By the way, I do realize I have probably just successfully planted the chorus of "Kiss off" right back in your brain again. Terribly sorry about that. I'll move on now, OK?
As it turns out, if I had included a ninth bullet in my weekend recap post the other night, it might perhaps have been a snack food review for your consideration. Frito-Lay has a new brand of "healthy" snacks that they deem so "Impossibly Good," they've chosen a flying pig as the snack's logo. (After perusing the ingredients list on the bag, I am actually not entirely sure just how "healthy" these snacks really are, but that is not the point of this paragraph.) Anyway, they are called Flat Earth crisps, and a team of smiling Frito-Lay representatives in matching t-shirts was handing them out at the Stone Arch arts festival on Saturday. I took a bag of the Wild Berry Patch flavor and examined the description and ingredients. I am not sure exactly what I expected a chip made from "a blend of rice, potato, and fruit" to taste like, but I definitely did not expect it to taste like Pop-Rocks. Do you remember Pop-Rocks? I have not had that weird fake-fruity, bubbly, exploding candy in years, but upon my first bite of Wild Berry Patch Flat Earth crisps, I said--out loud, I might add, because I am inappropriate like that, and I apparently want people in public places to see me talking to myself and deem me a lunatic (Is it really any wonder I rarely meet prospective dates in my normal day-to-day life anymore? I guess not.)--Anyway, I said (out loud), upon my first bite, "These taste like Pop-Rocks!" And then I smiled to myself and continued snacking on the chips because, hello, a rice-and-potato-based snack chip that tastes like an absurd candy from your youth? Tell me that doesn't sound weirdly delicious to you.
When I went to the grocery store last night, I saw that Frito-Lay's marketing efforts are in force there as well. The outskirts of the Natural and Organic Foods section featured a tremendous pallet of all six flavors. I decided to stay away from the veggie ones for now, because while they might be differently but equally tasty, I could not imagine anything but disappointment when compared to Pop-Rock Candy fruit chips. I bought the Apple Cinnamon instead. (They are reasonably tasty as well, though likely wouldn't have warranted any review or mention on their own.)
Incidentally, if you happen to try these and decide that the absurd berry flavor is anything but delightful, I do apologize. Many of us take blogger recommendations fairly seriously, but not every recommendation can be a hit with everyone. As an example, let's talk about Miss Peach (or, not Miss Peach herself, but a thing or two that she has recommended). By my assessment, Miss Peach is, in all ways, quite awesome. She is lovely and whip-smart and wrote some damn amusing blog entries before real life clearly interfered and took her away from all of us. I even met Peach last fall, and I can vouch for her being a charming and affable dinner companion off the blog as well.
So. Big fan of Peach. That's what I'm saying. Unfortunately, not everything that Miss Peach loves is really for me. College football, for instance. Couldn't give half a damn about that. And Lifetime made-for-TV movies. I thought I could enjoy the occasional guilty pleasure of a dreadfully contrived drama. I have, after all, sat with semi-rapt attention through both She Fought Alone (starring both Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Brian Austin Green, in an awesome pre-90210 pairing) and A Friend to Die For (also known as Death of a Cheerleader, starring Kellie Martin and the always-talented Tori Spelling). This past weekend, however, while I was immobilized in the heat coma on my living room couch, I decided to see just how many Lifetime movies I could sit through before I started wanting to make terrible things happen to the women in the movies myself. (Answer: two and a half. Likely less if they'd been consecutive.)
All of this round-about rambling is my way of getting to the explanation of why I had to abandon Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, despite my long-standing and rarely broken "when I start a book, I must finish it" rule. (Did you all read Metalia's cautionary tale about how writing a little outline before you start a post might be helpful? Yeah, apparently I am not taking that advice.)
Anyway, Miss Peach raved about The Sportswriter a few months back, and because I trust the woman's opinion (and I enjoyed the excerpts she included), I added it to my ever-growing "Get at the library some day" list. Shortly before my Austin trip, I went to the library in search of an on-deck book to start after Prep, and I found The Sportswriter met my requirements. (My requirements, by the way, were three-fold: I needed a book (A) whose title and author I could recall, (B) that the library actually had on the shelf at that moment, and (C) that was small and light enough to fit in my mid-sized messenger bag.)
Don't get me wrong. This book is well written. Unfortunately, it's well-written the same way The Corrections was well written. It contains some beautifully crafted prose, some passages that are awe-inspiring in their spot-on capturing of ordinary life in not-so-ordinary detail. But I didn't care one whip about any of the characters, and 80 pages in, I still had no idea when any sort of interesting or engrossing story might actually start.
I did make it past the point where the famous Nancy Pearl would say I could stop. Her Rule-of-50 (described at the end of this post, which I wrote after seeing her speak in Minneapolis last year) says I should give every book at least 50 pages before deciding if it's worth the effort. If you're over 50, you get to subtract your age from 100 and read that many pages instead. I actually stuck it out past page 67, which, at age 33, is the point I'd have to reach if following that alternate rule. On page 80, though, I read this line:
But that is not so much the point as a way of getting around to it.
And at that moment, I nearly hurled the book at the wall because it so aptly described the entire novel up to that page. I was tired of waiting for Ford to get around to the point, so I will be taking Nancy Pearl's wise advice and not finishing this one. Life's too short and there are far too many better books out there to read. Like The Time Traveler's Wife, which I am fully enjoying even if I can't really accurately describe why. Or Prep, which I might have enjoyed more had I not read it immediately after my favorite so far this year but which I thought was well-written and enjoyable anyway. I still want to write some sort of recap of that for my own records (and those of anyone else who finds that sort of thing at all interesting), and I realize I said I was going to be chronological and not mention The Sportswriter until I'd posted that last one. I just want to get The Sportswriter out of my house, however, so out-of-order will have to do.
Know what else will have to do? This abrupt and non-conclusitory* end to one of my most meandering posts to date. "Kiss off," Pop Rocks chips, Lifetime television, and aggravating novels. How else would you sum all of that up?
* So totally a word. Or, not, really, but I am tired, so it's a word for now at least.