I am back! Sort of!

Argh, catching up after vacation is hard. I keep forgetting to write reviews of the books I read on vacation. They were not that numerous, all things considered.

So here is what I want from you.

1. Advice. I likedish Three Men in a Boat but then I remembered that Jerome K. Jerome and I are implacable sworn enemies. Because of this one time that Jerome K. Jerome said that this magazine The Chameleon should be pursued by the cops, and Oscar Wilde had contributed some perfectly reasonable things to The Chameleon, and then the Marquess of Queensberry was all, “What is this Chameleon business? Eek! Sodomy!” and one thing led to another and before you know it Oscar Wilde was in court explaining why a story about a pervy priest that he had not written was a bad story. And then he was sentenced to two years of hard labor and only the Bible and Charles Dickens to read. So.

Wait, I forgot what this was about.

Oh right. Where you come in: There is a BBC film of Three Men in a Boat, starring Tim Curry, and I had chosen not to watch it because I like Tim Curry, but I hate Jerome K. Jerome more. But now it turns out Tom Stoppard wrote it, and I am just not sure whether I hate Jerome K. Jerome more than I love Tom Stoppard. I’m not sure I love anyone more than I love Tom Stoppard, particularly since I am going to see Arcadia later this year. Thoughts? Do I love Tom Stoppard more than I hate Jerome K. Jerome?

2. Self-promotion by you. What did you post while I was away? Did you read anything particularly awesome that you feel I should know about? Did you write a particularly witty and insightful Sunday Salon post? Please link me! I am going to Mark All As Read in my Google Reader very soon, just as soon as I find a way to force myself to do it. I hate Marking All As Read. I will find it easier if you link me links and imply to me that the links in questions are the best links for me to read.

3. Praise and support. When I was away, I found a copy of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Bird’s Nest. Rejoice with me, Jackson fans! I’m saving it for a gloomy day. Also, I have given up the word “like” for Lent. I think I can do it! I can still use it in places where it is reasonable to use it, but I won’t use it as conversational filler. I am hoping that by the end of Lent, I will have fallen out of the habit of saying “like”, and will stop it forever.

I love you! Once I catch up on work I will be properly back, with the posting and the commenting.


54 thoughts on “I am back! Sort of!

    • Thanks! It’s going medium. Last year (or the year before?) I gave up swearing for Lent and it went catastrophically. This is better so far! That probably says something terrible about me. :p

    • I should also mention that I feel mildly resentful of Tom Stoppard being BFF with Jerome K Jerome by adapting his play. Stop it, Tom Stoppard! You love Oscar Wilde! PICK A SIDE. (is how I feel)

  1. I haven’t seen the movie but I just checked Netflix and there is another version from 1956 that has David Tomlinson (love! so funny!). I’m going to put it on my list right now (with a grain of salt because it mentions meeting “fetching young ladies” which does not actually happen in the story, right?).

    • David Tomlinson — do I know who that is? *checks IMDB* Oh! That guy! Mary Poppins/Bedknobs and Broomsticks guy! If you watch it, tell me what it’s like!

  2. 1. I think you love Tom Stoppard more than you hate Jerome K. Jerome, because Tom Stoppard glorious and witty and his way with words is just… oy!

    Also, you can always turn it off if it turns out your JKJ hatred trumps your TS love after all.

    2. I want to say that everything I wrote while you were gone was BRILLIANCE INCARNATE, but that’s a bare-faced lie. So.

    I’m trying to make myself mark all as read in my own Google Reader, but thus far I haven’t been able to do so, even though I barely read any blogs in February and I’ve been so intimidated by the large All Items count that I’ve barely read any blogs thus far in March, either. Sigh.

    3. When I was six, I met a young person who said like incessantly. I swore I would NEVER BE LIKE HIM. Then I, too, started saying like incessantly, and that kind of went down the tube.

    It may be too late for me, but it’s not too late for you. You can do it!

    (Although, I don’t think I say like too often. I write it more, because I am all about replicating actual speech patterns and all that jazz. Except when I’m all about writing things that no one would ever actually say, just because they look funky on paper.)

    • 1. We’ll see. Tom Stoppard is swell but he’s differing degrees of swell at different times.

