Monday, 28 July 2014

How to Build a Girl, Ch 11-15: Speed round

Quickly, while it's still Monday!

Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) is hosting this auspicious Moranalong, wherein we're reading Caitlin Moran's upcoming YA novel, How to Build a Girl. So far, people are generally fond. Pre-order the book from Emily, if ya like. Or from wherever. Or don't pre-order it. I'm not your mom. (Did I steal that joke from another readalonger? It's hard to tell sometimes, with the hive mind.)

There's no time for marking spoilers in speed-round blogging, so if you're worried about such things, maybe skip this post. 

This weeks reactions:

  • Johanna says things that I would have loved as a teenager but, reading now, make me think "Oh, honey. You are so young." The "always summer above the clouds" bit is what I'm thinking of.
  • So many Almost Famous feelings at the John Kite show.
  • First thought: Oh no, she's gonna bang John Kite. Then he was tripped up and concerned, seeing her cry during his songs, and I accidentally fell in love with him, too. Dangerous creatures, sweet guys with guitars.
  • It took two years for her secret to get out? Does that make sense? Maybe something else brought this about?
  • The taking-away-the-TV thing - did that happen in Moranthology, too? Seems familiar.
  • My note for pg 152-153: "I haaaate this." I don't blame the dad for asking Johanna to help him, here. Damn these shades of grey! I need an Umbridge in this novel.
  • And then, ah, lightening the mood, wanking to thoughts of medieval demons. Classic Johanna.
  • The drunk editorial meeting made me desperately uncomfortable.
  • pg 165/166 "Under the common teenage misapprehension that anyone is (a) observing and (b) gives any kind of fuck what I'm doing." Hello, lifelong delusion. 
  • Kite kissed her gently on the mouth, "[Johanna's] heart explodes like a swarm of bees," and I died (pg 170).
It couldn't be helped, this GIF.
  • Trouble next week to come in the form of bands responding poorly to Johanna's scathing reviews and also Rich's obscene mouth. 

I could wait, come up with a more thoughtful and coherent post, and post this on Tuesday ...

Monday, 21 July 2014

How to Build a Girl, Ch 5-10: I'm in too deep


But first, administrative business: this post is part of the How to Build a Girl readalong, hosted by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!), made possible by HarperCollins, and necessitating the pre-ordering of the featured book. Do iiiiit. Do it. Spoilers will be marked, reactions will be GIFed, and feelings will be shouted.

Also, sorry I didn't make it around to your posts last week, fellow readalongers! Please know that I adore you and will do better this week. Non-readalongers, you should definitely check out the other folks participating. They're the actual bee's meow.

Chapters 5 though 10 carried on in the grand Moran tradition of sneaking bits that touch the ageless core of you in amidst bits that make you violently snort/laugh. This bit
"Musicals are strictly for the homosexuals and womenfolk," Kenny says drily, in a way that's so post-post-postironic it actually stops being communication, and simply becomes confusing and unhelpful. (p 100)
is part of the latter and pulled a choked, garbled, vaguely laugh-related sound out of me that I think may have frightened my husband.

This bit
I am eating this noise like mouthfuls of freezing, glittering fog. I am filling with it. I am using it as energy. Because what you are, as a teenager, is a small, silver, empty rocket. And you use loud music as fuel, and the information in books as maps and coordinates, to tell you where you're going. (p 91/92 in the ebook)
is part of the former. This bit I would have printed out and taped to my own collaged, teenage-bedroom walls. I needed this bit; I needed Joanna, when I was her age. And I'm so sad I didn't have her and so happy she's in the world now. I made endless mixed tapes as a teenager and latched pretty hard onto High Fidelity (which I love on an elemental level to this day). But how much more wonderful would it have been to have relatable, fucking female character to cling to? Johanna's experience of music appreciation being a male-only game is something a lot of us have felt, but having her out there, ready to be loved by teenage (and, obviously, adult) girls from this day on makes things seem a little better.

Can I just: "I am eating this noise like mouthfuls of freezing, glittering fog." God dammit, Johanna. Johanna.

I feel you, is what I'm saying.

Bury me with that quote. I'm getting that quote tattooed on my neck. 

Johanna is cool and uncool in equally unbearable measures, perfectly illustrated in the pen name she's chosen: Dolly Wilde, Oscar Wilde's infamous, tragic, lesbian niece. Johanna is so damn enthusiastic in her name choice, enjoys it in a way that we've been taught is uncool. (That flavour of uncool 

is yet another aspect of her character I think all the readalongers in this bar can relate to.) I just want to cradle her to my bosom, is all. 

Also, at this point in the story *spoilers, I guess, to the end of the post* she's starting to see real success as a music journalist. Unfortunately, we're less than half way through the book.

Predictions for the horrible badness that's sure to come: 
  • Conflict with her dad using her to push his band.
  • Some manner of horrific misogyny from the media she's trying to be a part of.
  • Scary sex stuff (who even knows it's just she's so little and I worry about her. See above re: bosom.)
  • The next band she sees covers the Scooby Doo theme song.

