A Moment of Jen
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Monday, October 13, 2008
posted by Jen at 10/13/2008 12:36:00 PM

Wow. Sorry for falling off the face of the earth there. Work! Work got in the way! That, and we all got sick with this awful virus that ricocheted from my husband to the girl to me to the baby to the girl again.

So what's new? The Swedes gave the Nobel Prize in Literature to a writer nobody's ever heard of. Oprah Winfrey anointed a writer everyone's already heard of (her twelfth guy in a row since resurrecting the book club in '05, for those keeping score at home...but Toni Morrison has a new book out soon, so maybe there's hope for the ladies).

Scientists found that girls enrolled in a weight-loss program who read a young adult book with a plus-size protagonist and a "weight loss story line" lost a little bit more weight than girls who just read regular books, or girls who read nothing at all.

On the one hand, yay for young-adult fiction that has a big girl in the leading role, instead of as the sassy sidekick/butt of jokes. But good fiction never sets out to make a point, or reduce the reader's BMI, as much as it tries to entertain and enlighten and tell a good story.

So will we start seeing doctors prescribing books the same way they prescribed amphetamines or phen-fen? Will we endure a rash of didactic "and then Sally swapped her Ring Dings for carrot sticks and lived happily ever after!" books, rice cakes between hardcovers written by people who have no clue, or ability to imagine, what it's like to live as a big girl, and who are writing not to entertain or enlighten, but just to...lighten? Yikes.

What else? Exciting news about blog fave Dwight Garner!

You remember Dwight, right? The guy who writes the "Inside the List" column for the New York Times that manages to hardly ever be about books that are actually on the bestseller list? The fellow who could barely manage a stunned "huh?" when asked why the Review covers sci-fi and thrillers and mysteries, but not romance? One of the editors, who, presumably, couldn't come up with a single lady who brought the ha-ha when the Times editors tried to list the funniest novels ever?

Well, Publisher's Lunch reports that Garner's leaving the Book Review, and is off to become a critic at the daily paper. Could it be that leaving the stuffy, laddish confines of the Book Review will liberate him, and we'll be treated to the dawning of a brand-new Dwight? After all, Garner did once admit to liking Stephen King's THE STAND. His recent review of the Gorgeous George bio was nimble and fun, and showed a decent appreciation of pop culture (and anyone who can work the phrase "tune up his blondeur" into a book review can't be all bad). Finally, the daily paper has a different mandate than the Sunday Times, insofar as its critics have to review those pesky, popular books about dogs and Lincoln that the Review's allowed to snub.

And hey -- maybe the Book Review will replace Garner with someone smart and funny who doesn't make the knee-jerk assumption that "books that are actually read by lots of people" and "books that are written and read by ladies" equals "books that are bad."

Finally, Connecticut has legalized gay marriage! Are those wedding bells I hear? (Mother: "I am not getting married just to amuse you." Me: "Why not? People get married for worse reasons than that all the time!")

I think she should tune up her blondeur and tie the knot. I have already volunteered to help write the vows.
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