This morning I looked at the Excel file where I track my literary submissions, and let me tell you, there’s nothing like a highly organized document to let you know in no uncertain terms exactly how unproductive you’ve been. Six submissions in the entire year of 2011! Since my unofficial 2012 motto is “Be less lazy and crazy” (my official motto is “What would Tina Fey do?”), I am particularly proud of myself for meeting the postmark deadline for this summer’s RADAR Lab, in which a bunch of queer people shack up in Mexico for two weeks and write together. That’s practically a novel itself. It will be called Vamos a la Playa, Jotos.
Anyway, here’s what I read in December, back when I was still being a little lazy (and working my way through The Lacuna, which I’m still not done with).
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling: Mindy Kaling name-checks Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler's books in a self-deprecating way. For the record, Kaling's is much funnier and sweeter than Handler's, but not the work of deceptively simple genius that is Fey's. (But no worries, she's got a few years to catch up.) It's a little slight--as you might imagine a memoir by a 32-year-old who adores her parents would be--but I laughed out loud a lot, in a "that's so TRUE!" way. Here's Kaling on making it in New York: "I had placed a lot of faith in Woody Allen's belief that 80 percent of success is just showing up.... Sure, I can just SHOW UP. Here I am, New York! Give me a job! It turns out the other 20 percent is kind of the difficult, nebulous part." That's so true.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King: This book opens with one of my pet peeves: feminism reduced to a spunky, super-genius heroine who is miraculously ahead of her time (WWI-era England) in every way. This particular spunky heroine befriends Sherlock Holmes and learns his methods, enabling the second part of the book, a series of classic Holmes-style puzzle mysteries. I'm not that into mysteries that are more about steampunk forensics than character motivation, but at least the puzzles were fun. Then there's a random, awkward side trip to Palestine. Then the spunky heroine dukes it out with her arch enemy, who turns out to be (spoiler alert) a woman. They're like the queen bees the title alludes to. Except they don't remotely alter the females-as-enemies dynamic the narrator claims to hate. In all, this is a wildly uneven if kind of engaging book.