Sunday, April 20, 2014

reading Sunday

Sue Townsend saved my life over the weekend when I binged on ALL the Adrian Mole books, altho I think I was too distressed to catalogue them, WHOOPS. (Other people express psychic distress through dirty kitchens or lapses in personal grooming; for me, it's when my bookblogging goes to pot.) The Confessions of was really a ragbag and I didn't care quite as much for the last four books (except the "Lost" 9/11 one was fantastic), but the first two are absolute gems. But even Wilderness Years, which I thought was the weakest link, had me guffawing out loud unexpectedly as no writer does other than Pratchett. (And in a way Pratchett and Townsend are similar -- the social criticism, the liberalism, the wild flights of fantasy that are carefully elaborated rather than just flung out, and therefore are irresistibly funny.) I think I'd rank them thus:

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ -- 1600 on the old SATs, all the O-levels, Olympic gold medal, however you want to put it. Amazing. How had I never read this before? But if I'd read it before, I wouldn't've been able to read it this weekend, and might have wound up a corpse being chewed on by my cats right now, dead of sheer misery.
The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole -- only slightly less funny, which is even more amazing.
Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years -- I might consider this a kind of weird authorial fanfic rather than the end of the series (haha, Angel series finale syndrome). WMD is a much better conclusion. That said, it is still fucking hilarious. And heartbreaking. And it is the last one! There are no more! //cries
The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001 -- bitterly funny.
Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction -- even more bitterly funny, and then it gets you right at the end, WHAM.
Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years -- I warmed up to this one after a while, and Adrian's fumbling attempts at parenting Rosie and Glenn are genuinely moving. Got pretty fucking sick of Pandora, tho.
Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years -- the only book that was distinctly ehh. I didn't like the Love Interest appearing at the end, or the writing retreat, or nearly anything about it.
The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole -- more a rough collection than anything else, but some bits were fun.

I also read How to Disappear Completely by Kelsey Osgood, which was amazingly awful, like a really sour, mean-spirited, unedited, overlong blog entry -- particularly when she detailed her jealousy of Marya Hornbacher not once but several times, which gave me severe second-hand embarrassment for her just reading about it. Then the back of the book informed me most of her experience as a pro writer seems to be for....blogs (Psychology Today, Random House), and much was explained. There is a book to be written about how memoirs about addiction and anorexia and alcoholism and even other diseases which don't begin with A simultaneously glorify the very illness they're supposedly proscribing. This really is not it. Not even close.