My rating: 4/5 stars
The Peak: a university student newspaper with a hard-hitting mix of inflammatory editorials, hastily thrown-together comics and reviews, and a news section run the only way self-taught journalists know how—sloppily.
Alex and Tracy are two of The Peak‘s editors, staring down graduation and struggling to keep the paper relevant to an increasingly indifferent student body. But trouble looms large when a big-money free daily comes to the west-coast campus, threatening to swallow what remains of their readership whole.
It’ll take the scoop of a lifetime to save their beloved campus rag. An exposé about the mysterious filmed-on-campus viral video? Some good old-fashioned libel? Or what about that fallen Hollywood star, the one who’s just announced he’s returning to Simon Fraser University to finish his degree?
I had all sorts of preconceived notions going into The Dilettantes. I thought I wouldn’t relate to it for various reasons, all of which were dumb and easily dismissed once I started reading. I think I was creating an elaborate defence mechanism, so if I didn’t like the book, I could be like “WELL it’s just because of X Y and Z” instead of having to say “I just didn’t like it,” which would be awkward because I will likely see the author at numerous literary events in Edmonton over the next few months. Luckily, I did like the book. A lot.
I thought it might be fun (…for me) to talk about all those excuses I came up with before reading the book, and how they were (mostly) overcome.
1. It’s about Millennials! Millennial are whiny and self-absorbed! I will strain something from rolling my eyes too much!
Depending who you ask, I’m a Gen-Xer by a margin of three months, or a Millennial by a margin of nine. Guess which one I choose to identify with? Yeah, I was only ten when Nevermind was released, but I spent my formative years without a cellphone or high speed internet. But here’s the thing: all “new adults” are whiny and self-absorbed. I mean, Catcher in the Rye, anyone? I wrote horrible poetry in a notebook when I was pretending to study, while these kids were probably posting to their Tumblrs or whatever. Big diff. The generational thing wasn’t an issue at all.
2. It’s about kids who actually went to class. And joined things, like newspapers. I hated those people. And also sort of regret I wasn’t one of those people. It’s complicated.
I don’t read a lot of campus novels. Maybe part of the reason is my ambivalence about my own university career. I was a great student. I just didn’t care about university, academically or socially. I didn’t make any friends. I certainly didn’t join any clubs. I went to the minimum number of classes I could get away with and didn’t contribute anything more than I had to. My energies, such as they were, were put towards clubbing and boys. This book made me feel at once nostalgic for something I never had, and relieved that I delayed the burden of giving a shit about stuff for a few more years. It also made me stop and evaluate a time in my life that was really difficult for me. When a book can make you do that, well, what more can you ask for? Continue reading
Who knew I could do enough book and bloggy things in one month to warrant an update?
September was a challenging month. Henry went through pink eye, thrush, teething, and colds. He still doesn’t sleep at night. Or ever. But, I feel like I’m getting back into a groove. My commitment to read every day helps a lot. There were a few days where it didn’t happen, but usually, if I tell myself “just one sentence,” I’ll end up reading a few pages. I may never be as prolific a reader and blogger as most, but this feels good.
I got books! And things!
- Won: Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by DT Max, a biography of the late David Foster Wallace. The Edmonton Journal’s book columnist Michael Hingston (@mhingston) had an extra copy to give away and I entered on a whim; I’ve never read any of DFW’s work. I was going to jump right in with Infinite Jest, but Michael suggested I start with something a little less ambitious, like Consider the Lobster. “Considering” that Infinite Jest is more than a thousand pages long, I think I’ll take that suggestion. Check out Michael’s blog for lots of local literary goodness.
- Bought: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. This might just be the longest book I’ve ever attempted. Eek.
- Bought: Love in the Time of Cholera. See my rant about the cover here.
- Gifted: A brand new, pink Kobo Glo. It’s great! Mostly. Review to come.
I read books! Yes, plural, BOOKS.
- Vineland by Thomas Pynchon – I wrote up my initial thoughts on this excellent book. Four stars, nearly five.
- From Away by Michelle Ferguson – Review soon. Interesting themes but the characters didn’t come alive for me. Three stars.
I did things on other blogs!
- I guest blogged on Reading in Winter. Check out my post on Paranormal in Classic Literature. What a great experience. Kristilyn even helped me with the final touches as I was in the middle of sleep hell with my seven month old.
- I created my Classics Club list! Now I just have to actually join. I figure it’ll be book snob central – so excited.
- I committed to do a guest post for Angry Vegan in October. It’s not a book blog, so I’ll have to come up with something a little different. Here’s a guest post I did last year about my week-long vegan challenge failure.
Here’s to an even more productive October. And hopefully some sleep.