Friday, October 30, 2015

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Fangirl --- Baby's got Voice!

Hello, Cephalopod Coffeehouse participants!

This month I read Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. I picked it up at Costco, because I liked the cover:

Costco. Pretty Cover. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, right?

Fangirl is about Cath, a college freshman whose world is out of whack. Her mother walked out on her family a long time ago (on September 11th - the September 11th), her twin sister Wren (Cath, Wren - get it?) wants space and declines to room together and takes up partying at the frat houses instead, her dad is living alone for this first time in years and struggling with depression. Cath is falling for her roommate Reagan's boyfriend Levi. And the fanfic Cath obsessively writes about Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-ish character/series), isn't cutting it as "original" in her Fiction Writing course.

Fangirl is heavy on dialogue. At times, it felt more like I was eavesdropping on the characters than reading about them. The pacing is slow and the book at times seemed to drag -- although this also made the book feel more real. There are also several long passages of Cath's fanfiction that frankly did not interest me.

But ultimately, I kept reading because of Rainbow Rowell's voice. She has a I-want-to-take-it-behind-the-bleachers-and-get-it-pregnant kind of voice.  Fangirl is a story about voice, too. It is about writing and the many different reasons why we write. It is about leaving the comfort of the stories of our childhood and having the courage to write a story of our own. And it has some fun lines about writing, like this one:

“Cath felt like she was swimming in words. Drowning in them, sometimes.”

Or this one:

“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”  

In conclusion, once again Costco came through for me. It always does.

Friday, September 25, 2015


The phone call comes just after 5 on Tuesday afternoon. My sister, who is 38 weeks pregnant, has lost her baby. The news is unbelievable. I was just with my sister, hours earlier, at the salon, both of us sitting side by side under the heater, our hair wrapped in foil. "You two are sitting the exact same way!" the stylist remarked. We had looked at each other and laughed, our crossed legs and folded arms mirror images, our sisterhood affirmed.

I leave my kids with my husband and head for my sister's house. I merge onto the congested freeway and head south.  It is an unbelievably beautiful autumn day. I lurch along, my mind congested with one thought. Questions will come later. Now I am stumped by this fiction masquerading as fact. My sister has lost her baby. It cannot be.

When I reach the point of the mountain, the traffic slows to a dead stop. Ahead, where a bluff breaks the monotony of blue sky,  a dozen or so daring souls are hang-gliding. It is a thing of fantasy, this scene, and I wonder at these colorful sails before me, neither flying or falling, but suspended mid-air.

The traffic picks up and I continue down the road, toward my sister and heartache and unspeakable pain. For a moment I am soothed by the sight of these floating creatures, neither angels or demons, but mere humans propped up by make-shift wings.