about the momentous task of getting someone else to assemble this monster. It was difficult to avoid succumbing to the urge to put it together myself, but I fought valiantly against that desire, and after multiple volunteers "forgetting about" and "getting too drunk to focus on" my project , I finally found someone up to the challenge.

This anonymous soldier - so brave, so admirable - went as far as to open the box and to empty it of all parts before we came across a problem: integral pieces of the bookcase were broken. Like, the entire side, which normally would act as the supporting feature of a bookcase, was straight up cracked. It's clear, at this point, that this is Walmart's error. As much as I try, I have yet to harm something by avoiding it entirely.

So, typically Walmartesque in their existence, the pieces of broken wood lay scattered on the floor, unusable. This pissed me off on more than one level - now, after weeks of summoning the effort it took to get started on this thing, I'm going to have to exert myself again to take it back. In actuality, it'll probably sit in the hallway for the rest of the semester looking pathetic. For the moment, anyway, this failure of a bookcase has given me reason to postpone reading any slop, since I simply can not compel myself to read when not in the presence of proper book furniture.

I'm sorry, Walmart, but that's not okay. You're forcing me to spend money on depressingly strange, mind-numbing romance novels for the sake of sparing others the pain, and you can't even allow me the pleasure of having a decent place to store them? Even now, as they sit on top of my dresser, flanked by superior literature (and yes, I did arrange those books specifically for that picture), they just don't look right. Everything about them is wrong: the font on the spines, the titles, even the height of the individual books seems off. The fact that these books have been published makes me upset, and thinking about the fact that I purchased them is giving me good reason to go all existential crisis about the state of the world.

I'm a glutton for punishment, so I'm going to take a minute to consider the chain of people who had to look at these books and think "yeah, okay, let's go ahead and do this." Publishers, editors, writers...why? This means at least three different people had to think a book about sex with dragons was a good idea. They had to be confident that enough people would be interested in this book to make it worth mass-producing.

By purchasing Alchemy's Hot Kiss, or whatever this particular book is called, I contributed to that. I reassured them that yes, there is a market out there for human/beast/magician erotica.

And that's why I don't sleep well at night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ten Things You Should Be Reading

As the ultimate voice of reason in this blog, it should be my place to share with you my vast knowledge in the form of a suggested reading list. I've told you what you shouldn't read (namely, anything being sold at Walmart), so now I'll let you know what sort of literature I suppose would be acceptable. This here is a list of books and authors to which and whom I'm rather partial, for various reasons. Not all of these are literary titans, not all are considered classic works, but they're all united by the fact that I think they are excellent, and my opinion is really the only one that matters anyway.

If you haven't read some or all of these books and would like to take my advice to do so, I've provided links to the cheapest copies for sale. Buy them, read them, love them, and then love me because I recommended them.

1. Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita
This is my favorite book. Coincidentally, it can passably be called erotic literature (although it isn't)! Humbert Humbert is one of the most well-written fictional characters ever; he also ranks pretty high on my "Favorite Pedophiles" list (which, naturally, is extensive). I know this is going to sound unprofessional, but I can't explain why I love this book so much. The prose itself is beautifully flambouyant, and the narrator is perfect, but I couldn't tell you what exactly makes it so extraordinary. I'm going to go ahead and suggest that you read it and get back to me on this.

2. Charles Bukowski's Factotum / Women / Love Is a Dog From Hell
A lot of Bukowski's fiction is semi-autobiographical, Factotum included. Henry Chinaski plays the author's alter-ego, and he appears in the majority of Bukowski's novels/short stories. If you are a woman, you'll probably hate both yourself and Chinaski after reading Women. Or maybe you won't, but I did - the entire novel is practically a catalog of things that are wrong with Chinaski's many lady acquaintances. Despite that little hurdle, it's an interesting read, and if you're open to being made suspicious of men for the rest of your life, I totally recommend it. As for Love Is a Dog From Hell, Bukowski isn't the greatest poet, but a few of his poems are very pleasant, if sort of trite ("Bluebird" is a good example of this). As an aside, I recently discovered this lovely tribute to Bukowski's writing style, which may be even more entertaining than his original work (just kidding, Charlie, I love you).

3. John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces
This book is both hilarious and extremely depressing. The former because it was written as a comedy, and the latter because I can't help but see my future self reflected in Ignatius J. Reilly, world's biggest douchebag. He's slovenly, obese, philosophical, agoraphobic, and I wish he were real so that we could date.

4. Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion
I'm afraid if I elaborate upon my feelings for this book too much, my mother won't love me anymore. So, just in case she reads this blog, I'm going to preface this little description by saying that I think that the idea of god(s) is pretty neat. I'd imagine it's pretty comforting to be able to have faith enough to believe in the existence of a higher power. But the operative word there is faith, and that's an attribute for which I'm apparently left wanting. Dawkins suggests that we take refuge in the beauty of the world as its own entity, but I think we all know that science won't be responding to your prayers for a while. Anyway, if you're having an existential crisis, this book could either be a good or bad thing. It'll leave you feeling empty and well-educated.

5. Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon
I know this is generally required reading in high school, and that fact somehow qualifies Flowers for Algernon as lame, but I still think it's a fantastic book. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the mentally incapable - I think natural selection should've taken care of them a while ago, but since things don't look good in that department, I sit with it. This book made me rethink my stance on inferior beings, if only for a short period of time. If you want to feel a little better about your questionable morals re: substandard intelligence, pick this one up. It's like a guilt trip, but enjoyable.

6. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves
This book is a trip. Impressive both in content and form, which is really difficult for most writers to achieve. Initially I was a little pissed that I paid almost $30 for a book that's composed of 50% blank pages, but it was so worth it.

7. Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha
This one is a link to the full text online, so you have no excuse not to read it. It's a lovely allegorical novel about Siddhartha's struggles on his path to enlightenment. Read it, find your inner being/spirit animal/superhero, and take from it what you will.

8. Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince
I laughed, I cried, I got a tattoo. Just kidding, this book didn't make me laugh. I do love it, though. Enough to get one of the characters permanently emblazoned on myself. Hopefully it'll have the same effect for you.

9. Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World
I didn't expect Carl Sagan to become a recurring theme in this blog, but I guess I was mistaken. Maybe he's just influencing me from beyond the grave. Whatever the explanation, Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World crushes every myth you might've hoped to believe in. Take comfort in the idea that Nessie's out there? Looking for a Yeti? Like astrology? Sorry, you're totally wrong, and you're also ruining society by believing in that bullshit. Or, you know, so said Sagan.

10. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter (series)
I think there is something fundamentally wrong with people who can't enjoy Harry Potter or are ashamed to admit that they do. So here you go, Harry Potter, you've won yourself a coveted spot on some anonymous blog's recommended reading list. This, clearly, is the apex of your fame. Reach for the stars!