December may be the Christmas holiday season, but for bloggers, magazines, and news/entertainment shows, it’s the season of lists. If we book lovers aren’t certain what we SHOULD have read this year, dozens (if not more) lists are out there to tell us.
To assist those who are already tired of lists or don’t have the time to look at all of them, I have read through (or skimmed) many of such lists (Top Ten books of 2013, Books You SHOULD Have Read in 2013, Best Books of 2013, etc…) and below are my opinions of the Best and Worst Book Lists of 2013 (in NON-list format)
WORST “BEST BOOKS of 2013″ LISTS
Both of these lists are in a gallery format. Ugh!! When I had an old computer, I hated galleries because it would take 30 seconds to get to another page, so reading a top ten list could take 5 minutes (if my computer behaved itself). I’ve recently upgraded, but I still see the gallery as a cheap hits machine, and the gallery is probably used to fool advertisers, which isn’t my business, but still. I don’t see a good reason to use a gallery, except to get cheap hits.
Therefore, any list that is put into a gallery format automatically gets ranked at the bottom of a lists ranking, no matter how good the list itself is.
MOST DISTRACTING “BEST BOOKS OF 2013″ LIST
The list itself isn’t bad, but all the photographs and headlines from the other unrelated articles on the margins are distracting and take away from the Top Ten list that I wanted to read. As an American (from the United States), it’s interesting to see the differences between a U.S. “Best Fiction” list and a British “Best Fiction” list, and I like to see how books from each genre are rated and listed.
But if I want to get distracted when I read (and sometimes I do), I’ll go to The Huffington Post.
EASIEST TO READ “BEST BOOKS of 2013″ LIST
The picks are displayed on one page and easy to find, which makes sense because Amazon is all about making it easy for buyers (though maybe not so easy for its employees, depending on who you talk to).
MOST CREATIVE CATEGORIES FOR “BEST BOOKS of 2013″ LISTS
From here, you can go to other lists as well, like the “Most Crucial…” and “Most Overlooked….” Books of 2013. I’m not sure what “Most Crucial” means, but I’m sure it was creative.
Slate could have tied with The Guardian for being the “Most Distracting,” but I wanted each to be a winner!
RUNNER-UP “BEST BOOKS of 2013″ LIST
This one has more genres than I’ve ever seen (Best Paranormal Fantasy?), and it’s voter based, which some readers may prefer over selections made by anonymous (alleged) editors. Click on the winner, and you get the top 20 of every genre. The only reason I don’t judge this as The Best “Best Books of 2013 List” is because there are too many books involved. 20 categories with 20 selections each equals 400 books (if my math is correct). 400 books? I… cannot… comprehend!
And now for the drumroll…
THE BEST “BEST BOOKS of 2013 LIST”
This is my favorite list because it’s not really a list and all (or a lot) of the books are displayed on one screen in a seemingly disorganized way. I don’t know if NPR’s selections are any good or how they compare with the choices other book blogs made, but the spread is great! And it’s not a list! It’s more like a giant mass, but if you number them in order, I’m sure you can make a list out of it.
I might seem hypocritical because I make fun of lists but then I write post after post about them. However, when it comes to personality faults, hypocrisy is pretty minor. When we have so many opinions and attitudes, nobody can be consistent all the time, so if I’m going to be a hypocrite, I might as well be a hypocrite on something as unimportant as lists. Also, I didn’t actually READ the lists. I merely glanced at them, so I’m not sure if I’m a hypocrite if I make fun of lists and don’t really read them when I discuss them.
At any rate, the lists are there for you to check out, read through, or glance at. What do you think? Which list is your favorite? What do you think of galleries? Which book list do you think is the BEST BOOK LIST OF 2013?
It’s not often a man gets to hear two or more women talking when they don’t know they’re being listened to. I don’t mean eavesdropping in a public place like a restaurant or library. I’m talking about overhearing a conversation that is meant to be completely private, a conversation where nobody else was supposed to be around. This has only happened once in my life (I think), and it happened with Danielle.
Danielle had a big bruise on her head from where Vin had punched her, but she flipped her hair over it, so hardly anybody saw it, and even when she danced crazy at Nero’s, the lighting was so bad (and men weren’t staring at her forehead) that nobody noticed it. We didn’t talk about it much after our discussion in the car. I was still trying to convince Danielle to come up to meet my family for Christmas. Even though she was reluctant, I think I was getting close to convincing her. At least I hoped so. I had already bought the airplane tickets.
I came home from work at lunch one day. I wasn’t feeling well, and I called and left a message (this was in the early 1990s before cell phones; we had to use land lines and answering machines, and some people still didn’t have answering machines, so we’d let the phone ring and ring and ring), but Danielle never picked up. And when I got home, she wasn’t there. I figured she was at the gym or at a movie. I was pretty sure she wasn’t at the library or bookstore.
Once I was sure she wasn’t home, I fell asleep on the bed. I didn’t even bother eating lunch. I was dozing in and out with a bunch of weird half-dreams that I couldn’t remember afterwards when I heard the door to the apartment open and Danielle’s voice, which sounded distant and conversational. She wasn’t talking to me from the living room, and it was weird that she was speaking because I’d rarely heard Danielle talk to herself (unless she was randomly cursing). For a moment, I wondered if a guy was with her.
But then I heard a familiar female voice, but I couldn’t make out the words and I couldn’t place the voice. After listening more closely (and waking up a little more), I figured it out.
Linda, Kirk’s ex-girlfriend. They had broken up after Halloween because she wouldn’t spend the night with him. As Danielle and Linda talked in vague distant voices, I heard occasional words, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I thought about calling out to them, just to let them know I was there. I knew that was the right thing to do.
Instead, I propped myself up and began listening more closely.
“Which one do you think?” Linda asked.
“Take Emma,” Danielle said. “I think I’m tired of Jane Austen.” Pause. “Here’s Jane Eyre. But it’s not written by Jane Austen, so I think… I’ll read this next. Do people get Jane Austen confused with Jane Eyre?”
“I don’t like book titles where it’s only the character’s name,” Linda said. “That doesn’t tell us much.”
“I know,” Danielle said. “Who the hell is Emma anyway? At least Jane Eyre has a last name.”
“If anybody writes a book about me, I hope it’s not called Linda. My name is boring.”
“Why don’t you go by Lynn?”
“I don’t know. A one syllable name? That’s even more boring.”
“My name is really Daniella, but… people kept leaving out the ‘a,’… so I just said ‘fuck it.’ And now I’m Danielle.”
