Summer Reading

I like to take a stack of books (anymore, a fully-charged Kindle) off to the beach and bake in the sun and catch up on everything I meant to read during the year. Haven’t had time to do that this year, so I’ve been fitting a few titles in around the edges. Here are three worth noting:

Screen-Shot-2014-04-08-at-8.19.09-AMMcClain, in case you haven’t paid any attention to daytime dramas over the last two decades or so, is an Emmy-winning actress best known for her turns as Dixie Cooney Martin on All My Children and as Rosanna Cabot on As The World Turns. She can currently be seen as Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.

I’ve always liked her as a performer and I thought I’d pick this up because a generic soap star bio would occupy my brain and not require me to think too much. If that is something that you want, don’t read this book.

McClain tells an unvarnished tale of abuse, terrible parenting, getting over it, accepting what she can’t change and moving on. It’s often a harrowing tale, but it’s so well-written you have to check yourself to make sure you’re still reading someone’s memoir and not a Stephen King novel. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, McClain makes you laugh out loud. Sometimes the hilarious parts are downright uncomfortable for the reader and yet, you can’t help yourself.

This is a terrific, gripping read. It is NOT AT ALL what I expected it was, but it’s miles better. You should absolutely check it out.

princeAfter McClain’s memoir, I needed some light reading, so I turned to the latest alternative kid lit, an adorable tale of two princes who go off in search of the kidnapped princess and end up falling in love with each other.

It’s a great little book and J.L. Phillips’ illustrations are terrific. It hews very closely to the classic white knight-saves-damsel-in-distress trope except for the fact that the white knights like each other. Diversity-minded parents will find this a good story and little boys will like it because there’s no kissing or other, you know, icky junk! (And if your little boys are so inclined, the princes are cute as can be!)

20624305This is the third installment of Klune’s “Bear, Otter and the Kid” chronicles — or BOATK3, if you are in the know — and if you are into these books, you already love it, so my review is meaningless. And yet….

I resisted the original BOATK because I didn’t believe the hype and I was quite unconvinced that the debut work of an untested young novelist could be THAT good. Well, I was wrong. It was that good. It made me laugh until I cried and it made me straight up cry. It remains on my all-time greatest hits list.

I loved BOATK2 and eagerly awaited the release of The Art of Breathing. This one features an almost-grown-up Kid predominately and it has a bit of a different rhythm than the previous installments. Klune is verbose (like Bear) and sometimes I think he would be well-served with a serious editor. Still, it’s a damn good book and it comes highly recommended — with the caveat that you must read the first two installments first. I am sure there will be a BOATK4. You’ll think so, too, when you get to the end of this one!

NOTE: Click on any of the cover images to take you to their Amazon page to purchase.

Bret Easton Ellis and the Magical Gay Elves

The rush to embrace and console every gay man who comes out is infantilizing and condescending—but it’s a script written and promoted by GLAAD and reinforced by a sanctimonious establishment of gay men that rewards those who play by the rules—and punishes those who don’t. Novelist Bret Easton Ellis on why he refuses to take his bitch-slapping lying down.

via In the Reign of the Gay Magical Elves | Out Magazine.

Oh, Bret Easton Ellis, you insane, snarky old bastard. I actually agree with you on a lot of this, but as one gay man to another, can I also inform you that there is an enormous swath of the American public that needs to be nudged along a little softly. At least right now. Yes, it makes my eyes roll sometimes, too, but dial back the rhetoric just a bit — just a bit — and let’s let the rest of the country catch up.

And for the record, I vehemently disagree with you about Matt Bomer. He’s an actor. It shouldn’t matter that he’s gay playing straight any more than a straight actor playing gay. Get over yourself just a touch.

Marlo Thomas: Free to Be… You and Me — Forty Years Later

Marlo Thomas: Free to Be… You and Me — Forty Years Later.

Forty years ago this month, a group of my friends and I released “Free to Be… You and Me,” a children’s record created to expel the gender and racial stereotypes of the era, while rewriting all those pat “happily ever afters” that dominated the fairy tales of our youth. Our mission was simple: to convince children that their dreams were not only boundless, but achievable.

Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas and friends in “Free to Be… You and Me.” Isn’t it time we remade this?

Saw this article by Marlo Thomas on HuffPo and immediately sent it to a friend. My friend is always banging on about this music and TV special. She has a seven year-old daughter and as “Free to Be…” was a seminal part of her own youth in the 70s, she wants her daughter to find the empowerment that she felt she found in “Free to Be… .”

We both think it’s way past time that someone remade this, include new ideas like same-sex parents, multi-racial normalcy, bullying, childhood suicide and depression and so much more. This stuff is too important to be sluffed off as a period piece.

Who should we get to spearhead this? My friend and I think Ellen is the right choice. Let’s get on that.

Bridget Jones to Return in New Helen Fielding Novel – GalleyCat

Bridget Jones to Return in New Helen Fielding Novel – GalleyCat.

I’m not a 30-something woman, but I’m kinda geeked by this. I loved the first two Bridget Jones books. The films weren’t bad either, but the books were terrific. I bought the second one in an airport bookstall at Heathrow on a U.S. bound flight the day it came out in the U.K. and read it all the way across the pond!

Hey, at least it wasn’t Twilight!