Friday, September 18, 2009

Let Me Explain, Better

My last post wasn't detailed enough. I wrote the darn thing in ten minutes. (I've got to stop doing that), and I didn't explain what I meant by sentimental books. Here's an excerpt from an article about a book I enjoyed reading last year, a runaway bestseller, worldwide.

Giving sentiment a good name
Published: Sun, Aug. 31, 2008 12:00AMModified Sun, Aug. 31, 2008 04:40AM

'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" is a sentimental book.
I don't mean sentimental in its sickly sweet connotation, but the one I learned from my friend Sue, who lives down the street. Her definition comes from the way she lives her life: to be brave enough to care.

Sentiment is an underdog in this day and age, enough that those tasked with marketing "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" decided to go with a vaguely postmodern hook for the dust jacket, billing the book as a "celebration of the written word in all its guises." END OF EXCERPT.

~~~Mr. David Frauenfelder explains things so much better than I did in my previous post. I'm afraid I made it sound as if I write and read differing kinds of material than I do. In fact, I don't often read books, nor do I write books, that would be considered overtly sentimental. I just want to reserve the right to veer in that direction from time to time.

Don't you love that line? To be brave enough to care? It's come down to this? We have to be brave to care? How very sad.

Here's a short list of books I adore, books that don't mind displaying a tender sentiment here and there:

Terms of Endearment ~~ Larry MacMurtry
Where The Heart Is ~~ Billie Letts
Turtle Moon ~~Alice Hoffman
Range of Motion ~~ Elizabeth Berg
Back When We Were Grown-ups ~~ Anne Tyler
South of Broad ~~ Pat Conroy

I think it says something of us as a society when we are afraid of human emotion.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You're Welcome

Are you afraid of being too corny when you write? It seems to me that critics loathe sentimentality, in any shape or form these days. Some of my favorite stories have sappy themes or endings, or both. I know such subject matter can be taken too far, but when handled properly may go a long way in representing the beauty of the human experience. How bad can THAT be?

Society on a whole is getting nastier. We don't revere decorum. Manners have flown out the window with chivalry. I hear they live on a farm somewhere in the country, with all the out-to-pasture niceties, such as: thank-you and you're welcome, handshakes, please and how-do-you-do's? Chivalry and Manner's farm must be a nice place to visit, (I found a photo that fits in with what I imagine such a farm would look like. See above.) Expect to meet some mellow types, to hear good morning, good day, or goodnight, to find yourself surrounded by those that don't interrupt or ask rude questions. In other words, a whole different world than ours.

Our world is a place where you can grab the microphone out of someone's hand at an award show and be forgiven the very next day because you're a big-bad-rich-famous-star, even if you have a history of being a pompous ass. Our world is a place where we don't fault someone for poor sportsmanship, where the weak are stampeded and usually the strong and obnoxious cross the finish line. Our world is a place where we never agree to disagree, we only agree to out shout one another. Our world is going down the tubes, or as my mother used to say, to hell in a hand basket.

I'm going to write the way I want to about the subject matter that I care about. I'm still going to say you're welcome, instead of the new preferred version, (no problem). God, I hate that phrase! I'm not going to let the sentimentality police influence the way I write. No I will not.

What's your favorite, sappy, corny, happy ending book? I know you have one, come on tell us...

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I've said that I thought we moved to a nice place. But...and isn't there always a but? There's so many flies out here! I hate flies! We used to live in a rural area but we weren't around livestock, so we didn't have a fly problem. There are cows around here, down the road, and believe me, they don't call them s%#t factories for nothing. We had to go to Home Depot and buy these bags that you hang out in the yard to attract the flies or they would surely end up in the house. The bags smell like poop, probably cow poop, which seems to be really attractive to flies. I pick up the dog poop out in the yard, (a crappy theme runs through this post, sorry guys), on a regular basis, but the damn things end up inside anyway. My new hobby is running around the house, fly swatter in hand, speaking in tongues. These are the craftiest, speediest flies I've ever come across, it's nearly impossible to kill them because when they land they only sit a short spell. They see me coming with the swatter. They are noisy, and they like to dive bomb your head.

Now, for the super gross part of the story. The other day I spotted something crawling across the floor. Wait, you have to be kidding me, I thought. More than one? Are those maggots! I had maggots crawling across the kitchen? No bloody way. Yikes.

The Husband came running when he heard me screaming like a mad woman. I scared him half to death. He took the trash can outside and hosed it down and I got down to the business of ridding my floor of such disgusting vermin. Maggots are fast, really fast, I did not know this. They were crawling, (or whatever they do), for cover! I was so grossed out I had to lie down with a cold cloth over my head once I'd bleached and wiped and bleached and wiped. I totally freaked out.

Needless to say, we've always been super careful about what we throw away inside, nothing perishable. We have a garbage disposal in the sink and everything. Our trash-can has one of those lids that automatically slams shut when you take your foot off the pedal, and we use trash bags, I couldn't figure out how it happened. How I came to have a maggot farm in my house. Shudder, shudder.

I've been yelling at the dogs, they like to amble in and out, meanwhile the flies get in. So I've been teaching them to move faster, don't dawdle I tell them.

So, this afternoon, I'm in the kitchen, pouring a nice glass of my favorite fizzy water, and what do I see? You guessed. THEY'RE BACK! I took the trash can outside. I had changed the bag twice yesterday! And all that was in there was recyclable stuff, so where did they come from? I looked over the trash can, no maggots, no smell. I examined the bottom, every surface, no sign of the creepy buggers. So I went back inside. I investigated. They were under the dog food dish and little plastic stand that I keep the dishes on! Oh no! But, they weren't IN THE DOG FOOD, so what's going on? I don't know. I cleaned them up. I bleached. I tried to calm down, then I went on the Internet, (what did we do before the Internet?), so I might read up on the life cycle of a maggot. And the fly.

I'm afraid for my dogs. I'm not going to leave food out any longer. I will only feed them at designated times from here on in. Did you know that maggots can get under the skin of a dog? I had no idea! I am so disgusted. I am severely traumatized. I'm sure some of you will think I'm a big baby. And maybe I am, but I'm grossed out beyond words. Ew, and double, Ew!

That last shot is what maggots look like up close. Tell me that's not scary!

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.