What? I didn’t know that. But then again, Danielle (or Daniella) could have been lying. Danielle lied a lot, but I couldn’t complain about that because I supported a lot of her lies (and plus I was eavesdropping when I should have let them know I was there). I wasn’t sure why she’d lie about her name being Daniella. The name Daniella actually made sense. She looked more like a Daniella than a Danielle, but I’d never tell her that because then I’d have to explain why I thought that, and I wouldn’t have an explanation other than “You just do.” I got so lost in thought that I lost track of their conversation.
Linda said something about LA Law, and Danielle said that LA Law sucked. Linda claimed that LA Law wasn’t as good as it used to be but it didn’t suck, and Danielle said it sucked. I’d had this conversation with Danielle before (but not about LA Law). Once Danielle decided that something sucked, it sucked, and nobody was going to change her mind. They talked about a couple other TV shows, and I got bored. They weren’t talking about me, and they weren’t talking about Kirk. The least they could do was have a pillow fight.
“I think I’m going to quit my job,” I heard Linda say.
“I hate teaching. I thought I’d like it.”
“I like books. I like writing, but my kids all hate it, and they hate me.”
“So? Kids are supposed to hate you,” Danielle said.
“I thought I’d be different. I thought I’d be a cool teacher.”
“I hated the cool teachers,” Danielle said. “You should never just… quit your job.”
“But I hate it.”
“I hate my job too, but they pay me money, so I go.”
There was a pause. “I thought you didn’t work,” Linda said.
“I just tell people that. I’m embarrassed by my job.”
This was getting interesting. Danielle was about to tell Linda that she was a stripp…a topless dancer.
“I’m a paralegal… for… Darren B. Smelley.”
There was another pause. “That guy?” Linda said
I knew who Darren B. Smelley was. He was a defense attorney who ran really cheesy television ads about how he could get you off if you’d been falsely accused or arrested by crooked cops. He wore loud clothes on his ads and had a cheesy slogan: “Darren B. Smelley… because getting arrested stinks!” I had no idea if he was any good as a trial attorney. I just knew his ads sucked.
“I didn’t know that,” Linda said.
“I don’t talk about it. Some people get really mad when they find out I work for a slick lawyer.”
“Is he any good?”
“He keeps a lot of guilty people out of prison,” Danielle said.
“That’s good… for them, I guess” Linda said.
For a moment, I was angry that Danielle hadn’t told me that she worked for Smelley. Then I remembered that she was lying to Linda. Then I got angry that Danielle hadn’t checked out her lie with me so that I could back it up, but I wouldn’t be able to talk to her about this because I wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place.
“I hate my job,” Danielle said. “But I never know when I’ll need the money, so I work.”
There was another pause. Then Danielle said, “Find another job. Then quit.”
Linda sighed. “You’re right. But I really hate those kids.”
“Then it’ll be fun when you get another job… and you can tell those kids to fuck off.”
I laughed out loud. I shouldn’t have laughed because part of eavesdropping is staying quiet, but the way Danielle had said it, the inflection, the way it came out of nowhere, it was funny. Danielle was funny sometimes, even when she didn’t mean to be. But she wasn’t going to think this was funny.
“Jimmy?” she said. There was part caution, part anger in her voice.
“Yeah?” I answered slowly. This wasn’t good. Luckily, I was already wearing a robe and my hair was messed up from sleeping, so I stuck my head out of the bedroom door.
“You guys woke me up,” I said as groggily as I could.
Danielle was walking down the hallway toward me. “How long were you…?”
And I closed the door in her face.
But I reopened it before she could kick it hard or beat on it or start a loud argument that I couldn’t win in front of Linda.
“I promise, I didn’t hear much,” I said quickly. “I’ll close the door and turn music on.” I could tell from the look on her face that I would hear about this later.
20 minutes later, Danielle opened the door a lot more quietly than I had expected.
“So… what did you hear?” she said.
I told her that I agreed with her that LA Law sucked. I asked how much of the Darren B. Smelley stuff was true. She said that when she smashed the bottle on her ex-boyfriend’s head, that Smelley got her off (in a legal sense) and that she got to know him pretty well. I almost asked the obvious follow-up question, but it would have sounded vulgar and I might not have liked the answer. Then I asked her the question that was really gnawing at me.
“Is your name really Daniella?” I figured I might as well ask.
She blew some air out of her lips and then quietly said, “Yes.”
“Should I call you that?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“It’s your name. I don’t want to call you by the wrong name.”
“Then… call me Daniella.” And she smiled a little.
I pretended to introduce her to invisible people. “Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my girlfriend… Daniella.” I liked the sound of that.
“I never said I was going,” Daniella said.
“Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my girlfriend… who reads Jane Austen and puts ex-boyfriends in the hospital… Daniella.”
“I will, but I really want you to come up with me for Christmas.”
“Okay!” Daniella said with her arms folded. I could tell that she had already made her decision, that it had nothing to do with anything I’d said or done. “I’ll come meet your family. But I have one condition. And you’re not going to like it.”
To be continued! And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning (it’s getting kind of long), start here. Or click on “The Literary Girlfriend” category to select a chapter.
This struck me as weird. One of my kids came home from school with a “Making Connections” chart for a reading activity. Students were to write down a fact or an event from what they were reading and then write down how they related to it. It was kind of like showing your work in math, except it was for reading, and I just thought everybody made connections when they read, but I guess a lot of kids don’t, and the kids that don’t make connections probably aren’t good readers. Anyway (after I worked through all that internally), I realized I’m probably lucky that I just naturally make connections when I read.
For example, I just read an article in the USA Today that shows how reading patterns have changed over the last 20 years by comparing its bestsellers lists of 20 years ago with current lists. When it comes to authors of fiction, the bestsellers list of 20 years ago looks kind of (but not completely) like today’s, with authors like Stephen King, John Grisham, Danielle Steele,and John Sandford still writing top sellers.
Though some of the authors remain the same, there have been some changes in reading tastes. In the early 1990s, a bunch of self-help books were bestsellers. Today there are fewer self-help books and a lot more fiction, especially series. Today there are lots and lots of series. In fact, there are probably waaaay too many book series right now (but that’s a different topic for a different time)
And when I started thinking about these national trends (here comes the…”connection”), I realized that my own reading tastes/habits have changed over the last 20 years, but not in the same way the national trends have.
