Mary Shelley Needs Cocoa and Cookies. And Prozac.

hi all!

Oh my goodness, extremely exciting things! One of my books was on TV!!!!! For like, a minute, in the background, on a bookshelf, but facing out! You could totally tell what it was! Well, I could! Eeeee!

It was on that new show The Return of Jezebel James, which is also, sadly, now that cancelled show. But still, for a brief moment there was a TV show about a children’s book editor at HarperCollins, and isn’t that thrilling? I would have watched this show for the rest of time just to look at all the Harper books and posters and displays in the background. Or at least fast-forwarded through it to get to the Harper scenes (by the way, insider scoop: totally not what the office really looks like). Warriors poster! The Luxe display! And then…


Do you see it? Do you see it?


NELLIE OLESON! Oh SNAP! Yes, there she is! Wow. And I thought being on Wikipedia made me famous! 🙂

TV also made me happy by keeping all the right people on Dancing with the Stars, although I did feel bad for poor Monica Seles. But yay Adam Carolla surviving! I have this dream where Julianne manages to magically transform him and by week six he starts dancing just like Apolo Anton Ohno.  🙂 Wouldn’t that be reassuring to the rest of us? That maybe it can be done, no matter how hopeless you seem? Hmmm.

Also, I agree that Priscilla Presley looked a little precise in her mambo, but (a) it was still awesome, and (b) she is dancing in FOUR-INCH HEELS! I read that today. Higher than any of the other ladies’ heels! Why is she crazy?? I swear to you I literally could not even walk in four-inch heels. I would keel over and die.

And Kristi, of course, continues to be splendiferous. I’d also be very happy to see Shannon Elizabeth in the top three — her quickstep ruled! I WANT THAT DRESS. Actually, I want all those outfits, except for Kristi’s tragic mambo thing.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about this post-apocalyptic book I’m reading. I was sort of hoping I’d have finished it by this week, but I…just…can’t…do it. OOF. I’m about a hundred pages from the end, so I’ll make myself get there. But I would so rather be reading about Abraham Lincoln! Isn’t that the strangest thing I’ve ever said? Well, it’s very very weird to me. I love post-apocalyptic stories (check out my list of favorites). This is literally called The Last Man! A plague decimates the Earth! Everybody dies! Drowning! War! Romance! Betrayal!

Except it isn’t anywhere near that exciting. I mean, all of that happens, but it takes fooooooooooooooooooooooooooreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever. Even when the plague hits, instead of wiping out everyone at once in, like, a week, the way it always does in the movies, here it’s all REALISTIC and takes YEARS. Every summer it’s really bad and lots of people die, and then winter comes and the mysterious plague quiets down and everyone breathes a sigh of relief and settles down to do more of nothing until the next summer. If I were editing this, I’d be like, “really, Mary? don’t you think we could skip all this? Wouldn’t it be more exciting if everyone just…died already?”

I mean, we’re 400 pages in (YES. FOUR HUNDRED.) and there’s several thousand people still alive! The plague didn’t even show up until page 195, and it doesn’t reach England until page 250. My editors would totally yell at me for that! They would say that, you know, 200 pages of character-building is perhaps a little excessive. Perhaps YEAH. Especially when it all sounds like this:

“Come, my Clara, sit beside me in this aerial bark; quickly and gently it cleaves the azure serene, and with soft undulation glides upon the current of the air; or, if storm shake its fragile mechanism, the green earth is below; we can descend, and take shelter on the stable continent.”

I’m not kidding. Every single sentence is like that.

“The acquisition of unknown languages was too tedious an occupation, for one who referred every expression to the universe within, and read not, as many do, for the mere sake of filling up time; but who was still questioning herself and her author, moulding every idea in a thousand ways, ardently desirous for the discovery of truth in every sentence.”

See why it’s taking me so long? 🙂

So, if nobody was dying, what happened in the first 195 pages? I’ll tell you (spoiler alert!): Lots of relationship stuff that is completely unrelated to the apocalypse. The five main characters fall in love, marry, cheat on each other (but with this kind of language, it’s actually sort of hard to be sure if that happened), become powerful, go to war, la la la la la. I kept expecting one of them to accidentally cause the apocalypse, at the very least. This one guy becomes essentially president of England (they call him a “Lord Protector”), and I was like, this is it! He’s so power-hungry, he’ll start a war and everyone will die! But no. He’s a pretty good president, for the most part. He dies in a war. They elect a new one. So much for him.