      2. Memory, everything you write is brilliance incarnate! OBVS.

      3. I regret giving up “like” the most when I’m writing letters home, or blog posts (not that I’ve written any blog posts in Lent so far). It can add comic effect! I miss not being able to do that. :/

  3. I’m not sure anything could keep me from reading work by an author I love. (Watching?) Of course you must see it. Re-examining idees fixes can be your OTHER Lenten project! πŸ˜›

    • I don’t need to reexamine my idee fixe. My idee fixe is totally justified. Jerome K Jerome is a patronizing, small-minded jerk. Besides, I’m not refusing to read/watch something Tom Stoppard wrote about Jerome K Jerome (I can’t imagine he’d bother, JKJ is not that interesting) — I’m (possibly) refusing to watch Stoppard’s adaptation of JKJ material. It’s fundamentally JKJ! So.

  4. I had no idea that Jerome K. Jerome was such a bastard! I loved Three Men in a Boat, but didn’t know about this other business and now am going to have to revise my opinion, because I also love Oscar Wilde.

    I do not have any revolutionary or enlightening posts to share with you, because my reading has been “meh” of late, though I have read several really good reviews of A Visit By the Good Squad, and Sandy’s was especially good :http://sandynawrot.blogspot.com/2011/03/visit-from-good-squad-jennifer-egan.html

    I am also really impressed with your Shirley Jackson score and hope that you enjoy it when the time comes.

    I have given cigarettes up for Lent, and am hoping that like you, by the end of the season, I will have given them up for good.

    Glad you are back!

    • He is! He is a bastard! I hate him forever! :p Thanks for the link — that was indeed an excellent review. It sounds like a really intriguing book, especially for me since I love unusual narrative structures.

      Wow, good for you giving up cigarettes! I will say a Lenten prayer for you. :p

  5. I haven’t thought to give up anything for Lent, although I suppose I should. I have a friend who once gave up being polite to people, but I suppose that’s not quite in the spirit of the thing. Naturally all my posts have been wonderful but I don’t for a moment expect you to read them. πŸ˜‰ As for JKJ, I feel his involvement in Three Men and a Boat is significantly less once it has been placed in the hands of a director and a screenwriter and a cast and filmcrew, so he would be so diluted as to be a negligible influence. You can attribute all the bad bits to him and all the good bits to Stoppard and remain unflaggingly loyal to Oscar, I feel.

    • Gave up being polite to people? Why? I mean, why would that be a satisfying thing to give up for Lent? I like being polite to people! It makes them be nicer to you. (Especially in New York. If I turn on the Southern accent and say things like “I surely do beg your pardon”, everyone is triple nice to me. :p)

      I will always be unflaggingly loyal to Oscar! FOREVER. But you may have a point.

  6. Yay you’re back! You don’t say ‘like’ as much as most people in New York. One day I will kill all the valley girls in front of me in checkout lines. This will happen. ‘So, like, he said, like, don’t come, and I’m like, where has this, like come from?!, like, do you know what I mean, like, isn’t that totally, like, ridiculous?’


    • Hahahaha, Rachel, it’s so funny you say that. My little sister and I both had that exact same reaction when we were in England. I was ready to stab the trashy Essex girls in the face when I was on the bus and they were all innit innit innit; and my sister got wildly fed up with trashy Yorkshire girls.

  7. I think I need to read or see Three Men in a Boat because of Connie Willis, so I will get to decide who I hate too! (not that I know what the heck you’re talking about, but that’s because I haven’t read/seen it yet!)

    • Oh, sorry, I was being too obscure. I’m such a jerk. I have been in love with Oscar Wilde stuff for so long I start to think everyone knows everything about him too. Yeah, so, the Marquess of Queensberry was Wilde’s boyfriend’s father, and he was severely unbalanced. Wilde’s boyfriend (Bosie) hated his father, with good reason, and provoked him like crazy, and eventually the Marquess of Queensberry (already touchy on the subject of sodomy since it was rumored his eldest son committed suicide following a gay affair with a minister called Lord Rosebery) began this persecution campaign of Oscar Wilde, culminating in his leaving a note at Oscar Wilde’s club that said “for Oscar Wilde, posing as somdomite [sic]”. Then Bosie convinced Oscar Wilde to sue for libel; the defense lawyers dug up a lot of trash; and after that trial was over, the state prosecuted him for gross indecency. It was sort of Oscar Wilde’s own damn fault.

  8. Many poets and fiction writers are assholes, and we don’t have to deal with that. If they’re big enough assholes in public, I don’t buy their books anymore, even though it’s killing me that the library hasn’t gotten the new Orson Scott Card book on the shelf for me yet. I’m with Mumsy, too–why limit your experience? If we only read writers who were nice, the world would be a much more boring place. One of the songs I live by is what the witch sings in the second act of Into the Woods –“you’re so nice…you’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice…”

    • It’s not niceness I demand. If it were nice I wouldn’t get anywhere. But I do like it better when I can feel that authors I love (or anything! football players I love, or actors, or historical figures) are good people. I hate having to qualify my affection. And I so often do.

