Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Someday, Someday, Maybe: No, Read It NOW!!!

Lorelai Gilmore gets The Dirt on Motley Crue and decides not to order the burrito.

If I could change just one thing about the otherwise perfect 2000-2007 television series Gilmore Girls, I would add more discussions of books. After all, Stars Hollow's resident wunderkind Rory Gilmore (seen above in the background) is constantly reading and lugging them about, both stateside and abroad, but aside from being an easy visual cue that SHE'S SMART, books (and discussions thereof) get a surprisingly small amount of screen time in the series. There is, of course, the delicious exception of Jess and Paris arguing about the Beat writers in "There's The Rub" (Season 2, Episode 16):

PARIS: A tragic waste of paper.

JESS: I can’t believe you just said that.

PARIS: Well, it’s true, the Beat’s writing was completely self-indulgent. I have one word for Jack Kerouac – edit.

JESS: It was not self-indulgent. The Beats believed in shocking people, stirring things up.

PARIS: They believed in drugs, booze, and petty crime.

RORY: Well, then you can say that they exposed you to a world you wouldn’t have otherwise known. Isn’t that what great writing’s all about?

PARIS: That was not great writing. That was the National Enquirer of the fifties.

JESS: You’re cracked.

PARIS: Typical guy response. Worship Kerouac and Bukowski, God forbid you’d pick up anything by Jane Austen.

JESS: Hey, I’ve read Jane Austen.

PARIS: You have?

JESS: Yeah, and I think she would’ve liked Bukowski.

But, I digress. Lorelai Gilmore (Rory's fetching mother, for those who don't know) is presumably well-read, at least for a person who has been busy single-handedly raising a daughter and running an inn since the age of 16, but her tastes run to the delightfully tawdry, as evidenced above with Motley Crue's collective memoir about their time on the road. Rory always seemed happy to confine pop-cultural discussions with her mother to bad tv movies and/or series, but I wonder if she ever wished for deeper talks with Lorelai--the second-smartest person in Star's Hollow--about books, or maybe the French New Wave. Oh, I know Rory had wealthy gramps Richard Gilmore and their private quoting-contests of Greek classics, but aside from that--and trying to bounce ideas off Dean's thick skull--her opportunities to discuss literature were limited to teachers and classmates at Chilton and Yale. Which doesn't sound so bad now, as I type it...

But, I am here to talk about how very wonderful Ms. Lauren Graham's novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, is. And it is completely, delightfully wonderful--the most enjoyable time I've spent with my Kindle in many months. I loved everything about this book: the setting (Brooklyn), the time period (1995), the protagonist (aspiring actress Franny), the subject matter (How much time should our dreams take to come true?), the dialogue (sparkling), the narrative voice (winning, clear, and wise). I'd never before truly considered the similarities between the working lives of writers and actors, and loved how Ms. Graham's reportage of the dreaded relative-at-a-wedding questions displayed both absolute accuracy and zero bitterness:

Congratulations, Franny! How exciting! Remember at the last wedding when you said you were trying to be an actress? And I said 'How are the tips?' Remember that? Hahahahaha! Because people who say they're actors are usually just waiters? Get it? 

What gorgeous writing--smart, warm, and funny, with both surprising and fitting turns to the profound:

"Frank is the neighbor whose apartment we can see into from the windows in the back of our brownstone. Frank leads a mysterious, solitary life, but one you can set a clock by...The schedule never changes. No one ever comes over. We worry about Frank in the way New Yorkers worry about strangers whose apartments they can see into. Which is to say, we made up a name for him and have theories about his life, and we'd call 911 if we saw something frightening happen while spying on him, but if I ran into him on the subway, I'd look the other way."

"The woman behind the glass who sells the subway tokens eyes me warily. I've been known to pay my $1.25 in small change, sometimes in the very smallest. It's not a proud moment when I'm holding up the line while she counts my pennies, but some days it's come to that. Today, though, I have actual paper money. We share a nod, like things might be looking up for both of us."

"I imagine what a relief it will be to have a real job. I'll have a regular paycheck, and a desk and a phone and a fax machine. I'll have a computer, which hopefully will come with someone to teach me how to use it, and I'll have people to go out with sometimes after work for a drink at Bennigan's, who'll tell me about their boyfriend or their kid or a project they're working on in their garage. Maybe my work friends and I will talk about what we watched on TV the night before and I'll say, 'You know, I tried to be an actress for a while.'"

This is the voice I love reading, and this is the voice I want to write. 

Someday, Someday, Maybe is completely charming, which is a word I don't get to use as often as I'd like, for anything. I would, in particular, like to praise the book's ending (and no, I won't give anything away): so many contemporary books fall apart in the third act, but Someday performs the seemingly-impossible feat of arriving at an inevitable, realistic, and satisfying conclusion. Brava, Ms. Graham--and please forgive me for being unable to imagine anyone except James Franco as a certain actor-character in your book; this was either a descriptive tour-de-force on your part, or a failure of imagination on mine.

I encourage everyone reading this to immediately procure and read Someday, Someday, Maybe--it is that rarest of things, a guaranteed pleasure. I unfortunately cannot vouch for The Dirt; all library copies are in use at this time.

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