i’m so happy when the first book of the year is a really good one. and this year it is.
literacy and longing in l.a.is the most fun i’ve had reading since -well, since i don’t know when. it’s witty, it’s charming, it’s poignant, and it’s chock full of references to books.
that’s because its heroine, the lovely Dora (short for Eudora as in Welty) is a certifiable book junkie. her reponse to life’s vicissitudes (such as her failing marriage, dysfunctional childhood, and unemployment) is to “go on a book bender that can last for days.” she barricades herself in a tiny l.a. apartment, disconnects all communication devices, and “gathers every book she has been meaning to read or re-read.” here she can remain for days, lost in the fictional worlds of her favorite characters, which could be anyone from huck finn to anna karenina.
dora’s love affair with books is sensual and all consuming, unlike her relationships with people, which tend to become haphazard and temporary. “i have this fantasy book club in my mind where other people feel as passionately as i do about reading. as if it were a really good kiss. the sheer pleasure and intimacy of having a relationship with a novelist and all the characters is transcendent.”
in one delicious passage, reminiscent of kevin costner’s definition of a kiss from the movie bull durham, dora expounds on her love of the literary. “i like stories about lovers, seduction, sex, marriage, violence murder, dreams, and death, and also stories that focus on the family and all its dysfunction. i love writers who make their women characters independent, smart, and courageous, but also passionate and romantic. i love plots about bitter old men and women who turn all mushy for the love of a child. i love writers who focus on women who reach middle age and ask ‘now what?’ or lonely disappointed women who live in suburbia and can’t get out, or authors who write about the pain of growing up, searching for identity. but most of all i love books about spontaneous love affairs that go wrong, or veer of into uncharted territory. it’s the sudden twists of fate that i like, and the unexpected outcomes. doesn’t everyone?”
whew. (breathing deeply and wiping the sweat from my brow.)
in literacy and longing in l.a., authors jennifer kaufman and karen mack appeal to the unashamed bibliophile (like me), and dora becomes our spokesperson. accompanying her on her journey are a delightful assortment of characters, including her best friend (a female teamster!), a perky six year old girl, and two incredibly sexy men.
alas, books and romance don’t always mix perfectly, and dora has to make a choice between her books and her life. what does she choose?
read the book and see.
jennifer kaufman and karen mack
copyright 2006, by delacorte press