5 WAYS MY READING HABITS HAVE CHANGED IN THE LAST 20 YEARS
20 years ago…
1. I bought a lot of hardcovers. I was proud of my hardcover collection until I realized (after getting married and having kids) that hardcovers took up a lot of space, were too expensive (even at half price), and very impractical. Why was I buying hardcovers for books I only read once? If I were only going to read books once and NOT give them away, I should wait a few months for the paperbacks. Now… I buy paperbacks and only get a hardcover if it’s in the bargain bin (or at the library).
2. I was a lot more loyal to authors. If Stephen King or John Grisham (or even Tom Clancy) wrote a book, I’d buy it. Eventually, I realized that authors who churn out novels usually don’t churn out GOOD novels. I also realized that authors wrote the same book over and over again. I got tired of reading the same book over and over again. It took me awhile, but I finally figured that out. So now I don’t read (usually) read more than three books from the same author.
3. I read (past tense) political books. I was on one side of the political aisle and read a bunch of books that agreed with me. I still have the same political beliefs I did 20 years ago, but I don’t want my money going to political blowhards. I’d kind of like to get paid for being a blowhard though. But I’m not going to pay money to read somebody else’s political views anymore (unless it’s funny… I mean, unless it’s meant to be funny). If somebody wants to pay ME for reading their political beliefs, I’m open to it.
4. I finished (or made a legitimate attempt to finish) every book I started. Now, I quit reading a book whenever I feel like it. It doesn’t even matter if I spent money on it; if I don’t want to finish it, I won’t. I’d rather have wasted the money (hopefully not much money) than the time. I’m sure I’m missing out on great books for a stupid reason, but I’m also enjoying some pretty good shorter books, so I guess it evens out.
5. If there was a book series I was interested in, I would start at book one and piledrive through them, no matter how long the series was. Now, if I know ahead of time the book is part of a long series, I usually don’t bother with it, especially if the series isn’t done yet. I figure if the author can’t tell the story in a trilogy, then the author needs a better editor. 20 years from now, trilogies might be two books too many for me.
A lot of things have changed over the last 20 years. Hair styles, fashion, and music tastes are different. Technology has changed. We’re even living in a different millennium than we were 20 years ago. In the last 20 years, I’ve gotten married, had kids, and gone bald (and all three were major lifestyle changes). And because of a “connection” I made while reading somebody else’s article, I’ve realized that my reading tastes/habits have changed over the last 20 years.
But enough about me! I’m sure I’m not the only reader whose tastes have changed over time. How have your reading tastes changed over the last 20 years (or 10 years, or 5 years or 1 year)?
The Christmas holiday season can be a frustrating time when it comes to reading. Even if we book lovers have time off from work, we often have to use that time for extra chores/errands (like buying presents), or traveling, or spending time at other people’s homes.That leaves little time for reading, and that can be frustrating. The Christmas holidays shouldn’t be frustrating. If we want to read in our spare moments during the holiday season, we should be able to.
And here’s how to read during the Christmas holidays without causing conflict or putting yourself in danger:
READING IN PUBLIC
Reading is almost essential while traveling because traveling is really boring. However, reading in public places such as airports or bus stations (or even the mall) can be risky because you leave yourself vulnerable to getting conked on the head or having your stuff stolen (or both). It’s easy for evil-doers to sneak up on you while you’re reading in public, so if you absolutely HAVE to read in public….
1. Put your back up against a barrier like a wall or window. Lean against a wall if you’re standing. Sit in a chair that’s against a wall or a window. This way, nobody will sneak up on you.
2. Put your stuff behind your feet if you can’t hold all of it. Keep your legs connected to your possessions so that you’ll feel them if somebody tries to swipe your stuff accidentally.
3. Look up while you’re reading and make eye contact. Give the nod of acknowledgement and then continue reading safely. Even when you’re reading, you need to be aware of your surroundings. If you’re not aware, at least act like you’re aware.
4. Don’t read while you’re walking. You can trip or walk into other people (that usually ticks them off), or you might also get conked on the head.
READING WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
There’s a stigma attached to reading in public or at social gatherings. It’s okay to watch television, listen to music, or get drunk (to a certain degree), but people will look at you weird if you read. With smart phones, it’s a little easier to get away with it, but you still have to do so in small (or short) doses or else others will think that you’re a tech tool. Normally, I don’t mind if others think I’m a tool, but during the holidays, I try to get along with others, especially my family.
A lot of people don’t care if you read at a gathering, but others do. If you’re with people who make snide comments about your reading or give you dirty looks (and you care about what they think), here are a few tips to enjoying yourself without offending anybody (by “anybody,” I mean “most reasonable people”).
1. Read while others are watching TV. People watching TV usually don’t care if somebody else is reading, but be ready to get talked to during commercials.
2. Read if others start talking about politics. If the discussion gets heated, say you’re looking up information on your phone, then read the book of your choice, and if anybody asks, say you got sidetracked. Let others get worked up into a political froth, and you can enjoy the book of your choosing.
3. Read in an isolated location. Nobody can disturb you or complain about you if they can’t see you. Tell others you need to go out for a smoke (even if you don’t smoke), and they’ll leave you alone unless they smoke. Then you might have to put up with talking AND smoking, so be careful.
WHEN NOT TO READ!!!
1. Do NOT read when guests/family arrive or leave.
2. Do NOT read at the meal table while others are eating.
3. Do NOT read while the host is doing work that you can help out with. Help out the host (unless you are the host, but if you’re the host then you probably won’t have time to read). If you help out with the holiday chores, then you have the right to read later.
4. Do NOT read while your kids are acting up.
5. Do NOT read while opening presents. If somebody gives you a book, then you may read it while others are opening gifts.
GREAT RESULT OF READING IN PUBLIC
Sometimes reading in public or at a gathering can lead to a discussion about books. That in itself is a great reason to read at a gathering. Most conversations are meaningless (which is okay). But a conversation about books is almost always better than any other topic. It’s better than talking about politics, religion, abortion, television, celebrities, and most sports. The only thing I’d rather talk about than books is football.
HORRIBLE RESULT OF READING IN PUBLIC
A problem is sometimes a weird stranger will want to talk about books. True, I might be a weird stranger to people I don’t know, but I don’t start conversations about books with people I don’t know. The last time a weird stranger started talking to me about books (I’m not sure the guy was weird or not, but I wasn’t in the best mood because I was in the airport), I told him my “legal drugs” had just kicked in so I wasn’t sure if my book was good or not.
That ended the conversation. If you state that your legal drugs have just kicked in, people will leave you alone (unless they want to conk you on the head and steal your stuff). This might also apply to illegal drugs too, but I’ll never admit that I took illegal drugs in public (because I never take illegal drugs).
