17 June 2009

Hey baby, what turns your pages?

There are at least two things this "Marie Claire" article "8 Ways To Use Books to Flirt" does right; one of them is that it talks about books and reading in a slightly more intelligent way than expected from that title. The writer interviewed Jack Murnighan, author of a collection of summaries of all those books you should have read already called BEOWULF ON THE BEACH (oh, Beowulf) to get some lighthearted tips on using books to attract the opposite gender, and you can tell it's lighthearted because in the answer to the first question they spelled ULYSSES wrong. (And all the copy editors in the world just died.)

In any case, some stray thoughts:
  • Having actually read LOLITA, I would not classify it as a titillating book either in title or subject matter. (As for THE NAUGHTY BITS, I got it confused with THE NASTY BITS, the Anthony Bourdain food collection, and started thinking about offal, but your mileage may vary.) I would never cast undue aspersions on a man or a woman I saw reading LOLITA in public, but I would cast them on people who called it "titillating." Just... consider it.

  • At what party are ANNA KARENINA and MADAME BOVARY coming up in regular conversation? First, I would like to be at that party, and second, that could go horribly wrong. ("I went to visit my friend who's having a horrible time; she just found her boyfriend's been cheating on her." "You know what Flaubert would have to say about that?")

  • As for bringing up Márquez, I quote the immortal Rob Gordon: "Hey, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm certainly not the dumbest. I mean, I've read books like THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA, and I think I've understood them. They're about girls, right?"*

  • In college, the sole class required of everyone in my in my concentration (or "major" for the rest of you) was a literary theory course in which we used THE CANTERBURY TALES as our main text for writing tedious papers on which my TA, for whom English was not a first language, would change words apparently at random and leave no other comments. In fact, maybe the real purpose of the class was to get concentrators to bond over how much they hated the class, in which case, mission accomplished. A Daily Beast interview reveals Murnighan is a fellow alum, which suggests at least he must have had a different TA. Anyway, that ruined me for ever using THE CANTERBURY TALES as an aphrodisiac, but if Chaucer works for you, God bless you and make you happy in love and life.

*Completely off-topic, but if you enjoy "High Fidelity" and use Twitter you should be following Emily's tweeting of the movie. It's been too long since I've watched it, but this will tide me over.


Elizabeth said...

The day I started subscribing to the Baltimore Sun, it laid off a third of its staff, including most of its copy editors. Ever since then, the newspaper has had so many mistakes in it that I wonder if the surviving writers are deliberately seeding their articles with errors in solidarity for their fallen copy editors. Maybe Marie Claire is likewise having difficulties in these tough times.

8yearoldsdude said...

high fidelity was on some backwater portion of network TV last week. it holds up surprisingly well against time and even against the book, which is an obvious rarity.

Ellen said...

8, it is quite rare. I'm not sure I like the movie of "High Fidelity" more than the book, but I'm more likely to put in the DVD than re-read parts of it given limited time.

Wade Garrett said...

I don't remember how many times I saw High Fidelity in the movie theater, but it was more than once, and that is something I almost never do. I was really self-conscious about being a nerd back then (nine years later, all that's changed is the self-consciousness), and I remember thinking that the people in Rob Gordon's circle were all people I recognized and would have been friends with in real life. How would The Boss put it? Oh, yes: "We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we liked the same clothes."

I agree with 8yod that the movie has aged really well. I haven't sat down to watch it with a bag of popcorn in a while, but when I'm around the apartment and there isn't anything on television, I'll often put it on as background noise while I clean or do the dishes or catch up on e-mails. Those guys are good company.

Wade Garrett said...

As for the article, I don't think I'm overreaching when I say that I probably consider books to be just about as big of a turn-on as anybody I know, and yet I disagree with almost everything this guy has to say, with the exception of his last comment at the bottom there.

Ellen said...

The author also forgot to account for a huge hole: Say you follow all his tips, you meet your hypothetical Book Person using 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE as bait, and then your Book Person finds out you took notes from a book of summaries of other books? End of hypothetical relationship. (And potential future terrible romantic comedy -- I'm seeing Jessica Alba and prop glasses.)

8yearoldsdude said...

perhaps Dane Cook could co-star. It turns out he was only trying to impress her by asking about her book. the truth is revealed and they tear off their dowdy clothes and glasses and go scuba diving with Paul Walker's abs.

Ellen said...

Such a disappointing result for kooky librarians Lily Tomlin and Christopher Walken.