• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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How Can You Just Leave Me Standing?

I want to thank everyone again for making one of the most superb reading lists I’ve studied in a long time. I’m choosing Intrusions by Ursula Hegi.  I loved her book Stones From the River, and I always like to read books about how writers suffer. In fact, I have quite a library in the genre and had never heard of it. So, thank you.

RUnners up: Room by Emma Donaghue. I’m always interested in books about extremely dark issues that become bestsellers, the received wisdom that dark books don’t sell. The Library of Shadows sounds deliciously scary. Crossing to Safety is one of those book I feel I SHOULD read. Why can’t I want to? NIPPLE ALERT on The Chronology of Water. Whoa. Too much nipple for me and it’s the kind of title that might sound good at first glance, but then….On The Beach by Nevil Shute has always been in the back of my mind. I read Middlemarch. Fair and Square. Wishful Drinking is a great fucking title. And I’ve always meant to read A Fine Balance (another great title).

But my favorite new title is Joseph Anton. This was Rushdie’s humble name for himself when he was in hiding. THe Joseph comes from Joseph Conrad and the Anton from Anton Chekhov. While I’m away next week, please add as many of your own pseudonyms using the “Rushdie Method” as you can manage. Mine, of course, is  J.D. Sylvia

p.s. will the Hegi recommender send me his or her snail mail address to askbetsylerner@gmail.com to collect your THREE books!!

p.s.s. the best “Rushdie Method” name gets a signed copy of FFTT and a photograph (a mystery photograph)

p.s.s.s. have a great week. I’ll miss you. Back on the 8th. Miss you already.

64 Responses

  1. The Chronology of Water is fucking brilliant. Channel your inner Wendy O. Williams and put a piece of electrical tape on it if it’s bumming you out. Totally endorse it.

  2. U. Hegi’s “The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done” was a punch in the gut for me. I’d never heard of her.

    • I just finished “The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done” and it is the worst thing Hegi has ever written. It’s no comparison to her earlier work.

      • I can’t judge her skills. Never read her before or heard of her. Perhaps I related on a personal level.

      • The story line itself is great, that’s what drew me into it besides having read her before. But her writing didn’t seem up to par with her usual is what I felt. And I feel she really forced her political opinions in there…they weren’t really part of the story and didn’t even seem to define the characters to me.

        It is interesting to wonder how I would like a book if I had not read the author previously.

      • But, when all is said and done, I think the personal connection is what matters most. People can say all they want about how badly a book falls short – in any which way. But, if I made a personal connection to that book, that’s all that matters. That is the point of writing.

      • Crap…just purchased this one…too bad I didn’t read all these follow up comments. Maybe I’ll like it.

      • Hey, you’ve gotta read bad books to know which ones are good, right? That’s why I read everything I start…how can I claim a career and interest in the literary world if I only read one side?! But that’s just me. You might like it – the storyline is good.

      • Yes, I might like it. Book reviews are like movie reviews anyway, some will like the material, others not. It just came today – and I’ve got it on my “stack” of unreads – at the top.

        Wish I had more time to read – I seem to only have time at night, then I can barely keep my eyes open.

  3. What’s up with the p.s.s.? It’s post post script, I believe.

  4. Rushdie method pseudonym:
    Fyodor Calvino

  5. I stole my name from a guy that lives a few headstones over from my dad. He died on my birthday so I figured he wouldn’t mind. as luck (or is it irony?) would have it, i found out months later that Josef Fritzl was an austrian man who kept his daughter locked in his basement to commit horrendous acts of incest against her. (this i learned from the chronology of water author, l. yuknavitch, in one of her Sun essays early this year–again, luck or irony?)

  6. Travel well, Betsy. We’ll keep the party going as best we can.

  7. Rest on dreams which have nothing to do with what you write but with what you read, in life and on pages.
    Have a wonderful vacation.

  8. Call me Gordon Ernest.

  9. Hate like hell that you’re leaving. It must be amazing to be you. HAVE A VON-DER-FULL time!

  10. I agree. Stones from the River was one of the best stories ever. Trudi Montag was a seriously unforgetable character. Now I wonder how Ms. Hegi came up with the name.

    I’m glad you’re going to read ROOM. The angle is mad powerful..

