Books Are Pretty

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Note to Self.

Christopher and I swung by the post office a couple of weeks ago to check the box. Christopher has taken over this job, of course, because let's face it: an open PO box is pretty cool. You put a big brass key into the lock of a tiny door, and when you open it up, there's a whole 'nother world in there. Sometimes with crabby government employees in it, who respond to your pleadings for mail with, "No! We already put the mail out today! There is no more. Now get your face out the mailbox before I cram my sensible shoe in there and kick you!"

But that day we did have something, a yellow note that said we had a package that was too big for the box, and we had to go see the clerk and pick it up. Our post office has a side door that allows you to bypass all the grubby people sweating it out in line, sort of like having the special pass at Disneyworld, and you can slip around to the dutch door and ring the doorbell and an employee will open the top part of the door and give you your package. Also, very cool.*

We got the package, and this book was in it. I recognized the author as someone whose similarly-covered first book I reviewed in September, and I assumed because of that review I got this one as well, in a "If you loved that, you'll really love this!" kind of way.

I don't know if other people do this, but unsolicited books go straight to the bottom of the pile, and it is an ugly, mountainous pile indeed. I have been running three solid months behind for two years, and there doesn't seem to be a time when I'll get caught up. I'll read the unsolicited ones eventually, but if I've spoken with an author or a publicist about a book, I give it priority. You'll see a review of your unsolicited book in about 10 months. Thanks for sending it!

Inside the book was a green envelope, addressed to "To Whom It May Concern." It was a letter from the author, who told me she sent me the book because she mentioned me in it, on page 103. She had come across the review I wrote of her first book, Love of Letters, and thought it was funny, she said.

Because I'm in it, I don't think I can critique the book honestly, but I sure as hell am willing to critique page 103. And here it is, in all its glory:

I recently found one of the more amusing blogs I've read about myself. It was written a few months ago, but I only just found it because - okay, we're all adults here, I'll say it - I was Googling myself. I came across a review of my first book at [Books Are Pretty.] Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of book-review blogs. Keep up the good work, guys! The reviewer didn't like my title(I appreciate the honesty) but liked the book, and made many kind comments. The reviewer was not a fan, however, of my letter-writing service. She (or he, the blogger is anonymous) wrote, "However, if it's a love letter you're wanting to write, please don't hire her. Do it yourself, or don't do it at all." The person goes on to state the reason: "To be perfectly blunt, O'Shea doesn't want to blow your boyfriend. You do. And no matter how skilled the writer, that passion is very, very hard to fake." Long live bluntness! I loved this, but I can't make any promises - I haven't met your boyfriend."

Boy, you make one blowjob joke**, and it gets preserved like an insect in amber, forever labeling Books Are Pretty as the go-to place for the book review/blowjob combo.

I stood there, laughing loudly, with Christopher begging me to tell him what's so funny. Nothing! Nothing at all. I also had an awkward time explaining it to my mother.

"Guess what? Someone mentioned me in her book!"

"Wow! What did it say?"

"Oh, she liked a review I wrote about her last book."

"What did you say about it?"

"That she doesn't want to blow your boyfriend."

"Well, if it's Samara O'Shea, watch out. She totally would."

Actually, I probably shouldn't have even brought it up.

But here's two things about page 103: I did not say I didn't like the title. I said she should have picked a different title, because at the time, when "For the Love of Letters" was typed into the Amazon search box, it turned up Letters to Penthouse. I just thought that was important to note. Secondly, I also didn't say I didn't like her letter-writing service. If it's a letter of resignation you need, or a letter of introduction, or a letter of recommendation, and you suck at those things, then go for it. I just don't think you should outsource your love letters.

So yes: Note to Self is a book about journaling, and it covers the hows, whats and whys of diaries, journals, blogging, and what to write about after you've shot the president. She includes a lot of juicy excerpts from her own diary as well as Anais Nin, Lewis Carroll, and many others. So buy the book, don't buy the book, whatever. Just make sure you keep Samara O'Shea away from your boyfriend.

*Point of unpleasant fact: This is still a government building, and when the posted sign says you can pick up mail until 5:45, what it actually means is Go Fuck Yourself. They are long gone at 5:30.

**One? Yeah, yeah. Shut up.


Note to Self
by Samara O'Shea
July, 2008 by HarperCollins
Hardcover, 192pp
ISBN: 0061494151

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