READING DURING THE HOLIDAYS FEEDBACK
These rules work for me, but they might not work for you. What tips do you have for reading during the Christmas holidays (or any holidays or any time you’re in public)?
When your girlfriend gets punched out by another guy, it can cause some issues. For one thing, the girlfriend should never get punched out by a guy. That’s understood. But in this situation, I knew Danielle had done something to set up the violence. She had managed to get herself alone in public (if that makes sense) with Vin, get decked by him when I wasn’t there, and then have the police show up at the Mexican restaurant within minutes. Danielle could be vindictive, and she could plan stuff out. She had intentionally kept me out of the restaurant when she confronted Vin. What else had she set up? It wasn’t something I could just come right out and ask, especially since she had just been punched out.
As we got into the car, I asked, “Did you find your bag?”
Danielle peeked under the passenger seat. “I guess I left it at the apartment.” She saw my grimace. “I just got knocked out, okay? My memory is messed up.”
“You told me about the bag before you…” I stopped. It wasn’t that important.
Danielle was quiet for the first minute of the drive, but as soon as she saw an exit ramp for the freeway, she pointed to it. Normally, the driver picked the route, but this was an unusual circumstance, so I just took the freeway. Danielle rolled down the window all the way, so much so that the noise of the 65 mile-per-hour breeze prevented any talking. Danielle closed her eyes with a grin on her face. Until I brought the car to a complete stop.
“No!” Danielle said, opening her eyes. In front of her (or us) was a seemingly endless mass of cars come to a complete stop.
“I think there’s a wreck up ahead,” I said. It was a Sunday, and there weren’t any road construction signs. I heard sirens in the distance.
“At least we know those aren’t for you,” I added.
Danielle reached for the radio, but I said, “I think it’s a good time to talk.”
Danielle closed her eyes and said, “Shit!”
“So, what really happened in there?” I asked.
“I have a headache,” Danielle whined.
“Then I won’t grope you when we get home. Who was that Vin guy?”
She half shrugged. “An asshole.”
I had that part figured out.
“I was trying to keep you out of this,” Danielle finally continued. “You said you can’t handle crazy shit.”
I knew it. I had told Danielle a while ago that I wasn’t emotionally tough enough to handle any of her “crazy shit.” So instead of having me by her side and dealing with Vin together, she had sent me outside so she could deal with him by herself. She had to get punched in the head in order to get rid of Vin. That was the kind of boyfriend I was to Danielle. I could pay her bills, but I couldn’t stand by her during her “crazy shit.” We both knew it, but this was the first time we’d really begun to talk about it since the furniture incident. I didn’t want to admit that I was that kind of boyfriend, but I was.
“It’s not just me,” I said. “You can’t keep putting yourself into these situations.”
“I know,” she said. And then she turned and looked out the window at all of the unmoving cars. We heard our first honk a few car lengths back.
“Vin was a friend of an ex-boyfriend,” Danielle finally said. “This boyfriend hit me once, about a year ago. That’s the kind of person he is, that Vin is too. I got hit by another boyfriend in high school, and I never did anything about it, and it pissed me off for a long time, so when this boyfriend, Vin’s friend, hit me, I freaked out and got arrested. ”
“I hit him back.” She paused. “I smashed a bottle on his head and then stabbed him with the bottle neck.”
“Kind of bloody,” I said. “But wasn’t it self-defense?”
“No,” she said, then hesitated. “I had two guys holding him down when I hit him… and scratched him up. And it was a few days later.”
“I guess that’s not self-defense,” I said.
“He started it,” she said slowly with an exaggerated southern drawl.
I laughed. It was short, and I stopped myself, and I shouldn’t have done it, but I did. Danielle was a badass. She might have dressed like a librarian, but she was a badass at heart, and the idea of me living in sin with a badass who probably had a criminal record was…
“Shut up. It’s not funny,” she said, exaggerating the motion of rubbing the icepack on her head.
“Stop laughing at me.”
“I will,” and I did, but she still fumed, and I couldn’t tell how serious she was.
“Vin blamed me for what happened. Vin knows a lot of friends of mine… people that I know, anyway, maybe they’re not friends anymore. I want them to leave us alone, but we’re going to run into them sometimes.”
“Let’s figure out another way to do this,” I said reluctantly. I really hated some of that stuff from the other part of Danielle’s life, but I also hated that I was scared of it. “It’s not fair that I have you do this alone. I don’t know how to talk to people like Vin, but maybe… I should do more.”
“More than pay my bills?” Danielle wasn’t grinning when she said it, and I remembered how I had spouted off about that when I’d been drunk at the Halloween party.
“Yeah. Pay your bills and not let you get knocked around by other guys.”
“It’s not your fault,” Danielle said. “I told Vin to go **** his mom. I knew he was going to do something.”
With guys like Vin, if you put the words “mom” and “****” in the same sentence, you’re going to start a fistfight, even if it’s with a girl.
“Are you serious?”
“That’s the part I didn’t tell the cops,” Danielle said. “And now he’s in jail, and we’ll make sure he’s prosecuted to the … full… something of the law. And word will get out to leave us alone.”
Traffic was starting to move, but not enough to kill conversation with the windows open.
“You know what would make me feel better?” Danielle said. “Tell me what happened the first time you got drunk.”
Before Danielle spiked my drink at the Halloween party, I had only been drunk once, and I had never told anybody what had happened. It was embarrassing. I cringed every time I thought about it.
“Okay,” I said. I didn’t want to do it, but since Danielle had gotten punched in the head and had shared some information about her past with me, maybe we were past keeping secrets from each other.
“I was at a toga party in a frat house,” I said. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I was drunk and being an asshole, I guess. I stripped down to my underwear, wrapped a bed sheet around me without anybody’s permission, and climbed onto the roof, and shouted ‘I am Spartacus!’ about fifty times, and then cussed out everybody because they didn’t laugh. I’m lucky I didn’t fall off the roof, and I’m lucky I didn’t get punched out.”
“That’s your secret?” Danielle said.
I shrugged. “If you’d been there, you would have smashed a bottle on my head.”
Danielle was quiet for a moment and then said, “Can I ask you something?”
I was expecting the worst. Her tone was serious, and it had been a serious day. I could see her asking some deep question because I had asked her questions that stirred stuff up, and it would have served me right for bringing all this “crazy shit” up when she had simply wanted to have the breeze in her face on the way home. I still had a lot of questions for Danielle too. I wanted to know more about the stolen furniture, about why she spiked my drinks at the Halloween party, and I really wanted to know more about her job at Nero’s. If I was going to get her to talk more about the other part of her life, I’d have to answer her own serious questions about me.
