Dissonant Reading List, cont./I Know How to Be Single

Continuing with my new pattern of reading two extremely dissonant authors at once (two weeks ago: bell hooks and Harriet Beecher Stowe), by my beside at the moment: Toni Morrison and Liz Tuccillo.

You may think you haven’t heard of Liz Tuccillo, but I’m sure you’ve read her. She was a writer for “Sex and the City” and co-author of the horrible, infuriating and kinda briliant book that became the merely horrible and infuriating movie “He’s Just Not That Into You.” (For years, by the way, I refused to read the book because it threatened to disturb my general belief/coping mechanism that he is totally into me, just totally undatable; it didn’t.)

Anyway, that’s not the book I’m reading. A few years ago she wrote this novel called How to Be Single. Yes, it’s a novel–a fact that I did not let slip by anyone in an approximately two-mile radius while I was reading it. That and the fact that I had gotten it at work–we’re always getting free books at work, I explained–and that I would never have picked it up otherwise. Just in case, I removed the book jacket while reading it on the Metro.

None of which was very helpful when, during this time, a man I was on a second date with asked about my current reading material and I lacked the creativity to lie. There wasn’t a third date, and I’m sure it was related. (I am certain, after all, that he was into me).

Back to the present, in which I don’t go on dates but read about people who do.

This is at least the third time that I’ve read Beloved for an English class, and there’s no doubt that it gets more incredible with each read. Which is probably true of most Great Books–but I wouldn’t know, because I never indulge in re-reading them. Almost as inflated as my Anxiety About Finding a Boyfriend, it turns out, is my Anxiety About Reading Everything I Must Read.

Revisiting Beloved caused me to realize how tragic this is, and led me to pick up something else I’ve already read. I’m going to blame that I wound up at Liz Tuccillo on the fact that we all require balance–especially when we are in graduate school and overworked. I’ll get back to bell hooks, I promise.

And now that I can no longer earnestly attempt to hide how much I think about this topic–we’re past the point of a book jacket, it would seem–I figured it’d be interesting to take another look.

It’s not an especially good book, much less Great: it’s basically Committed for single people–a thinly veiled memoir of a woman writer who travels around the world talking to women about how, you guessed it, they are single.

In fact, I’m satisfied just having reread the first couple chapters. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of smart insights into singledom.  One favorite is the protagonists’ frustration with her newly divorced friend who wants to go out all the time: “I want to go to bed early so I can get up early so I can make my smoothie and go out and run in the morning…I am a marathoner.” Sing it, sister. Another is a description of her response to a guy she spends an hour or so flirting with who turns agressively rude with her friend: “I was mad at him–he had humiliated my friend Georgia and ended up not being my husband.” Tell me about it.

But I think I may have had enough. I do think it’s smart, but it’s also kind of depressing. I may not have “gotten there,” as my father likes to note, when it comes to love and relationships and whether or why he may not be that into me–but when it comes to being single, I’ve got things pretty well figured out. And enough cynical anecdotes of my own.

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3 Comments

Filed under Love Life

3 responses to “Dissonant Reading List, cont./I Know How to Be Single

  1. The best thing to read while firmly believing in Twue Wuv is Incest by Anais Nin (one of her journals). You wouldn’t know it by the title. The best thing to reread every few years is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. But I am going to go reread Beloved because that sounds amazing.

  2. Hi,

    Add one more straight male who reads your blog. I found my way here through your Tiger Woods Huff Post.

    I saw “Marry Him” mentioned in one of your entries. I looked at the book a few days earlier and I am now reading it, gradually.

    Ms. Gottlieb seems to have an intended audience of women (and men?) who, when listing qualities they “need” in a spouse, exceed 50 or so. She personally had 61 (yes, I counted). My favorite was: Over 5’10” but under 6’0″.

    She distinguishes between “settling” and “compromising” (though she doesn’t explain the difference very well, it’s more assumed). Personally, I see it more as “preferences” versus “requirements.” If you already understand the difference and don’t hold it against the person for not meeting all of your preferences, the book is probably not very useful.

    Anyway, love your blog!

    – John

    P.S. I would love to live in a place as big as Albuquerque (pop. 500,000?). I live in a southwestern town of 60,000 and probably the closest place with at least as many people is two hours away. (I’m from the northeast originally, I understand how small these places seem, even with a half-million people.)

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