60 Books In 2019 #41: City Of Girls By Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert was there for me when I needed her. That’s the only way I can describe what happened when I read Eat, Pray, Love, which I think people greatly misjudge. It’s about a moment and getting out of that moment. I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project around the same time, for the same reasons. I was in a rut.

Since then I’ve dipped in and out of Gilbert’s work. I love her non fiction but City Of Girls is the first of her novels I’ve read. It’s a wonderful work of historical fiction, witty, a little silly and fabulous.

In the summer of 1940 Vivian Morris is expelled from Vassar College and moves to New York City to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns and runs a theater in Time’s Square, The Lily. The Lily puts on trashy, half assed entertainments and Vivian falls in love with life there.

She also, sort of, falls in love with a showgirl named Celia Ray and the two spend the summer running around New York partying. When a legitimate actress and old friend of Peg’s shows up, The Lily goes legit, and Vivian finds herself caught up in a scandal that brings her frivolous world crashing down around her.

It’s a hard plot to sum up because not a lot happens, it’s a feeling book, made up largely of how Vivian relates to the people, and especially the women around her. It’s about those times in our lives that make us who we are and why they’re important. And I like that in a novel, especially a historical fiction novel. I also like that about Gilbert’s writing so I think that this fits.

It’s a worthwhile book, not a game changer, but lovely, smart, and an interesting picture of a place and time. Gilbert’s writing tics are present, and the Vivian’s voice sometimes feels a bit too contemporary to my ears, but otherwise, it’s worth reading.

Up Next: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory, it’s time for some romance and silliness. YAY!

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 4

Rebels played a long game that I got impatient with when I watched it the first time and I now deeply regret bailing on.

Ezra’s story is a deeply interesting take on coming of age, and actually reminded me of my beloved The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce (also about a mystical teen who has a magic connection to animals.) Ezra’s connection to the force in the end feels more akin to Yoda’s than any other Jedi we’ve seen in the series, he feels the world around him the way that Yoda does, especially on Dagobah, or in Ezra’s case on his home world of Lothal. (Also, he saves Ahsoka with Force time travel and concept that now exists in my universe and I’m so grateful for it.)

Sabine and Zeb also get strong supporting arcs, becoming leaders in their own rights, as they move along in the world. They’re both savior figures for their people which is cool and dedicated warriors who fight for the freedom of the galaxy.

And now it’s time, we need to talk about Hera and Kanan and the deep tragedy of it all. Hera Sandulla is a remarkable character. She’s strong and brave and awesome and she becomes a hero of the Rebellion and even fights in the battle of Endor! This is of course after the tragic loss of the love of her life, Kanan Jarris, Caleb Dume, Mediocre Jedi Knight. Also he becomes a force wolf.

It’s great.

Look, as I said to Jess on facebook last week, I’m ALL IN for Filoni and his mystical Force hoo-ha. And Season 4 is full to the brim with it. Especially Ezra’s ending, where he uses his magical Force connection to the space whales to shoot off into the unknown.

The show ends properly with an epilogue by Sabine, talking about how the Ghost crew made it through the main trilogy, fighting on the rebellion side. Hera and Rex were even on Endor. Also, Hera was pregnant! I hope that Jacen didn’t have the Force and go to Luke’s Jedi Academy and get murdered by Kylo Ren…and…I just gave myself a sad. Anyway, with the Empire defeated Sabine decides to go off in search of Ezra, with Ahsoka at her side.

The show ends with a bright white light of hope which is amazing.

It’s incredible how quickly I turned and loved these characters. I was so lukewarm on the show when it started, and I was devastated by the time it ended. (To be fair, Kanan was always the part of the show I was all in on, so that makes sense.)

Next week we’ll talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Disney era movie that I like the least, but recognize on a technical and critical level is actually the best.

From D23

I might just do a separate post about the D23 news. Mainly, you know OBI-WAN. But as I wrote this up, I realized The Mandalorian takes place after the main trilogy. And a certain Mandolorian of our acquaintance jetted off into the unknown after Endor…I’m just saying…Pedro Pascal should cross paths with Sabine.

60 Books In 2019 #40: Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck

If I could pick anywhere at any time to go on vacation, it would be Paris, 1925-ish, get to hang out with the Lost Generation, and drink champagne and eat in cafes and where fabulous linen dresses.

I have no illusions about who those men actually were, assholes at best and monsters at worst, which is why I wouldn’t want to live among them, just go on vacation.