So basically the entire first half of the book has practically nothing to do with the second half. I almost wonder if Mary Shelley didn’t know she was writing an apocalypse book when she started. Maybe she got halfway through this complicated relationship story, decided she hated all the characters, and was like, hey, maybe I’ll kill them all off! That’d be unique!

I do give her lots of credit for writing pretty much the first end-of-the-world book ever, at least like this. Her plague and war and rising seas and chain of natural disasters are actually pretty similar to what modern-day post-apocalyptic authors envision, so that’s impressive.

But it’s hilarious because it’s set in the year 2073, but since it’s written in 1824, it’s the funniest old-fashioned future I’ve ever read about. Everyone is still getting about by horse and carriage. England is still divided into aristocrats and servants. America is still a “vast untamed wilderness.” Istanbul is still Constantinople! It’s about as far from William Gibson or Michael Crichton as you could get.

I was curious, so I went to read about Mary Shelley to find out what was going on with her when she wrote this book, and it turns out she was massively depressed because everyone she ever loved kept dying. My GOODNESS! Poor Mary Shelley! I had no idea! She had the saddest life in the history of ever! It’s actually all really fascinating if you want to read the Wikipedia article about it.

But basically, the short version is: she eloped with Percy Shelley when she was 17 (and he was 22), even though he was married to another woman. She became like instantly pregnant, was sick all the time, lost the baby, and had to watch Percy hook up with lots of other women (“free love,” dude), including his actual wife, who bore him a son when they got back to London. Plus they were always destitute because her father disapproved of the match and wouldn’t give her any money.

Then Mary’s half-sister committed suicide and so did Percy’s wife. Mary and Percy got married, had two kids, and went off to Italy for a while. And then both of her kids died and THEN Percy took a sailboat trip down the coast and DROWNED.

And then she wrote this book. Sooooooooooo…you can kind of see where her “end of the world” mindset is coming from. There are pages and pages and pages of elegies to everyone who’s dying and the fading light of the world and how much the character wishes he were dead too so he could be with his loved ones and oh my goodness Mary Shelley needs a hug so badly.

So this isn’t going to be my new Crime and Punishment, even though it’s just as hard to get through. Mary Shelley gets more benefit of the doubt from me, first for having unique ideas, and then also because she’s so sad and lonely. I’m going to need to read a truckload of Meg Cabot books to cheer me up after this.

I really really hope I finish it soon, though! In the other book I’m reading, there’s this crazy war going on! The rebels are only a few miles from Washington! The president is surrounded by incompetent generals! He just issued a proclamation that was so historically important it literally made me cry! I KNOW. WHAT. I assure you the Emancipation Proclamation never made me cry the first twenty times I learned about it, except maybe out of boredom and wishing I were in my swimming pool instead of a tropical classroom.

But suddenly in this book it’s the most moving thing ever. Abraham Lincoln was so passionate about it! He literally had to stop for a moment before signing it because he was afraid his hand was shaking too much, and he didn’t want future generations to look at his signature and say: “He hesitated.” !!! And then his cabinet applauded! Crowds of people cheered in the streets of Boston! The whole course of American history was changed! It’s ridiculous. I love this book. I think I have a crush on Abraham Lincoln.

Oh, and speaking of things I probably shouldn’t admit online, I totally loved Britney on How I Met Your Mother. I thought she was sweet and funny (adorable glasses! aww!) and I wish she had friends like that cast, who would probably hang out with her and her kids and play board games and drink cocoa instead of boozing and partying and not wearing underwear all the time. Poor Britney. I vote for more of these types of career choices!

Quote of the Day: “She’s a 516. She may dress like a 718 and act like a 212, but trust me, she’s a 516. And her husband, letting her out on St. Patrick’s Day alone? If he’s not a 973 then I’m a 307. [off Ted’s look] Wyoming.” — Barney on How I Met Your Mother 
clip_image001 I love this joke because it’s so specific to New York, but to a New Yorker, it’s perfect and absolutely hilarious.