      Basically I read lots of authors who were jerks, but it makes me happier to read authors who are cool. Lots of them are! Tom Stoppard seems charming. Neil Gaiman and Diana Wynne Jones both seem unfailingly gracious and kind. I have avoided learning more about Rumer Godden because I have some suspicions about her. :p

  9. Oh no I didn’t know that about JKJ and Oscar Wilde! I love Oscar Wilde based only on Dorian Gray and many wonderful people being him on film (ok and that he looks like he was kind of a fox), but I imagine if you’re you and way more read up on Wilde it must be a hard thing to let go.

    I ahven’t written anything interesting since you’ve been away, but I did read To Say Nothing of the Dog and loved it, laughed tons and there is a comic dog. I rceommend it, although I haven’t reviewed it yet.

  10. Welcome back! I vote yes to watching the movie. And then you must tell us all about it πŸ˜›

    I don’t have a post to promote, but I did want to tell you about a book I mentioned briefly last week in a catch-up post: The Importance of Music to Girls by Lavinia Greenlaw. It’s a memoir of growing up in Britain in the 70’s! Feeling all isolated and finding comfort in music! I should warn you that it’s pretty stream-of-consciousness-y, but I loved the writing and so it worked for me despite that.

  11. I’m glad you’re back, and hope you had fun! I would tell you the awesome things I am reading this week, but they are both books I read about on your blog: The Opposite House–and I just got an email notification that I can pick up my library hold copy of Among Others!

    I have tried now and then to consciously replace “like” with “as if” and “sort of” and “I/he/she said” and “it was as if I/she/he was saying.” Which do not roll trippingly off the tongue. Like, immediate failure. It’s annoying the way nothing else quite does what “like” does, even as a filler; in giving up a word like “like” you are in some ways giving up a habit of thought, which is far harder. I admire your grit in taking this on for lent.

    (And now I am trying to remember the last time I gave something up for lent. I am thinking it was chocolate about 9 years ago. Can that be?!! Sounds so unlike me. I distinctly remember giving up table salt once when I was a kid.)

    • I did indeed have fun! And I am delighted that you have acquired these two excellent books! Isn’t Helen Oyeyemi excellent?

      I’m not giving up “like” as a synonym for “as if”. I think that’s a valid use. But I am giving it up as conversational filler. It makes me talk slower, which I guess is good.

      Trapunto, why on earth did you give up table salt? What did table salt do that offended little you?

  12. I agree with Jeanne — I’d rarely read much of anything if I only read books by nice people. Or saw art by nice people, either. Or movies starring nice people. Hate JKJ all you want, but see the movie.

    Welcome back! And good luck eliminating “like.” I have started correcting my own 6-year-old daughter for saying this, and ACK OH NO I CAN REMEMBER MY MOTHER DOING THIS TO ME IT IS THE CIRCLE OF LIFE.

    • I don’t, I don’t, I don’t only watch and read and look at things by nice people! I don’t! I just have a mild preference for feeling fond of the people whose work I am consuming. Otherwise I am always thinking about the terrible things I know about the authors.

  13. I am guilty of saying like too often!! If I practiced Lent, I would certainly try and give it up. I don’t use it as much as I used to, but every once in a while it slips back in and I get mad at myself πŸ˜‰

    Glad to see your back! On the blog today I have a slightly snarky review, you might get a kick out of it!

    We love you too!

    • I gave it up last year but it came back. I think this time it’s going to work though! This time it’s leaving for good! I am a grown-up and I shall talk like a grown-up, dammit!

  14. Hi Jenny! I found you on Striped Armchair so I came on over. I hate to bog down your “to read” list, but in terms of what’s been going on at my blog, I just hit 100 books on my quest to find the best 500 self-published fiction titles on the market. I’m so excited about these books, but I need some other people to help me read them all … hope you find something you like there!

  15. Ha ha. I use ‘like’, like, constantly. Half the time I don’t even know I’m saying it. I can’t wait for my kids to get old enough to make fun of me for that.

    I didn’t write anything fascinating while you were gone, but I did draw a picture of the Sparkling Enope Squid.

    Missed your updates, hope you had an awesome trip!

  16. I’m glad you had a fun vacation. Through a series of sucky circumstances, I’ve failed to see my best friends since my birthday; one or the other of us has been sick every time we made plans.

