Librarian rant

Does she work at the library solely to humiliate patrons on their choice of books? My belief in the automated checkout system is strengthened after tonight’s ordeal where the senorita mocked 2 out of my 3 book choices. Surprisingly, she left Kink alone– which seems borderline erotica from the first page. But she skewered my first attempt to understand real estate investing with a ridiculous comment “I would rather work at a job I love and not make money than invest in real estate.” Followed quickly by a “Where are you from? You must have grown up in suburbia,” as she checked out Mark Salzman’s Lost In Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia.
Sigh. I miss the Potrero branch librarians who have nothing but encouraging words about my choices. I’d rather the silence of the self-checkout than the heckling of a teenage girl who dreams of becoming a doctor. Need to work on that bedside manner, chica!

Intuition

Science experiments gone awry! Instead of a sci-fi book, this tale of dissected mice and cancer treatments is more of a love story. Cliff, the post-doctorate whose lack of success leads the lab to request him to discontinue his experiments, suddenly has a breakthrough with R7, which injected into tumor-laden mice causes the tumors to melt away. Robin is entangled in a love affair with Cliff, and begins resenting his success. After breaking it off with him, she starts investigating the truth of his claims, bringing 3rd party inquiry into the lab. His sloppy record keeping is only partially to blame; he also disregarded some of the results to just focus on the improved mice. Besides the Robin/Cliff angle, there is also Sandy/Marion’s sexual tension as partners managing the lab, spending untold amounts of time together. Their spouses are not jealous, but Marion’s husband (Jacob) ends up planting the seed of doubt in Robin’s head that Cliff’s results are too good to be true, which starts the unraveling of the lab. There’s also Sandy’s daughter Kate’s infatuation wtih Cliff; and Sandy’s daughter Charlotte’s breakup with news-hungry Jeff.
Good writing, disparate plot lines, and suspense get you through the pages on this one. I found it much more readable than Kaaterskill Falls, another Goodman book which got discarded by page 30.

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Purple Cow

Ah fluffy fluffy. This book is probably only useful for those who haven’t been actually DOING marketing over the last few years. Maybe. I like Godin’s constant challenge to be different, to be unique, to be measurable; but there is nothing in the book that isn’t obvious. Shake things up. Don’t settle for being mediocre. Go for the extreme. Well, yeah. For most of the people reading this, the clearest call to action is to quit their current job and start something else. The challenge to move a large company towards Purple Cows (the remarkable) is an enormous task. Only some of us are up for it.

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Are you print-worthy?

You’ve heard of self-publishing services before. But you haven’t seen anything like the quality of books that the good folks at Blurb.com produce. I recently joined the Blurb team, and during the interview process I familiarized myself with the books they had scattered throughout the offices. The aha! moment came when I compared Blurb books with competitor books– and there’s really no comparison. Flimsy covers, low quality paper & color can’t match what Blurb offers. Blurb books are drool-inducing, high-quality, hardcover books (starting at $30) and softcover ($19). What are you waiting for? Go make a book!
Full disclosure– I am an employee of Blurb Inc. But I wouldn’t endorse the product on my personal site unless I were a believer!

Why Moms Are Weird

My admiration continues for Pamie’s written contributions to the world. While this isn’t the grandest, greatest story I’ve read this year, it was entirely enjoyable & readable. Least favorite part: quoting Good Will Hunting’s scene of “every day I come by hoping not to find you”. Lots of other good parts, bumping into Mickey at the supermarket, parking lot trysts, Boobs organizing all her mother’s lovers around the dinner table, Boobs’ interactions with her mom & sister, Boobs’ relationship and surprising restraint with the married “eye candy” Zach.
Still reeling from her father’s death, she goes back to Virginia to rescue her mom & sister from their existence, her mom stumbling around with a broken leg & her sister too entwined with a psycho ex-con boyfriend. Revelations about love and relationships abound. Why do the ladies persist in writing about love?!

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Crossing California

Despite the intense wordiness, I got swept away by the story of these Chicagoans in the late 70s/early 80s. Langer has a great feel for characters, convincingly writing (among others!) the perspective of a conniving, overachieving 12 year old Jewish girl then seamlessly switching to the perspective of her 40ish old mother who is counting the days to ending her marriage so she can fly off to Paris and live in solitude. Add Larry, the 18 year old brother, into the mix (whose band Rovner! is a mix of puns & Jewish rock, and huge reminder of Portnoy’s Complaint character). And Michael, the dad, who pathetically hits on his best friend’s mistress and who *might* be gay. Stretching beyond the Rovner clan, Langer tackles the Wasserstroms (Jill, 12 and hellbent on losing political causes; Michelle, 17 and sampling drugs, booze, acting, singing, but smart enough to ace her SATs and withstand the overtures of male teachers; Charlie, the dad who loses his job at the restaurant but ends up marrying the woman whose review got him fired). In addition to those 2 families, there’s also the Silverman/Wills (Muley, the audio producer turned film director, who created the character of Peachie Moskowitz in order to win a role on a kids radio show; Deirdre, his mom who reads every book in the local library’s literature section and refuses money from Muley’s showbiz dad; Carl who woos Deirdre after stealing her dad’s music and earning buckets of cash from the rights).
So many characters, marauding plot lines, intriguing stories.
Includes glossary, for those of you who need Bob Dylan, cockblocking, “hava nagilah”, and honkey defined.
***
Great recommendation from Fishman

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