“Sure,” I said reluctantly.
Danielle sat up, put down her icepack and said, “Who is Spartacus?”
To be continued! And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here. Or click on “The Literary Girlfriend” category to select a chapter.
It’s almost that time of the year, when magazines and television shows compile a bunch of Top Ten or “Best of…” lists. I don’t mind these end-of-the-year lists because I can tune them out if I’m in the wrong mood, and I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of “Best Books of 2013” lists coming out soon, but The Guardian has done something a little different. Instead of making up a normal “Top Books of 2013” List, it has a selection of famous authors selecting their favorite books of the year.
I’m not sure I’ve read anything that was published in 2013. I’ve read a couple 2012s and a couple 2011s, but I’m not sure I’ve gotten to 2013s. Most of those are still hardcover, or somebody else gets them from the library before I do, and they’re still over $10.00 on the e-reader. That’s the thing. When you’re an economical reader (or a cheap bastard), you can’t do an annual “Best of…” list unless it’s a list from a couple (or few) years ago.
I’m interested in the famous author reading list, but not because I care what famous authors think. It’s because famous authors often pick books I’ve never heard of, and I’m interested in learning about books I’ve never heard of. I probably won’t read these books, but I’d like to at least hear about them.
I used to care about what famous authors thought about books. But Stephen King ruined it for me.
A few years ago Stephen King wrote a column for a weekly entertainment magazine, and sometimes he mentioned books that he liked. One summer he raved (maybe too strong a word) about an upcoming apocalypse novel called The Passage by Justin Cronin. Stephen King (if I remember this correctly) favorably compared The Passage to his own novel (and one of my favorites) The Stand.
Because of King’s review, I pre-ordered The Passage and eagerly began reading it when I received it. After a pretty good start, it slowed down, and about halfway through I realized that the book kind of sucked (in my opinion). Readers who made it to the end (the kind of readers who’ll finish a novel no matter what) agreed that the middle got a bit long and dull (and unreadable) but said the end was good.
I was annoyed with Stephen King. In fact, I wondered if he’d actually read the entire novel. I suspect he didn’t. I’m not sure he had the time back then. King was writing a bunch of books, and his columns for the weekly entertainment magazine discussed books, music, movies, and (I think) television shows. How did he have the time to become an expert in all these forms of entertainment while still writing a bunch of books? I don’t think it’s possible to be an expert in so many areas. Something had to give. And what would have been the most time-consuming activity (except for writing books)? Reading books.
That makes me believe (without any real proof) that Stephen King didn’t really read The Passage. I’m not accusing Stephen King of not reading The Passage. I just suspect that he didn’t. I’d hate to accuse Stephen King of something and then be wrong about it (not that I’d ever find out either way). I’ve been accused of stuff before, and I didn’t like being accused, even when the accusations were correct.
Even if Stephen King has never read The Passage, that’s okay. I used to pretend to read books too. I just hope nobody has ever pre-ordered a book based on my recommendation (I don’t pre-order anymore).
At any rate, the Guardian has a bunch of authors picking their favorite books from 2013. I’d probably trust their judgment a little more than King’s, if only because each author had to choose only one book. It’s not like they had to make a deadline for a weekly entertainment magazine. Even though I haven’t heard of most of the books that the famous authors liked, a couple of them sounded interesting. The books sounded kind of literary, though, so I’d probably have a tough time reading them. Reading about them might be the best that I can do.
But enough about me! Would you listen to a book recommendation from a famous author? Do you pre-order books Have you ever fallen for the hype of a book only to be disappointed (or ripped off)? Have you read any books published in 2013 (and what’s your favorite)?
My girlfriend Danielle sometimes got into situations that were tough to explain. For example, Vin, this creepy (and maybe violent) guy from her past, had shown up while we were eating at a Mexican restaurant, and he had threatened Danielle right there in front of me. She’d sent me out on a crock errand to get her bag out of the car when two guys and a busboy told me Danielle had paid them to make sure I didn’t go back into the restaurant. It was tough to explain to them that Danielle and Vin were the crazy ones, not me.
While the three guys were keeping me out, a commotion went on inside the restaurant, the police showed up, and now we could see officers bringing somebody out. Knowing Danielle, I figured there was an even chance she had done something to Vin and had made sure I wasn’t there to stop her. And maybe whatever she had planned had backfired. Whatever had happened, the police were there and somebody was getting arrested.
I really hoped Danielle wasn’t getting arrested, but I couldn’t tell. From my view in the parking lot, I couldn’t tell for certain what was going inside the restaurant. Between the distance, the glare in the windows, and the people in the way, all I knew was that the police officers escorting somebody from the back of the restaurant. It could have been Danielle. It could have been Vin. It didn’t appear to be both.
Please don’t be Danielle, please don’t be Danielle, I thought.
Two police officers came barreling out the double doors with a handcuffed Vin. Vin seemed calm and in good health. He didn’t have any scratches on his face. No silverware stuck out of any of his body parts. There were no food or drink stains on his clothes or hair. I was puzzled. Whatever had happened, I expected more damage.
When Vin noticed me in the parking lot, his eyes narrowed and he shook his head at me. I was offended that a guy getting arrested would shake his head at me, so I narrowed my own eyes in an attempted look of disgust, and I shook my head at him too. We were both shaking our heads at each other when the police officer made sure Vin hit his head on the way into the squad car.
The tall guy watching over me asked, “Who was that?”
“That… was the ‘crazy shit’ from Library Girl’s past,” I said. I had no idea what had just happened in the restaurant, but I figured it was about time to find out. “I’m pretty sure she thinks it’s okay for me to go in now.”
I expected the restaurant to be a disaster area with chairs knocked over and shattered dishes strewn all over the place, but everything looked intact. Most patrons were getting reseated, while a few were still milling around, talking about what had just happened. The couple that Danielle and I had mocked for sitting on the same side of a booth were by the bar now, watching me with sad eyes. That kind of worried me. I picked up the pace and entered the dining area.
Danielle sat at our booth holding an icepack on her forehead, and several wait staff stood around while the remaining police officer her asked her questions. I saw her nod and speak quietly. Her glasses were on the table next to our copy of Pride and Prejudice. Even though Danielle was usually confident (maybe too confident) and loud, now she seemed physically small and vulnerable. I stood still, unsure what to do. Something had happened to Danielle. Whatever it was, I should have been there. I had a vague sense of what had gone on, and I felt guilty.
