Alright, Book That I Have No Real Strong Feelings About, let’s see what I can find to say about you. You were…um…informative. I certainly learned a lot about detective fiction (a previous dark spot on my otherwise extensive literary education). You said a bunch of things about Little Women that I was able to repeat in my Children’s Lit class last week and come off sounding really intelligent. You have this great picture on the cover of what I assume is a mannequin, because she is buried under a tower of thirty-one(ish) books, and that’d stop your breathing if you had lungs.
Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading – Maureen Corrigan
Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading is a memoir, which I sort of didn’t know going into it. I’m not sure that would have clarified much, because Corrigan didn’t follow the usual chronological my-woeful-childhood/my-angstful-teens/my-hilariously-dysfunctional-young-adulthood/my-wisdom-of-age formula. Instead, she sort of talked about books, and tied them in with key points in her life (which means we get to read about the adoption of her Chinese daughter after years of infertility dozens of times, which *squeeeeeeeeeeee!* Chinese baby girls! But also, dozens of times).
And I guess there’s method to the madness, because there’s an introduction, and then a chapter on the female extreme-adventure, and then a…sub-chapter? It’s in the table of contents, but it sort of stands alone as a disconnected bit of nothing. H’anyvays, then there’s a chapter on detective fiction, and another on romance in literature, and then another bizarro non-sequitur sub-chapter, and then one on Catholic martyrdom. So…totally sensical after all.
And the first bit of the book is quite entertaining, as Corrigan talks about the differences between men-protagonists’ and women-protagonists’ type of adventures in literature, and goes on a bit about her own life (at this stage of the book, her stories haven’t worn thin with too many tellings). And even though she feels the need to explain her literary references (which, come on, anyone who’s reading a book with this title is going to get at least half of them), which takes out some of the zip, I’ve forgiven books for much worse. And even though she used the phrase ‘hard-boiled’ (referring to fiction, not eggs) an average of twice per page for the entire middle third of the book, really, what else are you going to call that kind of detective work?
It was during the final two chapters that I found myself sort of skimming. Not because it wasn’t interesting (Catholic martyrs are always interesting, and Corrigan refers to the Catholic tradition of self-abnegation on the path to glory rather hilariously as ‘writhe and shine’), but because I was getting tired of hanging out with her. It was like being with someone who only talks about themselves, and dude, I know that it is a book and I CAN’T TALK BACK TO HER, but you know what I mean? I get the sense that if I were Maureen Corrigan, that I would have loved this book. By which I mean, if I’d grown up Catholic and were really into detective fiction and had adopted a Chinese baby girl etc etc etc, in short, if I shared her experiences in EVERY way, this book would have been awesome.
As is, it was mostly good, and thanks to the FABulous lady Di for mailing it all the way up to Canada for me. I got some good book recommendations out of it, at least.