Hemingway’s Girl takes place after that glittering era, about ten years later, when a nineteen year old girl named Mariella Bennett gets a job working as a maid in Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West. Mariella becomes smitten with the author, despite his marriage and a growing relationship with a far more appropriate veteran working for the EPA just north of the island.

I have a soft spot for historical fiction about the women near the “great men.” There’s a silliness to it, but a great deal of fun too, and that’s what I had with Hemingway’s Girl, Mariella is a delightful heroine, strong and willful and a little bit out of her depth. Robuck’s picture of Hemingway is bright and fun and intoxicating. It also got me looking at Air BnB’s in Key West for the winter, so we’ll see how that goes.

This wasn’t a great book, by any means, but did get me thinking I should give Ernest another shot. (I hated him in highschool, and even though I got it a lot more in college, still would rather read Fitzgerald for my bare bones prose of that era.)

Up next is City Of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert which I have been waiting all stinking summer to read and I am so so excited. (It just came in from the library last week!) 20 Books left in my challenge which I feel pretty good about at the moment.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 3

It turns out I’d watched more of Season 3 than I thought. Mostly because I remembered everyone buzzing about Saw Guerrera being in Rogue One and the return of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It’s not as strong a season, though Ezra has a fly new haircut, and Bendu the middle way Force-beast is badass. Plus Admiral Thrawn. (Though Thrawn’s inclusion is really just another thing for Fanboy Types to get yelly about, and insist that Mara Jade be a thing. Look, we have a new side female character we want in everything now, and it’s Ahsoka.)

Speaking of. She dead.

I don’t like it. But functionally I get it. It’s a deeply important story decision, and she needed closure to her arc.

Oh and Kenobi. Ezra chases a vision of Maul to Tatooine and getting lost in the desert, he is saved by Kenobi, who basically tells him he’s in the wrong story. (This is ridiculous, what am I doing here?) It’s a nice way to put up boundaries between Ezra and Luke, who by all reasonable metrics are peers. Ezra leaves to return to his family, the crew of the ghost. Maul finds Obi-Wan, they duel and Maul dies. (Probably. I’ll never count Maul out for Filoni. If he pops up in Resistance I’ll note that it tracks.)

That was the last episode of Rebels that I watched. And there was plenty this season that I didn’t have much memory of. Kallus taking over as Fulcrum is cool, and Sabine taking her place in Mandalorian politics, while wielding the dark saber is also neat. Hera coming to terms with her father.

But for the most part, I prefer season 2. Ezra’s growing up is a relief and his excised angst makes him more watchable but also a lot less distinct. His competence is cool but without that edge he just becomes Luke, with different hair. We already have Luke, a different take on the Jedi trainee would have been welcome.

Maybe that’s why the fandom latched on to Ahsoka. She’s different, she’s new.

Or maybe I’m projecting. I don’t know. I’m enjoying watching the show, and it’s doing what I want for this project, which is get me excited to watch and think about Star Wars again. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I’d lost my enthusiasm for this world and that made me sad. With The Skywalker saga ending I wanted to at least be excited.

And I am excited about Star Wars again. And Clone Wars and Rebels helped get me there. (Though it was mostly Solo if I’m honest.) Anyway, next week, we’ll talk Season 4, which I have not watched any of. (I don’t think.) Hopefully the show pulls off a cool ending.

My girls have a way of getting into mischief

To say that Little Women has had an impact on my life is a deep deep understatement.

Louisa May Alcott’s novel of sisterhood didn’t just influence me, it got into my insides when I was seven years old and I grew up around it, twisting my voice and personality to it. I’m a writer because of Jo March, I know I can always come home despite my differences from my family because of Amy March, I desire deep profound love because of Meg March and I cherish innocence because of Beth March.

I’m not alone in this. Most women I know have their own profound connection to Little Women. Maybe because it was a story about girls that didn’t privilege romance (though it’s there), maybe because it’s always been there, I don’t know, but it’s a special story.

Watching nearly every woman I follow on social media lose their minds in the last few days over the Little Women trailer has been an incredible blessing. Also, after Ladybird, I’d trust Greta Gerwig to tell any story that resonates with me, since she told a story so close to mine so well.

I’m infatuated with the cast as well. Saorise Ronan has made the world better for Irish named lasses everywhere, and for a change we’re getting a competent Amy. (Well, Kirsten Dunst was great but whover played grown up Amy SUCKED HARD) and I think Meg will be a great change of pace of Emma Watson, and Thimotee Chalamet is FINALLY what I’ve always wanted from Laurie. (Most adaptations lean into his dreamy side, totally forgetting that he’s kinda a weird dork.) (Not to say Chalamet isn’t dreamy, but he’s also a weird dork, not something you could say about say, Christian Bale.)

