April 19, 2005

Shannon Olson is My New Best Friend

I have a love-hate relationship with chick lit. Maybe I'm a snob, but I feel myself instinctively wanting to look down on the genre, and I usually avoid it, only opening those books that have been highly recommended, again and again, ad nauseum. This week I did pick up such a book (which shall remain nameless). Everyone in my book group raved about it, the reviews on Amazon were all good, it could not have been recommended highly enough and was always checked out of the library - but I had to put it down after 10 pages. Too many Quirky Characters. I get so bugged by aggressively whimsical characters - characters with too many eccentricities (most often found in stories which take place in the South) who are probably supposed to be seen as "kooky" or "offbeat," but who are in truth just unrealistic and annoying. And when 6 or 7 of them are described in detail in the first few pages, that's it. I have no patience. So that book has already gone back to the library.

But now and then when I do pick up a decidedly well-written book that just happens to be about a 30-something single woman with a nowhere job and conflicts with her parents and/or boyfriend, I can't help but give in a little and love the chick lit, because everyone likes reading about people they can relate to once in a while.

But only if it's well-written. And funny.

The two books I read last week were both of those things: Welcome to My Planet : Where English Is Sometimes Spoken and Children of God Go Bowling, both by Shannon Olson. As one friend said of Welcome to My Planet, "I was amen-ing her by page 2." Our heroine - who is actually named Shannon Olson - is smart and funny and stuck in complicated relationships with her mother and boyfriend(s), which we learn about through both her personal musings and funny and sad conversations with a counselor. I know that makes the books sound a lot like all the others, but Shannon's voice is fresh, and consistent, and her life felt truly so familiar to me (down to the days and times of her appointments with her therapist), that I just couldn't get enough, and had to run out and buy the second book, Children of God Go Bowling. The second book is more of the same, but also a little more serious. Dark and light. Funny and heartbreaking. I highly recommend taking a look at Shannon Olson, if you're inclined to enjoy girly books at all. Her books really were such a treat on a sunny, lazy weekend.

I don’t want to be someone who always feels bitter, cheated, deprived. I don’t want to live with someone who is always disappointing me. I would rather live alone. I would rather move to the country and raise goats. The goats would have each other, and they’d nibble happily on the lawn. I’d have fresh goat cheese, and these indifferent companions from whom I’d expect only a little sustenance and some lawn care. Which is maybe all most people expect from marriage. I just always thought there would be more.

And so there you have books #14 and 15. I had a busy week last week and stalled a bit on my reading, but I have a few plane trips coming up in the next month or so, and am looking forward to getting some good solid book time in, with no distractions. Right now I am in the middle of No Lifeguard On Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel - the autobiography of the fabulous and insane Janice Dickinson. It is not particularly well-written, but she makes me laugh, she makes me cry, and there is abundant use of the F word. What more do you want out of your literature, really?


Rebecca said...

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is just about my favourite romance author EV-VAR!

*ahem* I highly recommend her stuff :)

lizfisher said...

I just ordered one of the Shannon Olson books to take with me on vacation - can't wait!!

Ms Draggletail said...

Susan Elizabeth Phillips - thanks for the rec! I'll check it out.