Fizzy Thoughts

Foreign Correspondence

with 9 comments

foreign correspondence
Foreign Correspondence
Geraldine Brooks
240 pages

Overview filched from B&N:

Born on Bland Street in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longs to discover the vivid places where history happens and culture comes from. She enlists pen pals who offer her a window on the hazards of adolescence in the Middle East, Europe, and America. With the aid of their letters, Brooks turns her bedroom into the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the barricades of Parisian student protests, the swampy fields of an embattled kibbutz. Twenty years later – and worlds away from her sheltered girlhood – Brooks is an award-winning foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, reporting on wars and famines in the Middle East, Bosnia, and Africa. But she never forgets her earlier foreign correspondence. Traveling full circle to attend her dying father, Brooks stumbles on the old letters in her parents’ basement. She embarks on a human treasure hunt to find her pen friends, and to retrieve her own lost memories of the shy Sydney girl who wrote to them. One by one, she finds men and women whose lives have been shaped by war and hatred, by fame and notoriety, and by the ravages of a mysterious and tragic mental illness. It is only from the distance of foreign lands and against the background of alien lives that Brooks finally sees her homeplace clearly. This intimate, moving, and often humorous memoir of growing up Down Under speaks to the unquiet heart of every girl who has ever yearned to become a woman of the world.

Did you know that Geraldine Brooks was Australian? Me, either! Also…did you know she was married to Tony Horwitz? Again…me, either!

And obviously, there is way more to the book than that (in fact, Tony only appears briefly at the end…I only mention it because having read both authors I just didn’t put them together). This is both a memoir of an Australian childhood with a mysterious father, and an investigation of “whatever happened to those childhood pen pals?”

I remain a fan.

Written by softdrink

March 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

Posted in bookish thoughts

Tiny Thoughts on The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 2

with 8 comments

tiny stories 2

Not as good as the first one. Although this first one got my hopes up:

tiny stories story 1

I found the bulk of the stories to be all emo drama (is that redundant?).

Written by softdrink

March 12, 2013 at 6:00 am

Posted in bookish thoughts

The Principles of Uncertainty

with 13 comments

principles of uncertainty

The Principles of Uncertainty
Maira Kalman
336 illustrated pages

I wish I could draw. I also wish I could just drop everything and gallivant off to Paris on a whim. You know, call up my (non-existent) sister and say, “Hey, let’s go to Paris!”

And okay, I also wish I wasn’t so envious, because maybe if I wasn’t (so envious) then I would’ve liked this book a bit more.

Jealousy can be an ugly thing.

To be honest, though, this is usually the kind of book that I love. Pictures, travel, journally thoughts. And filled with off-the-wall facts that I never knew. But it just didn’t resonate with me…I found the author to be a bit weird (and hey, I LIKE weird) and pack-ratty, and disjointed (pot, meet kettle), and kind of name droppy in a way that really isn’t dropping names.

Maybe I should’ve gone with the George Washington book* instead?

Also…I read this in January, which was filled with some pretty kick-ass books. It might be suffering from a bad case of comparison to those other books that I adored with all of my heart.

*And The Pursuit of Happiness…thank you google.

Written by softdrink

March 11, 2013 at 9:27 am

Posted in bookish thoughts

The End of the Affair

with 23 comments

end of the affair

The End of the Affair
Graham Greene
Narrated by Colin Firth
6 hours and 28 of the longest minutes of my life
first published in 1951

For such a short book (audio, actually), this one was agonizingly long. So long, in fact, that it took me about 5 months to listen to the whole thing.

Major spoilerly bits ahead…

Maurice is a writer. And he embarks on an affair with Sarah. Who is married. And then a bomb drops (literally…it’s WWII and they’re in London) and suddenly Sarah calls it quits. So Maurice mopes and whines and then gets jealous and hires a PI (or whatever) who steals Sarah’s journal and he finds out that she made a deal with God (who she maybe doesn’t even believe in?) that if they survived the bomb she’d be good and end the affair which she did. So then Maurice (which is Morris, not More-eese, like in the song (you know the one? some people call me a space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love?)) hunts Sarah down and tries to convince her to (finally) ditch her hubbie and run off and he has almost maybe succeeded when whammo…she dies. So then he mopes some more and whines some more about love and possession and how he doesn’t feel sorry for her husband because Sarah really loved him (Maurice-Morris him, that is) so nanny nanny boo boo and then they move in together (Maurice and the hubbie who is now a widower…for reals, they really do move in together) and they have philosophical discussions over whether Sarah was a Catholic or not.