Mostly, I’m just really really psyched. And once I finish my 60 books, I plan to pick it up again. (Soon ish! My current TBR takes me to 51 and I’m travelling over Labor day weekend.) I haven’t read Alcott in a while, so I’m looking forward to it here.

 

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 2

Ahsoka’s great right? Like she’s really great. I feel like I could write this whole essay about her. (Except I already wrote that essay back the first time I watched this season.)  

So instead we’re going to focus on something else this season.

We’re going to focus on Kanan Jarrus: Mediocre Jedi Knight.

Kanan’s a pretty shitty Jedi. But he’s a great character. Freddie Prinze Jr. does excellent work too. But Kanan is a different kind of character for Star Wars which is after all, the joy of both Clone Wars and Rebels, and, at least on paper the Story series, exploring different corners of that galaxy, far far away. Kanan isn’t a hero. He’s not a great warrior like Anakin. Or the best teacher ever like Obi-Wan. Or a wise sage like Yoda. He’s not the savior like Luke. Or power awaking anew like Rey. He’s just, a guy, who got lucky one time, and has been surviving on his wits since then.

He’s got his issues, (guilt mostly) but he’s in love, he’s doing his best to make the galaxy a better place, and he doesn’t really think he has what it takes to whip this kid into shape but he’s giving it his all anyway.

You wanna know who else comes back this season? (Besides Ahsoka? And again, she’s great.) Rex. Rex is great too. Kanan doesn’t care for him. (The thing about seeing everyone you care about getting murdered, it does a number on you and when a guy with the same face as the murderers shows up, you might not love having him around.) Ezra likes him though. Ezra is still super annoying. I forgot about the internet calling him Space Aladdin, but he is that. Also, back? Darth Maul. Dave Filoni loves bringing back Darth Maul so much he wants to take the concept out behind the middle school and get it pregnant, but he’s good here too, since his appearance at a Sith Temple eventually leads to that most devestating of showdowns. (That had me sitting on my couch rocking back and forth with tear streaming down my cheeks.)

That brings us to our villains! Hooray! Kallus is still around and still kind of a shit. But mostly this season is centered around The Seventh Sister, a new inquisitors who answers directly to Vader, who is also around. The Seventh Sister is eery and bad ass and, BEST OF ALL, voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Listening to Sarah and Freddie fight/flirt is super cute and also, there’s the whole Buffy factor adding to her badassery. And Vader being more directly involved so that he can kill Ahsoka is a necessity.

The moment where Ahsoka shouts, “I am no Jedi,” and declares her refusal to leave Anakin behind again is stunning. Ashley Eckstein is really wonderful. And knowing Ashley a little bit, I’m even more impressed by latter day Ahsoka, as she’s so straightforward and badass and Ashley is so giggly and bubbly and huggy. (Seriously I’ve met the woman four times and she always greets me with a “Reenie! IT’S SO NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN! OMG YOU LOOK GREAT! HOW ARE YOU?” and a giant hug. She’s amazing. I would follow her into battle.)

Next week we’ll deal with season 3, which will be fun, because I remember watching a few episodes, but little about them.

60 Books in 2019: The Party Of The Century: The Fabulous Story Of Truman Capote And His Black And White Ball By Deborah Davis

After immersing himself in the darkness of the human soul while writing In Cold Blood, Truman Capote decided to do the opposite and immerse himself in luxury in glitter by throwing the most lavish party ever.

Deborah Davis chronicles from inception to aftermath the night of glamour that was Truman Capote’s black and white masquerade ball, held in the grand ballroom of The Plaza Hotel.

Davis’s book is detailed, interesting and does it’s best in it’s short pages to give context to Capote’s mania about the party, dealing as everything about Capote does, with his relationship to his mother, his outsider/insider status and his keen observation of the human condition.

But mostly, the book is gossip, about the “swans,” Truman’s rich lady friends and their marriages. About Capote himself and his motives for throwing the party. It’s also something of a time capsule, and wholly appropriate reading as Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood swims around in my brain, as it deals with a similar idea, the end of one era and the birth of the other and the way those two moment have to coincide in a melancholic burst of light.

The book is fun and dishy and interesting. It also reminded me that I really need to read more Capote, as I’ve only really read Breakfast At Tiffany’s. (Other Voices, Other Rooms seems particularly up my alley!) And the way the voices carry.

Up next is Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck. I enjoyed The Paris Wife, so I’ll probably like this too. I’m not crazy about Hemingway’s writing but I am fascinated by the man and those around him.