“What happened?” I asked cautiously.
“Vin hit me,” Danielle said.
“And?” I asked. There had to be more to the story.
“I fell down.”
I probably appeared to be a horrible boyfriend (and maybe I was). I should have been beyond furious that a guy had punched out my girlfriend, but I stood there almost emotionless. Yeah, I was a monotone guy, but still, I had to have a better reaction than nothing. I was relieved that she had only been punched. I had expected a knockdown, drag-out brawl with “crazy shit” woman, and instead I watched quiet, vulnerable Library Girl hold an ice pack on her head. Internally, I was relieved, but I couldn’t act relieved. I had to act outraged. And I wasn’t a good actor.
“Oh my God!” I said, trying to put inflection into my monotone voice. “Are you okay?” Right then, I knew that was a stupid question. “How bad is it?”
Danielle lifted her ice pack to show a red spot on her right forehead. She had a hard head. Maybe Vin broke his hand on it.
“I’ll… I’ll..!” I was about to make some vague threat about what I’d do to the guy who had hit my girlfriend and was already arrested, but I was a skinny guy, and I didn’t carry myself like a fighter, and I had a monotone voice, so if I tried to act tough, I would have been laughed at, but I still had to show that I was outraged by the violence that had been committed.
“I’ll… I’ll make sure that piece of… is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!” That made me feel better.
A couple other wait staff who had witnessed it explained what had happened. Danielle and Vin had been talking quietly when Vin just belted Danielle out of nowhere. There hadn’t been any arguing or signs of disagreement. Danielle had collapsed to the floor, and Vin just stood over her, frozen. He hadn’t tried to hurt her anymore or help her or apologize. He had seemed shocked by the whole thing as well. After a couple waiters pushed him away from Danielle, Vin had just sat down at a table and waited for the police.
Once they were done explaining, Danielle got up, put her arms around my waist, and guided me back to the booth. We sat on the same side this time, and Danielle answered a few more questioned from the police officer.
“This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t sent me out for the bag,” I said after the last officer left. This was for the benefit of the witnesses. I wanted them to know why I had been wasting time in the parking lot instead of defending my vulnerable girlfriend from an assault. “The next time I tell you that you didn’t leave your bag in the car, you should believe me.”
“You didn’t see it?” Danielle said, a hint of annoyance in her voice. “It’s under the seat.”
“I checked under the seat.”
“You didn’t check good enough.”
“How do you check good enough?” I asked. “You either check, or you don’t check. And I checked, and it wasn’t there.”
“You didn’t… check… good enough!”
I realized I was pushing it by arguing with a girlfriend who’d just been punched out in public.
“We’ll check again when we get back,” I said.
An older lady on the wait staff, probably the manager, said our lunch was on the restaurant, but I knew that what had happened wasn’t their fault (it was partially Danielle’s, I was certain, but I couldn’t say that out loud), so I placed more than enough money (bill plus excessive tip) on the table. I grabbed Pride and Prejudice and handed it to Danielle, and she held my hand as we walked to the exit. The busboy was cleaning tables and didn’t make eye contact. I was pretty sure everyone was glad to see us leave.
The two guys (minus the busboy) Danielle had hired to keep me in the parking lot were still out there, but now they seemed kind of sheepish. I guessed they had heard what had happened and were feeling guilty.
Danielle waved at them and said cheerfully, “Thank you!”
The two guys took that as a sign to approach us. “Are you okay?” the tall one asked.
“I’m fine,” Danielle called out. “I just fell down.”
That was the end of their part of the conversation. Danielle took my hand again and brushed up against me as we walked to the car. Then Danielle turned to me. “If this bruises really bad, everybody’s going to think you did this to me.”
She was right. I groaned.
“I hope you use your power for good,” I said.
“I always do,” she replied.
Danielle was giving me her cheese-eating grin, but she was also walking wobbly, so I knew she needed to rest, maybe to get herself checked out. I was relieved that Danielle was taking everything in stride, but there was still a lot that she needed to tell me.
Who was Vin? What was his relationship with Danielle? What had really happened in the restaurant? How much was Danielle NOT telling me? How many people like Vin did Danielle know, and how were we going to deal with them? I knew she had gotten me out of the restaurant on purpose, but I couldn’t be a good boyfriend (or a real boyfriend) and let Danielle take on situations like that by herself. If Danielle and I were going to stay together, I was going to need some answers.
To be continued! And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here. Or click on “The Literary Girlfriend” category to select a chapter.
Maybe I’m not the best person to judge young adult fiction. I’m almost 50. I’ve read so many books (or pretended to have read so many books) that most of them no longer hold my interest. Stuff that seems new to a YA reader is already stale to me, and a lot of current YA fiction is really stale and poorly written. You can make the argument that anybody who has ever shouted “GET OFF MY LAWN!!” should never judge a YA novel. And I’ve shouted “GET OFF MY LAWN!!” a lot. I like shouting “GET OFF MY LAWN!!” Sometimes I even shout “GET OFF MY LAWN!!” when nobody is on my lawn.
The reason this matters is that a website for a weekly entertainment magazine has been conducting a poll of its readers for the best YA novel of all time. Normally, I don’t care for lists like this, but the format was intriguing, starting with 32 YA novels, pitting two against each other in brackets (like the NCAA basketball tournament), and readers chose which novel continued to the next round.
The problem with this poll (of course there would be a problem) is that readers are picking their favorites rather than which novel is actually the best. When choosing the best, I like to have standards. Even though I hadn’t read all 32 novels, I’d read most (which surprised me). So I decided what the standards of the best YA novel should be, and from there, decided which novel best fit the criteria.
And after much consideration (“much” meaning “a few minutes of”), I decided that The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is the Best YA Novel Ever!
First of all, The Outsiders has been around for awhile. Maybe half the novels on the website’s poll list were less than ten years old. If a novel is fairly recent, it can’t be considered best ever yet because it hasn’t been proven that it will last. I’m not saying that nobody will read The Fault in our Stars or The Hunger Games or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 45 years from now, but I bet that at least one of those novels will be forgotten by then. I’m not saying any of them should be forgotten, but I bet it will happen. The Outsiders is over 45 years old and going strong. I bet that 45 years from now, people will still be reading The Outsiders.
A “Best YA Novel Ever!” should also have been originally written for young adults. Novels like To Kill a Mockingbird and Ender’s Game have been around for decades, but they were originally written for adults. To Kill a Mockingbird even won a Pulitzer Prize, and that was before the YA genre even existed. To Kill a Mockingbird is a great book, but just because the main character is a kid doesn’t make it a YA novel. The Outsiders was originally intended for young adults, so it’s truly a YA novel.
