2013 Top Ten Books of the San Francisco Chronicle

Of the five fiction, the one by Donna Tartt leaves self cold.  Self was excited about Rachel Kushner’s until she discovered it was set in the “heady 1970s.”  Self has lived through the 1970s, and the word “heady” really does not apply.  Here are the three self wants to read:

  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra (Hogarth):  The SF Chronicle calls it “an astounding debut novel . . .  told with great empathy . . . “
  • The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride (Riverhead):  Self has read two previous books by this author, and liked them both.  The SF Chronicle says:  “It might seem like an absurd set-up — a satirical yarn about a cross-dressing freed slave boy fighting alongside John Brown — but McBride pulls it off in this hoot of a novel . . . “
  • Tenth of December:  Stories, by George Saunders (Random House):  Ever read CivilWarLand in Bad Decline?  Self thought that book was a game-changer.  In one stroke, changed the landscape of the contemporary American short story, which until then had been Raymond Carver/Lydia Davis.  She will read anything by George Saunders.  Anything.

Of the Nonfiction, self skips over the story of The Black Russian, as she doesn’t find nonfiction about Russia as compelling as fiction about Russia, who knows why.  And though Jesmyn Ward’s book (self heard) is a powerhouse, she wants to delve into something other than “poverty and violence.”  And the third book she skips, by Eric Schlosser, is about nuclear accidents.  And since there’s not much self can think of to stop nuclear accidents (other than banning nuclear power), she thinks reading Schlosser’s book might just be an exercise in frustration.

Here are the two nonfiction self would like to read:

  • Book of Ages:  The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore (Knopf):  Because Ben Franklin had a sister.  And it’s high time people found out.
  • Thank You For Your Service, by David Finkel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux):  “Much has been written about the lingering effects of war on American soldiers who have come home, but Finkel’s narrative of time spent with these men and their families has a singular emotional depth.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Spotted in “Anchorman 2”

Borat * Doby the Shark * Christina Applegate * Will Ferrell * Paul Rudd * Steve Carell * Kristen Wiig * Liam Neeson * Kanye * Kirsten Dunst (as a beautiful goddess!) * an RV on cruise control * random comment about Filipinos * GNN (for Global News Network) * Marion Cotillard * Jim Carrey * Tina Fey/Amy Poehler * Vince Vaughn * precocious piano-playing kid

The funniest thing in Anchorman 2 (outside of Will Ferrell and Steve Carell) was a deliciously smarmy TV anchorman played by James Marsden.  Self isn’t a big Marsden fan, but she really liked his performance here.

This is not really a review of Anchorman 2.  If you liked the original movie, you will love this one.

Oh, and something else:  the way Kristen Wiig’s character and Steve Carell’s character drive an uptight newswoman almost crazy is 100% believable.  If someone who worked for you in an office screamed at maximum volume like that, would it qualify as abuse?  Do dear blog readers realize how difficult it would be to label — even describe — such behavior?  Therefore, it is brilliant.

On to Pajiba’s picks of the 5 Best Skits of SNL, which self read via Salon.com

Self loved the just-ended season of SNL.  She watched it (almost every Saturday) without fail (but still managed to miss Kerry Washington’s hosting gig, which apparently was the best episode of the season, according to Salon.com — go figure!)

She caught Ed Norton (meh) and John Goodman (more meh) and Jimmy Fallon last week (surprisingly meh) and Josh Hutcherson (adorable!).

She missed Miley Cyrus’s appearance.

The best SNL skit of the season was a pitch-perfect parody of Wes Anderson (during Ed Norton’s hosting gig), called “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.”  Watch and be slayed, dear blog readers!  Self loved the way Ed Norton channeled Owen Wilson.  It wasn’t just the bleached blonde wig (although that was pretty fabulous).  It was the way Norton nailed the Owen Wilson drawl, the whole surfer-dude affect.

Stay tuned.

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