Thursday, August 24, 2006

You Could Do Better, by Stephanie Lehmann

Of course, I didn't just head into the Barnes & Noble at 11th&E in downtown DC and find this book. I was on a mission. I happened to be in town to meet some CherryBomb friends, and I knew that I had some hours to wait, and can you honestly think of a place that I like better than a bookstore? NOPE. So there I was... yeah, yeah, yeah, all alone in the middle of DC, in a bookstore, with NO KIDS, and three hours to kill. Heaven, I tell ya. If they could bottle that feeling, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

I searched for this book, because I read an author interview over on...wait for it... Joshilyn Jackson's blog, Faster Than Kudzu. I liked the sound of the book. I was intrigued with the idea of a woman that escaped into tv-land instead of really living her life. That sounds like me, except I use books as my escape. TV doesn't really have a hold on me like books do, but I do understand using something else as a way to get out of whatever situation you may be in at any given moment.

Our heroine, Daphne Wells, is a curator at the Museum of Television and Radio. It's the perfect job for her, because she is obsessed with television. When I say "obsessed", I mean she's really into it. She would rather be watching "Supermodels" than having sex with her boyfriend. That would be sad, but then you find out how mediocre her boyfriend is in bed, and you understand. Sort of. No, I guess it's just sad. But then again, there have been books that have had the same effect on me. I won't mention any author names here, but there are a few that make Shane cringe, because he knows we won't do anything until I reach the last page, and have time to *absorb* the story. Yeah, I guess I'm pretty sad too, and I have an outstanding sex life, thankyouverymuch. Not that you really needed to know that...

Daphne's boyfriend, Charlie, proposes, she accepts, and then the trouble starts. Daphne has to tell her sister, Billie, that she's engaged. We see Billie as an aging model, whose one claim to fame is a taxi-cab commercial that still runs all the time. Daphne seems to think that Billie will flip out at the news, so she comes up with reasons not to tell her. This annoys Charlie to no end. He seems to want Daphne to stick up for herself, and for their relationship, but she seems afraid of Billie's reactions. Then Daphne meets another man, a big tv man, and she starts wondering if maybe she could do better than Charlie. I won't tell you anymore, because that would be *spoilers* and I think it's only fair for you to read this one yourself and find out what happens.

The plot wasn't twisted or convoluted, which was fine. The characters weren't campy or surreal, which was good. The situations weren't overblown or far-fetched, which was nice. I did NOT hate this book. I didn't even not like it. I think the problem, if you can call it that, was that I felt like it ended too soon. I got to the next to the last chapter and started worrying, because I just knew that it couldn't end the way I needed it to end in that short of a time. It was disconcerting.

I like books that take you on a journey. I like to be able to look back at the beginning and recognize the character, then flip to the middle and see her blossom, then re-read the end, and see her in full bloom. I need that transformation. I need an arc, I really do. I never realized it before, but it is something that I've grown so used to that I can recognize when it doesn't happen.

I'm NOT saying that it doesn't happen here, because it does. Daphne recognizes that she uses tv to escape reality, specifically her emotional relationships. She unplugs her tv, and there is silence, and she listens to herself in that silence. I really liked that part.

I think that for me though, there was more of her journey that needed to be shown for me to be totally satisfied. I felt like she started on her journey, but we only got through the takeoff. I wanted to know how she landed, too.

PLEASE don't think I didn't like this book. I did. Really, I did. I am actually going to get Stephanie's other books and read them as well. I enjoyed this one. I didn't LOVELOVELOVE it, but I enjoyed it. If you're a tv addict, like Daphne, then you will appreciate a LOT about this book. Daphne actually takes the reader through each decade of television, and you learn how tv impacted family life, as well as how family life impacted tv. You learn about ads, why they are important, how they came to be, and how they now drive programming. It made me think of tv in a whole new way. It was a good read, and I don't regret a single second I spent reading it. I will recommend it, and loan it, and be happy upon it's return. I will even read it again. So you should read it too, and tell me what you think.

And on that note...back to your regularly scheduled programming...uh, I mean - blog...

1 comment:

Cherry Tea said...

I saw this book at good ole Wally World today (and no, I was NOT getting a wax) and almost picked it up. But I should have 6 books in the mail Sat and I figure I can wait. I just may have to read it now.