Men Falling Apart by Laura

You’ve lost your job, which you didn’t even like and weren’t very good at in the first place. You’re pretty sure your wife is having an affair, which she isn’t trying very hard to hide. You love your kid(s), but he/she/they are, frankly, sociopaths-in-training. You have asthma or allergies or a bad back, you’re overweight and out of shape, and if you’re not bald yet, you will be soon.

You are a man falling apart, and you’re well-represented in several American novels written in the last few years.

I Hate You for Making Me Understand You by Laura

One result of reading fiction is that it often lets you into the skin of people you wouldn’t otherwise meet or know – by walking around inside their skulls, metaphorically speaking, you develop an empathy, an understanding, of their needs, their fears and hopes, their very humanness.

Sometimes I hate that.

Especially when I am determined to hate a character(s).

Bizarro Laura: in which a supposedly sophisticated reader grapples with the disappointment of ambiguity (and the satisfaction of Happily Ever After) by Laura

I’ve always thought of myself as a sophisticated reader – that is, able to handle a heaping helping of uncertainty and doubt in my literary diet… strong enough to withstand the Happily Ever After desires of Harlequin Nation.

But… nope. Two books I’ve recently read prove otherwise. Instead, I’ve been plunged into a Bizarro World: the literary novel I was supposed to have enjoyed merely frustrated me… and the romance novel I read just to stay on top of popular authors delighted me to no end.

What??!? This has caused a crisis of not-epic proportions.

Jamaica Kincaid, Benny Hill, the Inevitability of Death, and Me by Laura

Much to my doom-and-gloom-loving husband’s chagrin, I am generally a happy person. You know what I mean: I have to be dragged to many Oscar-buzz movies, most of which seem to be set in concentration camps or their equivalent. (I prefer the crazy antics of Will Ferrell and anything with the words “hilarity ensues” in the plot description.) You can often find me whistling while I work. I think those “I Haz Cheezburger” cats are cute. Et cetera.

But recently I’ve been looking on the dark side of life… and it’s all Jamaica Kincaid’s fault.