Also, The Outsiders is more literary than people think, with a surprising number of references to works like Alice in Wonderland, Great Expectations, and the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” These references may be lost on most YA readers, but it adds a depth to the book that adults (and really smart young adults) can appreciate. Most YA books have no literary references and are simple straight forward stories. There’s nothing wrong with a simple straightforward story for a YA novel, but one like that shouldn’t be “Best Ever!”
Even though The Outsiders takes place in the early 1960s, it has a relevance that most YA novels don’t. Everybody can relate to something in The Outsiders, even adults. Everybody relates to the greasers. I knew a lot of kids that were like the greasers when I was a kid, and I despised most of them in real life, but I empathized with them in the book. As an adult, if I saw a greaser in my yard, I’d yell, “GET OFF MY LAWN!” but I’d still empathize with them if I read the book again.
Maybe a movie shouldn’t influence the novel’s placement in a Best Ever!” list, but The Outsiders movie had Patrick Swayze in it. Everybody loves Patrick Swayze. Yeah, Tom Cruise was in it too, and everybody hates Tom Cruise now, but our love for Patrick Swayze overrides our disgust for Tom Cruise, so the movie is still a positive. Even better, when The Outsiders movie came out, nobody walked around outside the theaters with “Team Greaser” and “Team Soc” t-shirts either.
Even though I chose The Outsiders as The Best YA Novel Ever, it’s not even my favorite YA novel. I enjoyed reading several other books (Ender’s Game, To Kill a Mockingbird, The House on Mango Street, The Hunger Games) way more than I enjoyed The Outsiders. But I also know that there’s a difference between “favorite” and “Best Ever!”
Readers and voters from the poll on the weekly entertainment magazine website may disagree with me, but that’s okay. If they had agreed with me, I wouldn’t have had anything to write about today. And writing about this kept me from yelling “GET OFF MY LAWN!!” today. And kids throughout my neighborhood are happier because of that. But they should still get off my lawn and read The Outsiders.
If anybody can create a decent quote or give advice to aspiring writers, it’s a famous author. I like reading quotes about writing from famous authors. Some of the quotes from famous authors offer great advice, and others are witty. But every once in a while, I see a quote about writing that doesn’t seem quite… correct. Sometimes these quotes confuse me.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful by calling these quotes confusing. Maybe I’m the confused one. Maybe I don’t know the context of each quote. Maybe the quotes themselves are incorrect or misattributed. Maybe I don’t know anything and should stick to watching football. At any rate, I’ve seen each of these quotes several times, and I usually say to myself after each one, “That’s kind of confusing.”
5 CONFUSING QUOTES ABOUT WRITING FROM FAMOUS AUTHORS
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Stephen King
Yeah, it’s funny (or ironic) that Stephen King thinks writing is scary, but I like the moment before I start. In fact, I usually enjoy most of the writing process (except getting interrupted. Then I turn into a jerk). The only thing scary about writing is the idea of reading in front of a bunch of people. I might get angry or frustrated or depressed when I write (or before or after I write), but fear is not an emotion that I feel when I write or when others read my writing. And that’s strange because I’m scared of a lot of things, but I’m not scared of writing.
“Write what you know.”- Mark Twain
I almost didn’t use this one because there’s disagreement about whether or not Mark Twain should get credit for this quote. I have no opinion about that. I only use this quote because a couple English teachers used to say this a lot. Mark Twain wrote a lot about what he knew (like life on the Mississippi River and exploring caves in Hannibal), but he used a lot of imagination too.
I like writing about things that I don’t know because people who actually DO know then respond and tell me where I’m wrong and I learn something without having to do research. I’d rather be told that I’m wrong and learn from that than do research. I like it when other people do my work for me. This shows that writing about what you don’t know can pay off.
Since this one might not be a Mark Twain quote, I chose another Twain quote as back up.
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Mark Twain
I’m not sure it’s as easy as Mark Twain suggests. First, you have to write all the words. And then you have to know which ones are the wrong words. And then you have to have enough words that aren’t wrong words to have something that makes sense. That makes writing not easy.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”- Ernest Hemingway
I understand why writers appreciate this quote, but, really, everybody with a passion bleeds (metaphorically). Artists bleed. Singers, dancers, actors all bleed. Athletes bleed. A lot of people (like military and police officers) literally bleed and sacrifice. At least writers get to sit down and bleed. But since sitting down is so unhealthy for us and causes so many long-term health issues, maybe our bleeding really is worse than everybody else’s bleeding.
I don’t like bleeding, literally or metaphorically, but I like writing.
“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”– Terry Pratchett
I don’t know. I think writer’s block was invented before California was invented. Maybe California was invented by people with writer’s block. I don’t mean that as an insult. I like California.
“All the information you need can be given in dialogue.”- Elmore Leonard
That may be true, but I don’t like people (or characters) who talk too much.
“The adjective is the enemy of the noun.”– Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire
Usually authors gripe about the adverb, but here we have a writer denouncing the adjective. Exclamation points get criticized by a lot of writers too. Personally, I believe in using all kinds of words and punctuation wherever possible. I believe in word diversity. What’s the point of having a part of speech and then not use it? If I ever become famous, I might denounce pronouns just to see if other authors stop using pronouns as well.
Actually, I would never stop using pronouns. I would just denounce them for the sake of denouncing a part of speech, and then I would continue using them. And I believe in using adverbs very often as well.
Writing should be difficult and frustrating, but maybe it shouldn’t be confusing. That’s why I don’t like getting confused when I read quotes about writing from famous authors. If I get confused when great authors write about writing, then that might mean I’ll never become a successful writer because successful writers should never get confused about what good writing is.
Are there any quotes about writing that you think are confusing? Which of these quotes do you agree with (or disagree with) the most? Which of these quotes confuses you the most (or least)? Can a writer become successful if he or she gets confused by quotes about writing from famous authors?
When Danielle put on her thick, black glasses and pulled back her hair, people thought she was a cute college coed or a librarian. Even I forgot that she cursed too much, was vindictive, and did a bunch of crazy stuff that made my life more interesting than I wanted it to be. But I wouldn’t forget for long, and I would then wonder what I had gotten myself into by living in sin with a woman I hardly knew.
