Tag Archives: Jen Lancaster

Step Right Up: Book Signings and Readings

Jen Lancaster will be in NYC tonight and I had grand plans to attend but just learned my presence is required elsewhere (per my boss).  Suffice to say I’m none too happy about this last minute turn of events. 

Though an avid reader, I’ve only ever gone to three book readings and/or signings.  Maybe I’m afraid that my inner-nutcase will shine through and I’ll get wild-eyed and start fawning in the presence of literary greatness.

As a child, I think I met Judy Blume at a “Young Writers” conference.  I have a hazy memory of this and Blume is from New Jersey, which strengthens my case. 

A few summers ago, before her meteoric rise to stardom, Jodi Picoult came to my local library and though I hadn’t read any of her novels, I went to check her out.  She was a charismatic speaker, erudite and self-deprecating, and made writing seem like something any of us could do.  I didn’t own any of her books but ended up buying Plain Truth and having her sign it.

The other reading I went to was at my local Barnes & Noble.  Megan McCafferty, author of the Jessica Darling series, paid homage to her old stomping grounds at my B&N.  Megan was so entertaining and thankfully I didn’t make a fool of myself when speaking with her.  In my book, that counts as a success.  I was sorry to miss Megan’s most recent book tour for the final Jessica Darling book–I was driving home from Florida when she had a signing in Princeton.

Do you go to many readings or signings?  Who were some of the most memorable authors you’ve seen or heard?  Have you ever made a fool of yourself while chatting with an author (or is that just my own special talent)?

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Review: Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

plaid1Title: Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase

Author: Jen Lancaster

Genre: Nonfiction Memoir/Essay; 384 pages

Publication Date:  May 5, 2009

Publisher: National American Library (NAL)

Rating: 4 Bookmarks

If you’re anything like me, you have a Santa Claus-sized ledger in which you record book titles that other bloggers recommend.  If this is the case, please add Jen Lancaster’s Pretty in Plaid to the top of the ‘Nice’ list. 

Lancaster has been likened to “David Sedaris with pearls and a supercute handbag”, and her latest memoir weaves a hilarious retrospective highlighting fashion highs and lows over the last four decades.  Entire essays are devoted to size-5 Jordache jeans, odious Brownie uniforms, and the edgier Girl Scout uniforms.  (I donned both and can attest to the faux pas that was the Brownie Beanie.)

Lancaster takes the mundane and spins it into a giant, literary confection of equal parts humor, hubris, and habiliment.  This book should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning printed on it–Reading this book should be done only in private and may induce:

  • laughing until your mascara runs down your face in twin, black rivers
  • laughing until you snort (Swine flu be damned!)
  • laughing yourself into a wheezy, cartoonish fit
  • laughing yourself into hyperventilation (as your husband frantically dials 9-1-1 for help)

Maybe you’re in need of a good laugh or you’ve been meaning to pick up some nonfiction for a reading challenge–either way, here’s the perfect vehicle!

Lest you think I’m being paid to write such a glowing review, I will say that the book starts off with a few missives I wasn’t barking mad about. Additionally, the footnotes may get a bit tedious for some readers–having to glance down two or three times on one page–but beyond those minor quibbles, this book has already become one of my favorites.

You can catch Jen on her nation-wide book tour, kicking off tomorrow.  She’ll be in New York on Thursday and I hope to be there (with pearls on).  Thanks to Kate and Melissa for the galley!

Tears On My Pillow (and Pages)

Thanks to the creative writing (and wild imagination) of James Frey (and a few others), the memoir genre has been forever tainted.  Despite the scandals, I remain an unflagging and vocal supporter of nonfiction essays and memoirs.  Some of my favorite authors exclusively pen nonfiction–Bill Bryson and Jen Lancaster to name just two. 

Why do I love these authors so much?  Their writing can, in a single paragraph (or sentence), reduce me to silent, body-shaking laughter.  Or obnoxious, snorting laughter.  Or wheezing, cartoonish, Muttley laughter.  Or I-can’t-catch-my-breath AND I’m crying laughter.

Last night, I was cuddled up in bed whipping through Jen Lancaster’s new book, Pretty in Plaid, which is  due out May 4th–so be on the lookout for my review!  At one point, page 292 to be precise, her writing pushed me over the precipice.  I was ‘silent-laughing’ to the point that I couldn’t catch my breath.  My husband grabbed the phone to dial 9-1-1 because he thought I was having a seizure–that’s how hard I was shaking and crying with laughter.

In case you don’t believe me, after I calmed down (20 minutes later), I snapped a picture with my phone (thus explaining the fabulous quality of the picture!).  I submit Exhibit A. as proof to why YOU should be reading nonfiction:

tears-on-my-pillowYes, friends, that’s an actual tear.  And it was not alone.  There was an entire parade of them streaming down my cheeks.  So, if you have given up on the nonfiction genre, I beseech you to reconsider.  Just look at the hilarity you’re missing!