That Jeffrey Eugenides is One Wacky Guy

Sunday, November 23rd, 2003 • 4 Comments

So, Jae and I met this morning to discuss Virgin Suicides.  We had to do our book discussion at the unfortunate hour of 10 a.m. because I am too much of a social butterfly.  The only time I could fit him into my weekend schedule was before work (and next week is Thanksgiving-and-Sheri week, so that was out).  I do not do my best thinking in the morning, so I’m sure I forgot to make some key points.  There were bagels and cream cheese and yummy Starbucks coffee with chocolate creamer to fortify us and a great discussion of the book which segued into a discussion about how society handles tragedy.

The consensus was that

Virgin Suicides

is a good book with some very confusing and unexplained (and unexplainable?) messages.  Jae made some good points that I hadn’t considered, especially about how men need to “fix” things and are intrigued by a woman’s mysterious qualities (whether those mysterious qualities are real or imagined).  Eugenides has an interesting writing style and a way of throwing out off-the-cuff comments that stick with you (“the two year-old Catholic mistake” is still my favorite).  This is a book filled with sexual and religious undertones, suburban decay and familial rot, wasted youth and numbing adulthood.  Now I’m really interested in reading Middlesex.

There’s no doubt that Jeffrey Eugenides is a talented writer (a Pulitzer prize-winning writer, at that), but there is a certain smugness about his writing, as if he’s just a little too impressed with his own cleverness, that gets on my nerves.  It’s a minor sticking point and hopefully one he outgrows in


.  I’d also have to say he has a twisted little imagination.  Makes me wonder what he’s doing when nobody is watching.  Then again, maybe that’s the point of the book.

Posted by Kristina in Writing

Away in a manger… baby Jesus got eaten by a lion

Wednesday, November 19th, 2003 • 2 Comments

Speaking of Christmas, and what else would we be speaking about at this time of the year?, why is it so damn hard to find a nativity scene that’s right?  I mean, c’mon people, we’re talking tradition here.  The old-fashioned, Christian based tradition of the nativity.  Why is that so complicated??

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about a nativity scene that includes all the principles and isn’t made out of plastic, fabric or cork.  I’m talking about Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus with faces (not faceless art deco blown glass in pastel colors).  I’m talking about the three wise men (


camels) and Gloria, the angel.  I’m talking about a stable that looks like a stable and not a shoebox, a trailer or a Barbie Dream House.  I’m talking about animals that belong in a nativity: cows, oxen, sheep and donkeys.  Maybe a cat, but certainly not dogs, and definitely not a lion (I kid you not, I’ve seen a nativity with a lion).  It would be preferable if the baby Jesus were removable from the manger for those who wish to observe the tradition of leaving the baby Jesus out of the nativity until Christmas day (I personally don’t care, but it’s a nice touch).  It would be good if Gloria hung from the front of the stable and even better if there were a lightbulb behind her to cast a ethereal glow.

The Fontanini family comes closest to getting right, but then they’ve been doing it for over a hundred years.  They’re expensive, but it’s amazing what I’m willing to pay to have a baby Jesus who looks like a baby and not a Weeble.

I had the right kind of nativity when I was a kid, which is why I’m so picky.  One of my favorite memories is setting up the nativity each year and hanging Gloria just so in front of the lightbulb.  The stable had a straw-like roof, the wise men were appropriately ethnic (never mind that Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were all peculiarly white) and everyone had a happy, reverential expression.  I was slightly disappointed there wasn’t a little drummer boy, not realizing the song was written in 1958 (I just looked that up) and had nothing to do with the original nativity.

Keep your burnished metal nativities, your burlap doll nativities, your papier mache nativities.  Give me an old-fashioned nativity scene and leave the lions, tigers and bears to Sigfried and Roy.

Posted by Kristina in Essays


Wednesday, November 19th, 2003 • No Comments

As I predicted, something had to give and it was NaNoWriMo.  Sigh… it’s still a great idea and I really want to finish this book, but it’s not going to happen in November.  Too much on my plate this month, most of it self-inflicted.  I’m annoyed with myself for not completing this challenge, it’s not like me to start something and not finish it.  At least, not something I want

to do.  I think I may take two weeks in January and finish the book, just to have it completed.  I’ll call it KriNoWriMo.  I still want one of those nifty NaNoWriMo T-shirts, though.

Meanwhile, the to-do list keeps growing as November slips away.  Some of it simply won’t get done and that’s a fact I need to accept.  I really don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself at this time of the year.  It’s not like anyone else is going to notice if my cabinets are organized or be impressed that I’ve baked every cookie from scratch.  I mean, really, who cares?  The answer to that, of course, is: I care.  I care about the details and the traditions and, yes, the rituals.  I care about making people happy and cooking good food and decorating and card writing and thoughtful gift buying.  I care because it matters and it’s important, regardless of how much I complain.  And, believe me, I will complain.

Posted by Kristina in Musings

Writer Chick. Mother Hen.

Author, anthologist, mother, wife, dreamer, storyteller, coffee drinker. I blog here sporadically, when I'm not writing, editing anthologies for Cleis Press or messing around on Facebook. Welcome! Want to know more?


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