    You definitely love Tom Stoppard more than you hate Jerome K Jerome. Tom Stoppard is fab.

    Significant things I’ve posted? Hm. Another giveaway? http://wp.me/pPJcV-mh

    • Also, good luck with Lent. I know I would fail miserably if I tried something like “like”. Except that my worst vices are “ya know?” and “Anyways” rather than “like.”

    • Oh, that’s terrible! Growing up is a bummer because you often move away from lovely people you have known forever. It was so relaxing and wonderful to see my people again.

      Oo, a giveaway! I shall investigate!

  17. Welcome back!

    I advise watching the film. As Memory said, if it turns out your JKJ hate overshadows the rest you can always turn it off again. I think if your love of Tom Stoppard is not enough on its own, though, perhaps the combination of love for Stoppard, Curry and then having likedish the story itself might be. (But borrow it before you buy it just in case!)

    I’m afraid my blogging continues to be sort-of non-existent. (I have post ideas that I’m working on, but since they’re a work-in-progress they’re not actually posted yet and so I cannot link you to them.)

    I wish you good luck with giving up the word ‘like’! It’s a mighty effort. ❀ Hope your vacation was wonderful!

    • Oh, I’m definitely not buying it. I’ll rent it or get it from the library, assuming that I can find it at the library — the library’s DVD organizational system is a little sketchy.

      My vacation was indeed wonderful! Vacations are smashing! πŸ˜€

  18. Nice to see you back, Jenny! Hope you had a wonderful vacation. Sorry to know that you don’t like Jerome K. Jerome. He is one of my favourite writers. I didn’t know though that his comment led to Oscar Wilde being put in prison. That is really sad. I can see why you don’t like Jerome K. Jerome.

  19. My sister says like all the time when she speaks English, I have adviced her to try not to use it when you’re doing an interview to get admitted to an American graduate school, I hope she remembers. It is hard to try and stop using words like that (heh), I also have them when I speak Dutch (I don’t know about English, I don’t speak that a lot, I just use a small range of words while writing because I don’t know more than those), and I use certain filler words in Dutch all the time when writing essays. I have family members checking my essays before turning them in. They now count my use of certain words.

    Um, anyway. I’m glad you’re back. I hope you had a good vacation!

    • What filler words do you use in Dutch? What do they mean? I am so curious!

      Also, your English is really good. I am always greatly impressed with your blog posts because I would utterly fail at writing posts in any language other than my own. I might manage Latin…

  20. I had no idea about Jerome K. Jerome! I haven’t read Three Men in a Boat, but have read Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog, which made me want to read Jerome’s book just to see the similarities.

    My son needs to give up “like” but I’d say that I need to give up “you know.” Because I use it too much in spoken conversation, you know? πŸ˜‰ It drives me crazy when I hear myself say it without even thinking.

  21. So I forgot how I got here but I’m pretty sure I was wandering around Google. >_> Thingsmeanalot.com might have something to do with it. <_ or JKJ. So it’s less evenly balanced, at least from my clueless has-no-idea-about-actors-or-anything, never been here before viewpoint. Hence the maths. ^_^ So, to summarize;
    TC + TS > JKJ

    In my opinion. But I’d rather read the book.

    Also, being new is my excuse for responding to this thing so late. =D

  22. Thank you so much for your website & for your Diana Wynne Jones week, which jumpstarted my tour through her wacky kingdom. I am so grateful!

    Your discussion here of your implacable hatred of Jerome K. Jerome reminds me of a story which I’m sure you know. It is about Diana Wynne Jones and Arthur Ransome. It is mentioned in a lovely post by Keith Oatley about re-reading books from childhood. (http://www.onfiction.ca/2010/07/re-reading-swallows-and-amazons.html)

    Briefly: DWJ met Ransome when she was a child and when he was a misanthropic old man who “hated children.” At this meeting, he yelled at her mother for all the noise a group of children had been making.

    While she was growing up, DWJ’s parents gave her & her sisters exactly one book per year to share between the three of them, at Christmas. The books were Arthur Ransome’s “Swallow and Amazons” series. DWJ remembers these being the only children’s books she read until she was a mother.

    Oatley reflects, in post-script to the blog article: “I’m in London at the moment and, still thinking about how Arthur Ransome could be such a delightful and sensitive writer about childhood and such a grumpy old man, I just came across this in the programme of Alan Bennett’s new play ‘The habit of art,’ about W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten: “Real artists are not nice people. All their best feelings go into their work and life has the residue.’ — W.H. Auden.”

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