You can either read books or have a clean house.
Or you can have neither.
But you certainly cannot have both
unless there are servants and/or a small inheritance.
I just finished blowing through Frank McCourt's trio of memoirs (Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man), and boy is my house a mess. Come to think of it, I'm a little depressed, too. . I must follow the lead of Ernesto and remember that one must get organized if one is to pull out of a tropical depression and become a proper hurricane.
But I digress.
The McCourt books are engaging to say the least. And they're irresistible if you're procrastinating on something distasteful.
His first book reads as if it HAD to be written. The followups feel like they required a certain amount of effort.
But not so much effort that McCourt and his editors were able to remove all the inaccuracies and anachronisms.
On the left inner book jacket for 'Tis it says the charming Irishman with the strange manner of his father returned to the US in 1953. On the right inner book jacket it says the writer with black teeth and two eyes like piss holes in the snow returned in 1949. Well, which is it? And who missed this obvious discrepancy -- and do they still have a job?
I bet it was a man.
Near the beginning of 'Tis, McCourt writes about his first landlady, a Scandinavian who is always bemoaning the loss of her late husband. Apparently he had been ill for some time but it was the TV that killed him. Huh? In 1949? Or was it 53? Hello! Either way, TV sets weren't easily available in America until the mid to late-1950's. But McCourt implies that the man has been dead for awhile. Oops
And then he writes about his early teaching experiences, and how he had his night-school students write about their typical day. One of them, a single mother with two (or was it three?) jobs wrote about exercising to her Jane Fonda tape before going to work... in the late 1960's or 1970's. One can't help but wonder how she got ahold of the tape -- let alone the VCR -- when it hadn't yet been made, since it was released in 1980.*
When one reads Mr. McCourt and comes across these discrepancies she can't help but wonder how much of his truth has been invented, and what his brothers think of his prose, and why he gets the Pulitzer while that BSer with the broken teeth James Frey gets a kick in the arse.
Perhaps because he's so charming.
One can't help but also think that she is way too bogged down in the facts, and that she should toss aside her journalistic training and get to work.
That's what McCourt would tell his creative writing students to do.
Perhaps she could start with the screenplay she and Gridlife are trying not very hard to finish.
LABOR DAY PARTY SCENE:
Caca - (stumbling over) Hey, what's up.
Maura - We were just talking about how the writing is going.
Caca - Oh! How is your book going, Maura?
Maura - (gesturing her drink towards Caca and Gridlife) Not my writing -- yours.
Gridlife - I was just telling her how I got out the script and worked on it Thursday night.
Caca - Oh. Yeah. (rolling eyes). We're working really, really hard on it.
Maura - What are you working on? What is it?
Gridlife - Mallory Loathes Me
Maura - (without missing a beat) Isn't that the same script you were working on last year?
Caca and Gridlife (nodding sheepishly) - Uh. Yeah.
Maura - Oh.
Caca - Actually, I think we started it TWO years ago.
Maura - So what's taking so long?
Caca - Uh, we're just really, really busy.
Gridlife - I'm going to get another drink. You want anything?
Caca - I'll go with you.
*Ms. Jane Fonda, who is not a procrastinator, is heading up an all-female talk radio network thingy with fellow feminist Gloria Steinem; for more go here.