Monday, 14 July 2014

How to Build a Girl, Part 1: Humour, Wanking, and Truth Bombs

It's Monday, which means we've got the How to Build a Girl readalong to distract us from the bummer that is, y'know, Monday. Thanks ever so to Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) for devising such a scheme. Another thanks to HarperCollins for giving us a sneak peak of this book because, shock me shock me shock me, it's awesome. This week we read Part 1, so it's possible you'll see spoilers pop up, especially in the comments, but I'll mark them if they're to appear in the actual post. Really, you should just go ahead and pre-order it (Emily's got your back there, too).

Disclaimer: This post will not be comprehensive, on account of I moved houses this week and, therefore, sucked on the notes-taking front. I did not suck, however, on the not-breaking-plates front. You pick your battles.

First, the most important thing: Johanna's got a younger brother named Lupin. Did I not tell you Harry Potter would come into this? I totally told you Harry Potter would come into this.

Don't act like you're not impressed, Snape.

This book keeps lulling me into a humour stupor, so I'm kind of blind sided each time I read a profoundly relatable line, even though they keep happening. Our hero, Johanna, is 14 and one of five kids in a poor family. Poor economically, mind you. Rich in love and embarrassment and Annie-devotion. Even if you can't relate to her exact situation, she goes and says things like, "When I get to London, that is when I will start being me" (p 31). Damn if that's not a nearly inescapable sentiment. It'll be different when I'm done high school, finished university, working a real job. I've had many a conversation with my Mom about avoiding this kind of feeling, not waiting until some indefinable point in the future to start living life or obtain certain qualities. (My success in this varies. Now that I'm living in my first house, for instance, I will surely exercise regularly and stop getting take-out and grow my own vegetables and keep the place immaculately clean. 

It just follows.)

Another relatable quote, still not spoilery and more on the heartbreaking side: "Because my biggest secret of all -- the one I wouldn't even put in my diary -- is that I really, truly, in my heart, want to be beautiful. I want to be beautiful so much -- because it will keep me safe, and keep me lucky, and it's too exhausting not to be" (bold is mine) (p 53). I mean, I JUST.

Johanna is me. Johanna is all of us. Because Moran spends the first 50 pages of the book establishing this kinship between the reader and Johanna, that moment of embarrassment -- that catastrophic nightmare of an experience -- is all the more painful. Thanks for that, Caitlin. I was planning of bursting into flames that Saturday afternoon, anyway. Well, we needed a jumping off point, and the rest of the book is a reaction to that experience, as I understand it.

Also it's super funny and I'm happy to see such an unembarrassed account of a girl wanking and it is SO HOT HERE and I can't write anymore. (I thought we lived in the North. What is this 30+ degree nonsense.) Next week will surely be better. (When I have more time, that is when I'll write thought-provoking posts. [Ah, balls, did it again.]) 

Monday, 7 July 2014

How to Build a Girl, Introduction: Did everyone get a name tag?

This is officially one of the most exciting things I've done on the internet. Are you ready? Get ready, because it's exciting:

The intrepid Emily over at As the Crow Flies (and Reads!) is hosting a pre-publication readalong of Caitlin Moran's upcoming novel, How to Build a Girl. Emily is living every English major's dream, a dream exacerbated by You've Got Mail

Oh, Shop Around the Corner.
*"You'll Be in my Heart" plays softly in the distance*

and selling books at the Odyssey Bookshop. I hope you twirl in there on the daily, Em. Anywhat, with the book selling comes super fancy perks like being able to host a readalong for a book that ISN'T EVEN OUT YET. YEAH. (I know reading ARCs is old hat for a lot of you, but for me this is, like, a brand new hat. A still in the box, new-hat-smell smelling hat.) Because Emily is amazing, she's hooking us up with advanced copies of How to Build a Girl and bringing us together to read in tandem. 

This week is the introductory post, and next week we'll start readalonging in earnest. To that end, hello! I'm Kayleigh. I'm a copy editor living in northeastern British Columbia and I have a lot of feelings about the Oxford comma, Harry Potter, and BBC's Sherlock. It's likely that all of these things will make an appearance during the course of this readalong.

Caitlin Moran, by the by, is also a Sherlock fan.


She wrote about the life-ruining masterpiece of a show in the only book of hers I've read so far: Moranthology, a collection of articles she's written over the years. I loved Moranthology and followed her on Twitter because of it, which is how I learned that Louise Brealey (who plays Molly Hooper

ily, series 3 Molly

in Sherlock) will be reading the audiobook version of How to Build a Girl. IT'S ALL COMING TOGETHER. All this to say, I find Moran hilarious and am really looking forward to seeing how her humour translates to fiction.

To those of you I've known for a while: hello and I've missed you and please allow me to kiss your noses. 

To those of you who are new: hello and let me know if I can get you anything and we'll work up to the nose kissing thing.