I kid you not, this is what the book is about. And it is horribly long and whiney (just like this post!) and depressing as hell and I was ready to shoot Maurice by the end because not even the voice of Colin Firth made him worth the agony of listening to a jealous, possessive, self-absorbed nincompoop bemoan the end of an affair and a woman that wasn’t even likable.


Written by softdrink

March 8, 2013 at 6:00 am

Books! Roller coasters! Data! Oh my!

with 16 comments

Today’s post comes to you live from Knott’s Berry Farm!

Okay, not really. But I am across the street.

Okay fine…across the street and up (or is it down?) the block. But I swear to you I can see roller coasters from the front of the hotel! And I could go say hi to Snoopy if I wanted to. So there.

Why am I hanging out at across the street and down (or is it up?) the block from Knott’s Berry Farm, you ask? Because I am attending a Data Analysis Training! I know, I know…you’re all so jealous of the good times I get to have.

But. I did console myself with a whirlwind visit to Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara on the drive down yesterday. Chaucer’s Books is conveniently located at the halfway point AND they have a public restroom (these things are important when you’re on a four hour drive), so really…how could I not stop?

And how could I not buy books?? I wasn’t even there for 30 minutes, and I bought 6 books. Unfortunately, I haven’t started any of them, since I was a good grandchild and visited my (95-year old) Granny when I got down here last night.

There’s nothing like multi-tasking while on a business trip.

And in case you were wondering:

photo (11)Whoops…forgot to rotate the picture. Oh well. Consider it your challenge for today. šŸ˜‰

Written by softdrink

March 5, 2013 at 6:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized


with 11 comments


Caitlin Moran
234 pages

“Words can be weapons, or love-spells, or just motorcars you can drive across country borders.” Caitlyn Moran, Moranthology

Warning: this post contains more love for Moran.

I bought Moranthology almost the very second after I finished listening to How to Be a Woman because Moran says oodles of things that I wish I’d thought of. And while I’m not nearly as into music as she is (a fact supported by my abysmal performance on the SongPop app), I forgive her because she’s still both hysterically funny and insightful even when I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about.

Moranthology is a collection of some of her columns from The Times (and most likely published because How to Be a Woman was wildly successful, but if my first book was a runaway success and I had oodles of columns to re-publish you can damn will bet I’d’ve done the same thing). If you’ve already read How to Be a Woman, some of it is a bit of a repeat, but most is not. Mostly it’s more brilliant social commentary from Moran, mixed in with lots of irreverence. Well, brilliant if you’re a liberal pop-culture loving woman with feminist leanings. Not that others can’t or won’t enjoy. I’m just guessing that those of us who will love it the most areĀ liberal pop-culture loving women. With potty mouths.

Ironically, some of my favorite essays were on topics that I’m totally unfamiliar with.* There was funny one on her interview with Keith Richards (done at the time that his book came out) that made me want to run out and buy his book. And the talk of Dr. Who made me wish I’d seen all the episodes. Ditto for Downton Abbey. And Sherlock Holmes. Not that I can’t buy/rent them now, but if I can’t even be bothered to rent The Shining, do you really think an entire tv show is gonna happen?

Anyhoosie, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m at the point where I’ll read anything Moran writes. She just needs to hurry up and write another book. Please??

*To clarify: I know who Keith Richards is. I’m not THAT oblivious to music. I just haven’t read his book. And I didn’t want to until I read this one.

Written by softdrink

March 4, 2013 at 6:00 am

Posted in bookish thoughts

#marchon —> #marmeeon

with 14 comments

So it’s only Day 2 of the readalong formerly known as the #marchon. And two things:

1. I still haven’t started the book. Although OTHER PEOPLE (Ali) have finished. Overachiever.

2. We will now be tweeting using the #marmeeon hashtag. Because certain other pople (not Ali) seem to think that March is all about basketball and they have already claimed #marchon for their nefarious purposes. And since I spent last month trying to separate out our #shineon tweets from god-only-knows-what-those-other-people-were-yammering-on-about, we decided to change our name. To the #marmeeon, because hello…who doesn’t love Marmee? And also, I’m pretty sure no one else will be hijacking that to talk about basketball or moonshine or whatever.

Oh wait. A third thing:

Penguin Threads Little Women coverThis is the version that Vasilly is reading and I. AM. SO. JEALOUS. Isn’t it purty?


Written by softdrink

March 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm