Happy birthday to the kindest, funniest, weirdest, bluest-eyed man I will ever know. May we always consume this much wine & olive oil on all your future birthdays. (at Todi, Umbria, Italy)
'Nonsense, Molly! You are good. At least, if you’re not good, what am I? There’s rule-of-three sum for you to do! But it’s no use talking; I am not good, and I never shall be now. Perhaps I might be a heroine still, but I shall never be a good woman, I know.'Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell
Anna is my cousin and my ideal reader, basically. She’s also really pretty!
aunt el brought over the sequel and I couldn’t be more excited!!!
I was twelve when I met Harry Potter, just young enough to believe my owl from Hogwarts was flying slightly behind schedule. Without him, I would not be a reader; I would not be a writer. No story has ever affected me as much as Harry’s. His was the first that made me feel as if two doors had opened inside my head—one leading to the outside world, huge and new and endlessly interesting; the other leading inward to myself, memories and emotions I had yet to understand. I’ve loved other books, but only with Harry Potter have I had the curious, enveloping feeling that the book somehow loves me back.
I got to talk to talk about my Harry Potter feels as part of the celebratory blog tour surrounding Bloomsbury UK’s release of the stunning new covers. In exchange, Bloomsbury UK tweeted the picture above. Man. If you’d told 12-year-old me that one day Harry Potter’s publisher would be tweeting pictures of a book I’d written next to my favorite books of that or any time, I’d be like, “Wait, what? What’s Twitter?”
- The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros. So far adulthood consists of me paying bills and reading the books I was assigned in high school English but did not read in favor of AOL Instant Messenger. This particular one was great!
- Short stories: “A Very Small Flame,” James Winter. “Astronauts in Love,” Erin Somers. “Mr. Jenny Perdido,” Cathy Day. Also still reading Ms. Marvel and Lumberjanes. I recommend them all.
- Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi. I love Helen Oyeyemi’s writing and loved this book up until about the last ten percent, but then it took a turn that I found bizarre and downright offensive and I still don’t really understand why it happened. If you’ve read it, please talk me though this.
- Kindred, Octavia Butler. Timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly antebellum South stuff. It is so good, but totally wrenching.
- Bellweather Rhapsody, Kate Racculia. Okay, so. This book came on my radar thanks to Rachel Fershleiser, as so many good books do, and then I had a conversation with its author on Twitter about how Peter Capaldi looks like a sexy row house and David Tennant looks like a sexy grasshopper in sand shoes, and that’s what made me buy it. It’s great: teens and music and MURDER. I highly recommend.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets & Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling. During this reread I just keep trying to imagine things from the point of view of Lisa Turpin, who was sorted into Ravenclaw in Book One, but is then never heard from again. In this AU, Lisa Turpin is very no-nonsense and is just here to learn: “Lisa, did you hear Harry Potter flew a car to school, even though he’s twelve?” “Jesus Christ. Fuck that guy.” “Lisa, turns out Harry Potter just helped his mass murderer godfather escape on the back of hippogriff and then he pretended he had nothing to do with it. Also Hermione’s taking extra classes via time travel.” “Ugh, FUCK THAT GUY. Hermione’s cool, though.” “Yo, Lisa, Snape just murdered Dumbledore in the tower. Harry Potter was there.” “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck I’m calling my parents.”
- me: *owns 264 unread books*
- me: *buys 17 new books*
- me: *rereads harry potter*
Today I was writing in a coffee shop, and this woman came in and sat down next to a man near me. “Are you a straight, single man in San Francisco?” she asked him. He answered in the affirmative, and she promptly berated him as a proxy for all the straight, single men in San Francisco she’s been unhappily dating. “I’m from the Northeast!” she exclaimed. “Where men have dignity, wherewithal, and soul!” The man was actually pretty good-natured about it at first, and paused in his work to sympathize with her, but she was not appeased. She showed him frustrating text messages she’d been sent (“Who says ‘Salutations’?!”). The man took a call but that didn’t not stop her. “I have a lot of love in my life in every other regard,” she began to explain, but he interrupted her to point out that he was on the phone. She waited for a while for the call to end and when he had been quiet a while, she asked peevishly, “Do you have a moment, or…?” “I’m kind of on a deadline,” he said. “Fine,” she snapped. “You take care.” Then she put on her baseball cap backwards and stomped out. The “you take care” was very sarcastic.
That’s a true story but I told it largely to use the word “peevishly.” I’m not sure what that woman’s deal was, but I wish her luck. Later, a man leaving the coffee shop said to someone over the phone, “Maybe I’ll become a serial killer. I’m thinking of taking up that trade.” I need a new coffee shop, guys.
My first earthquake went well. I woke up to the apartment rumbling and rocking and said, “Oh my God,” in Bob Belcher’s voice. My earthquake survival kit is packed and within easy reach under the bed. I have so much water, a whistle, dust masks to keep from inhaling debris. I bought a California road atlas, which was probably overkill. Everybody dies, Katie.
This month has been terrible for everybody on every level, but there have been nice little things here and there. Walking into a pool party and hearing a Google employee whisper enviously to the host, “Your friends are such hipsters!” Seeing Guardians of the Galaxy by myself at the end of a successful writing week. Champagne & peach pie with my dude on our 6-year dating anniversary. Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who. Chatting with Sarah Enni on my living room couch. One of my best friends got engaged. Today I edited my second book for its US edition and wrote some of the first draft of my third, and came home to money that I’d earned by writing stories about teenagers, which is to say, all of my dreams have come true. It is very nice and very scary at the same time, as is the case with all good things. I’m trying not to think too hard about it.
I’m going to Italy next week and I will miss you a moderate amount while I’m there. I probably should have learned more Italian than I have, but in a way I’m looking forward to hearing a lot of voices talking, and not having a single idea what they’re saying. You don’t have to listen all of the time. Sometimes it’s okay to stop listening.
Mallory Ortberg has a voice like an old movie actress. (“Male Novelist Jokes” at the Last Bookstore in LA)
Mallory Ortberg is everything.