Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend bathtub reading

I'm someone who reads a lot, but also someone who can only read when there's nothing else to do. Which means I do almost all of my reading on the subway, and on the weekends in the bathtub. I take long long baths. Often on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee. But on this Sunday morning I was already well-caffeinated, but hadn't yet eaten breakfast and had the great idea to take a snack (a sack of Turkish pistachios) into the tub with me along with my book (Fly on the Wall, by E. Lockhart.) The book was chosen because I hadn't yet read anything by Lockhart other than her excellent NBA-nominated The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and had checked out several others from the library on Saturday, and also because it was slim and of a one-bath size. The pistachios were a poorer choice. Delicious, but distracting what with all the shell removal, plus little bits kept falling into the water despite my best efforts, and when it was all over I had to drain the tub and take a shower to get the flakes of pistachio skin out of my hair. Quite gross. So. I probably won't be eating in the tub again anytime soon, but I will definitely be reading more Lockhart.

Fly on the Wall is about a girl, a comic book artist, who goes to a New York City high school for the arts, feels blah and ordinary and almost friendless among all the other artsy alterna-kids, and is confused by boys' behavior, and then temporarily becomes – literally – a fly on the wall in the boys' locker room. Where she secretly and anonymously gets to see lots of body hair and penises, develops a male-butt rating scale of A+ to F, and hears lots of conversations and discovers the boys' relationships when girls aren't around, their insecurities, bravado and sometimes meanness. Their humanness basically. (Plus she discovers that their locker room is twice the size of the girls' and calls the principal out on Title IX and gets it fixed. Which is totally awesome.) It's a pretty smart book. And funny.

See also: Lady: My Life as a Bitch, by the amazing Melvin Burgess for a more Kafka-esque version of teen girl shapeshifting, and Fade by Robert Cormier (one of my all-time favorite books) for a gorgeously ugly take on what can be seen and done when you're invisible to those around you.

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