Last night I finished Viv Albertine’s memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir. I hadn’t planned on finishing it just yet. When I have a book that I find completely engrossing I typically leave the last thirty pages and read one a day. I like to give myself a month to live with a great character but I couldn’t exercise that much self control with this particular book. It was that compelling.
I know Viv Albertine the way a host of other 40 something women know Viv Albertine. We know her from The Slits, particularly Typical Girls – which made everyone I know want to be them. We wanted their hair, their clothes, their talent – but most of all we wanted their nerve and their friendship. They were a group of women negotiating the world together and I remember hearing their music and somehow knowing that if I listened enough they’d take me on this journey.
No such luck, but teens are prone to magical thinking and I certainly enjoyed the fantasy.
Clothes Music Boys is the perfect memoir for the first lady of Punk Rock. It’s accessible, it’s readable, it’s myopic – telling only Viv’s story – which is a complicated story to tell. No need to ruin it by trying to weave a bunch of other stories into it. Half a page for Nancy Spungeon? That works for me. Sid Vicious peed on her? That tells me everything I need to know. She married a guy with a motorcycle and a work ethic, who cares what his name is? The focus is on Viv. Albertine does a wonderful job of sharing herself with the readers with the same raw edges that she shared with us all those years ago.
If you’re looking for a studio produced album The Slits and later a solo Viviane Albertine will only disappoint you. If you’re looking for a book that’s free from slang and grammatical errors this is the wrong book for you. Just as Viv used “me” instead of “I” for what seemed like the millionth time she inserted a tiny little vignette of the publisher asking her to use a ghostwriter. A child, if you will, of 23 who had written articles but never a book. I forgive you Viv for all your “me’s”. If you’re a woman who craves closeness with other women, if you’re a mother who has ever felt trapped or a wife who fell fantastically in love only to find the reality of marriage jarringly ordinary this is a book you must read. You’ll probably want to pass it along to a girlfriend. That’s what Typical Girls do after all, don’t they?
You’ll find yourself in the pages of Clothes Music Boys even if you weren’t looking.
I’m going to spend the next two hours lying in the pool and reading this.
I’m going to pretend that I’m the sister who left her children for a life of leisure and that my 14 year old daughter who happens to be home today is actually a butler who has no emotional needs.
And then I’m probably going to be up all night doing the crap I should have done today. It’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.
This morning I got an email from a PR team at one of the publishing houses here in the US. It was an ordinary pitch email that I didn’t delete only because I recognized the author’s name and thought it was strange that she didn’t email me directly. The pitch was a very standard one, talked about the book, why she wrote the book and all the accolades she’s received online. It’s the pitch most bloggers would send out when their book is published but it’s weird.
This is someone who I’ve met. Why wouldn’t she email me? Why wouldn’t the email start with The Author asked me to reach out to you because …. [insert sloppy kissing up here]. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
I hate to belabor bad pitching because my personal belief is that bloggers are much more atrocious at execution than publicists could ever be at blogging. This isn’t even bad pitching, this is just “off”.
When Marsha Collier’s books come out the publisher sends them but there’s always a handwritten note inside. In fact, Marsha’s the one who sends the email asking for my address, not her publisher. I understand that most people can’t work the way Marsha does. I know I can’t keep up with her.
There’s something missing. Other bloggers are the closest thing I have to co-workers so an impersonal pitch from an almost-coworker sends a message. The message is, “You aren’t someone I’d ever help back.”
Photo Credit Lolly Knit on Flickr via creative commons.
My book club is reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Everyone I know on Facebook and Goodreads is reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Months ago one of the Pocahontas‘ suggested I read it and I dutifully walked into Barnes and Noble only to find that it was backordered.
And then I realized it was mom porn. I’m trying to figure out what the hell mom porn is. Is it a whole book full of husbands who take out the trash, play with the kids and then get bonus checks? Maybe mom porn is about a woman who works out all morning, lunches with friends and then has time to nap before picking kids up in her new Bentley SUV?
I want to know what Mom Porn is people!
So I downloaded a sample to my Nook and immediately recognized the fact that my girlfriends have lost their minds. Can you imagine hundreds of pages of this?
She hands me a security pass that has “visitor” very firmly stamped on the front. I can’t help my smirk. Surely it’s obvious that I’m just visting. I don’t fit in here at all. Nothing changes. I inwardly sigh. Thanking her, I walk over the bank of elevators and past the two security men who are both far more smartly dressed than I am in their well-cut black suits.
A page later:
She’s more nervous than me!
Really, that was the sentence.
Chapter two begins with:
My heart is pounding. The elevator arrives on the first floor, and I scramble out as soon as the doors slide open, stumbling once but fortunately not sprawling onto the immaculate sandstone floor. I race for the wide glass doors, and suddenly I’m free in the bracing, cleansing, damp air of Seattle. Raising my face, I welcome the cool, refreshing rain. I close my eyes and take a deep, purifying breath, trying to recover what’s left of my equilibrium.
I’m just not understanding what part of this is engaging. I know the ladies of facebook say, “it’s all about the sex”.
So, I’m supposed to read a horrendous plot so that I can get to the sex? Maybe the moms don’t need 50 shades and they should treat it just like any other porn and fast forward to the good part? I cannot bring myself to buy this book. It’s just ghastly looking to me. I wish I had an anonymous blog because I think book club will be pretty uncomfortable next month.
A few months ago my Rheumatologist added Plaquenil to my drug cocktail. Before beginning Plaquenil you have to get an eye exam where they do some sort of baseline measurement of your peripheral vision. I went to UCLA and filled out the necessary paperwork while waiting to be seen. There was a little box that asked when my last eye exam was. I left it blank. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had an eye exam.
The doctor was a little surprised that I’d never had an exam and explained to me that in our early forties our eyes lose their round shape and begin to elongate, hence the need for “readers”. She said that it would probably happen for me within a year or two and that I shouldn’t be particularly surprised when I find that I need a set of readers.
Naturally I hurried home to tease my husband about his advanced age and elongated eyeballs. I figured the doctor was was a little off base on the old lady eyes and that I wouldn’t be wearing glasses any time soon.
Last week I was teasing Mr G once again about how terribly old he is. I put on his reading glasses so that I could further mock him, and I bent over to pick up my iPhone when something unbelievable happened. I realized I could see. Angry Birds Rio has a really detailed background, I thought it was a solid blue, uh, no there are ripples in those waves. When I put on the +1.25’s I could see. I ran to the mirror and took a good look at my skin and realized I was way past due for a facial.
I still haven’t dragged myself out of the house to buy a pair of magnifying readers, but I do borrow Mr. G’s. All of a sudden we’ve become that couple. The couple that’s so familiar with one another that I sit in bed, crack open a book and say, “Honey, can you please pass the glasses?”