It had begun as a peaceful enough Sunday afternoon before Vin, a guy from Danielle’s past, disrupted our lunch at a Mexican restaurant. After a few uncomfortable moments, Danielle sent me to the car to retrieve a bag with pictures that she wanted to show Vin. All three of us knew this was a crock. Danielle was getting me out of the restaurant for a reason, but I didn’t know why. She hadn’t brought her bag, and it wasn’t in the car, and I knew she was going to do something while I was wasting minutes walking all the way through the parking lot to her car and back.
Even though I already knew the bag wasn’t in the car, I checked so that I wouldn’t have to lie about it later. Then halfway back to the restaurant, I noticed three guys eyeing me. One was a thick busboy, and the other two were guys that I had barely noticed sitting at the bar just inside the restaurant. They (not the busboy) were my age and dressed nicely in sweaters and slacks. One was taller and had a little longer hair than the other guy. None of the three looked menacing, but they definitely were in my way.
“You Jimmy?” the tall guy said.
I paused. I was tempted to say no, but I didn’t think they’d believe me. I had a weird feeling. I didn’t feel like I was in danger, but in the city sometimes you didn’t know you were in danger until it was too late.
“Yeah?” I said.
“Your girlfriend told us to tell you to wait out here,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Crazy shit,” the tall guy said.
“Crazy shit?” I repeated.
“Those were her exact words,” he confirmed. “She said you’d understand.”
“Why are there three of you?”
“Just in case. We’re supposed to stop you.”
“You’re friends of hers.” I understood that Danielle knew a lot of guys through her job, but still, that seemed quick. How did she get three friends in just a few minutes?
“No. She paid us,” the tall guy said.
That made more sense. “With cash?” I asked.
The guy nodded. I hoped it was her own money, but I doubted it. Well, that was more of my money down the drain because of her.
We stared at each other in silence. I wasn’t a fighter. I would have had a tough time getting past one of these guys much less all three of them, but I was worried about Danielle. She had been scared of Vin, and I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know how dangerous he could be. I didn’t know what kind of scene she would make with him. With Danielle, things could get out of hand really quickly.
“You guys do this much?” I asked. “You know, keep people from going into restaurants.”
The tall guy shook his head. The other two looked around the parking lot.
“So if I bolted for the restaurant, what would you do?” I asked. “Beat me up?”
“Tackle you,” the busboy said.
“We’d do whatever it takes,” the tall guy said, but he smiled when he said it. “She just doesn’t want you to do anything crazy. No ‘crazy shit’ in the restaurant.”
Crazy shit? Danielle had convinced these three guys that I was the crazy one. I wanted to laugh, but that would have made me look crazy. There was no way that I could have explained to them that the quiet cute chick with the thick glasses and the copy of Pride and Prejudice was the one with “crazy shit” in her life. If I did anything except stand there and wait, they’d interpret it as acting crazy. So I remained quiet, which was easy for me.
I was kind of (or very) relieved. Now I didn’t have to go back inside and witness whatever was going on. If Danielle was swapping spit with Vin, or dumping a drink on him, or going after him with cutlery, I wouldn’t be a part of it. I had no idea what kind of crazy stuff was happening or about to happen, but I was grateful that Danielle had gotten me out of it. That probably wasn’t boyfriendly of me, but that was how I felt.
The tallest of the guys said, “You been going out for a while?”
I stared him in the eye proudly, and said, “A few weeks.”
“We called her ‘Library Girl’ before she talked to us.”
The other guy who wasn’t a busboy said, “We give nicknames to all the women.”
‘Library Girl’ made sense. Danielle had her big glasses on and had carried her Pride and Prejudice around so that anybody paying attention would know that she was reading it (even though she wasn’t). As far as nicknames went, ‘Library Girl’ wasn’t demeaning. It was downright respectful. Danielle would appreciate the nickname. Her literary façade seemed to be working perfectly on people who didn’t know her.
The tall guy continued. “That short waitress with the big knockers is Little Miss Cleavage. And that woman at the bar with the spandex is Camel Toe.”
The guy kept talking about other women and their nicknames, and I made a mental note to check out ‘Camel Toe’ when I returned to the restaurant, and then… Ugh, I needed to focus.
I looked at the bus boy. “Shouldn’t you be cleaning off tables?”
He suddenly looked pissed off at me. “I’m on break.”
Right after he said the word “break,” the restaurant doors flew open, and a family came running out and fled straight to their car on the other side of the lot. A few couples power-walked out and then stood by the door and peered into the windows to see what was going on. Through the darkened panes, I could see movement, groups of people moving around. Something was going on in the restaurant, something crazy. I felt vindicated.
“That’s Step One,” I said to the three guys.
I turned to the busboy. “You might want to go inside… since you work here.”
The busboy looked at the other two guys.
“I’m not going in there, I promise,” I said to the busboy. As far as I was concerned, if Danielle or ‘Library Girl’ wanted me to stay out, I was going to stay out.
The busboy ran across the lot into the restaurant, and I hoped that he would be able to keep his job.
“Whatever’s going on,” I said to the two remaining guys, “this is only the beginning. Just wait.”
And then I heard sirens in the distance. “That’s Step Two,” I said.
The two guys seemed nervous. One tapped his foot. The other couldn’t keep his eyes in one place. None of us had any idea what was going on.
Moments later, two police cars pulled up to the restaurant’s front door, and three uniformed officers ran inside.
“That’s Step Three,” I said.
By then, I probably could have run inside myself, and the two guys wouldn’t have stopped me. Maybe I should have. If something bad enough for the police had happened, then nobody would have blamed me. But whatever was going on, I wouldn’t have been able to help. I would have been a useless boyfriend. I knew I was a useless boyfriend standing outside with the two guys who were half-heartedly holding me back, but at least I was where I was told to be.
I knew somebody was going to be escorted out of the restaurant. Either Vin was coming out handcuffed, or Danielle, or both. I was guessing both. It would be just like Danielle to get herself arrested in order to get somebody else arrested too. She was vindictive enough to do it. I thought about the petty cash I had lying around the apartment and whether or not it would be enough to get her out of jail. That would be another bill of hers for me to pay.
A few minutes later, I could see the police dragging somebody out of the restaurant, but I couldn’t tell who it was between the crowd and the shade of the windows. In a moment that door was going to open, and I was going to see who and how many people were being escorted out or arrested. I was going to see how crazy the cute and quiet ‘Library Girl’ had gotten. This was going to get interesting.
“And here comes Step Four,” I said to the other guys, and I took a deep breath.
To be continued! And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here. Or click on “The Literary Girlfriend” category to select a chapter.