    I’d be Inge Maier or Vivian Morath

  11. Ponsot Cooper.

    It’s difficult being a poet.

  12. I am, Kathryn Billie Sara Kidd Gruen McLarty.

    No one can figure out where to shelve me.

  13. Virginia Flannery here watching the peacocks walk to the river.

  14. I would be Stevie K. Oates, mistress of the dark.

  15. Eliza Anthony
    no, wait, Jane George
    no, wait, Kate Allegra
    no, wait Nick Henry.

    I’m done. For now. I have to go read a book.

  16. Irving Atwood Morrison at your service (sounds a bit like a law firm). My hand towels say IAM. But you can call me Irv. Safe & happy travels.

  17. Winston Truman. (oh to imagine those 2 at the same dinner table)

  18. Alice Shields.

  19. Smith Holiday. Perhaps I’ve scribbled outside the lines, Holiday is Billie Holiday but if I could write like she sings…

  20. Dorothy McCourt, or… Kaye Monk Kidd, or…. This was too hard for Friday! I have many favorites.

    • just re-read your instructions…as many as we can manage …

      Robert Frazier (Robert Morgan/Charles Frazier)
      Wally Bragg (Wally Lamb/Rick Bragg)
      Jeannette Hoffman (Jeanette Walls/Alice Hoffman
      Kathryn Flock (Kathryn Stockett/Elizabeth Flock)

  21. Aldous Anais.
    We will miss you – have fun!!

  22. Junot Oates.
    D.M. Bellow.
    Proulx Knowles.

  23. Thank you Betsy! Hope you enjoy “Intrusions”! Hegi was one of my first discoveries when I first become a serious reader.

    And if you want something to absolutely haunt you, read “A Stolen Life” by Jaycee Dugard after “Room.”

  24. Oh wait, can we use last names?

  25. Cormac McCourt. Why? ‘Tis nothing more beautiful or haunting than the ashes of all the pretty horses.

  26. Marcel Wolff, please.

  27. oops. If only first names. Virginia Marcel.

  28. Re-do!

    Dorothy Frank
    Sue Kaye
    Robert Charles
    Rick Wally
    Alice Jeanette
    Elizabeth Marlys

  29. Sorry I am late to the party, but please read “Mountains of the Moon” by I.J. Kay. Puts all those recently hailed (and in my opinion mostly underwhelming) American novels to shame.

  30. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve now ordered three more books to add to the pile I’ve yet to read…which puts me at something like a fifteen book backlog. But,… I just couldn’t help myself. I’m like the woman addicted to shoes. Oh, wait, Yeah, I do that too. Anyway, I ordered Chronology of Water, and two by Ursula Hegi – I have read Stones From A River and I remember how much I loved it, so I had to check back in with Ms. Ursula and I got Intrusions as well as The Worst Thing I’ve Done.

    • I know! These kinds of posts always do me in! I have a whole bookshelf of back logged reading now. I have a very bad habit of buying more books when I still have plenty unread at home. One day I will go through and count how many of my books I’ve read…it’s at least half I hope!

      • Me too…, in some ways I wish I had kept up with what I’ve read my entire life – it’s got to be much like keeping track of miles run – after decades – it might be impressive! Somehow I always feel like I’m missing out on something when I see folks on this site listing books and next thing I know, there I am, out on Amazon – AGAIN!

      • I went through my bookshelves recently and counted how many on there I haven’t read. When I hit 100, I knew I had a problem. But I know they’re all good and deserve to be read, so I keep them all until I’ve read them — and then I decide if they stay or go. But over 100, jeeze Louise.

      • I have a list of what I’ve read since I was about 12. Those early teen years I read a lot of those series for teens, but I started keeping track more precisely my Senior year of high school. According to Goodreads I have 864 or so books I’ve read since I was 12. I’m 33 now, so I don’t know how that ranks on any scale…but I know I haven’t read half the books I currently own! So I am with you on the over 100 problem Mary Lynne!

  31. Fyodor Haruki

  32. Ken WilliamS. Capital S is intentional and the book will be high on every shelf.
    Jay Hunter. Bright lights, big loathing.

  33. Wallace Ivan
    or Ivan Richard
    or Edith Michael

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