TWO BLOG POSTS IN 48 HOURS? WHAT.
Honestly, I’m feeling more motivation than I have in a long time and I am taking advantage of that to catch up on a million good things that need attention and one of those is the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club, which is keeping me sane and helping to support Nowhere Bookshop during these weird ass times.
If you’re a member you’ve already gotten emails from me about this month’s book but in case you’re an honorary member, it’s Mrs. March: A Novel, by Virginia Feito. (And the copies being sent to you have bookplates signed by the author as a special thank you!)
I devoured this book in a single sitting and loved it. I’m not sure what genre I’d put it under. Mystery? Psychological thriller? Like if Shirley Jackson, Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock had a threesome?
Here’s the summary:
“In this astonishing debut, the venerable but gossipy midcentury New York literary scene is twisted into a claustrophobic fun house of paranoia, horror, and wickedly dark humor. George March’s latest novel is a smash. No one is prouder than Mrs. March, his doting wife. But one morning, the shopkeeper of her favorite patisserie suggests that his protagonist is based on Mrs. March herself: “But . . . ―isn’t she . . .’ Mrs. March leaned in and in almost a whisper said, ‘a whore?” Clutching her ostrich-leather pocketbook, she flees, that one casual remark destroying her belief that she knew everything about her husband―as well as herself. Suddenly, Mrs. March is hurled into a harrowing journey that builds to near psychosis, one that begins merely within the pages of a book but may uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of her past.”
I just read that Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men, Handmaid’s Tale) has optioned it to play Mrs. March in an upcoming movie so you can read this book and feel very smart when the trailers come out next year and you can breezily say, “The book was better.” Not that I know the book will be better but really, the book is almost always better, isn’t it?
And it’s not too late to join this month, so click here for all the details on how you can be a part of the magic.
I’m opening up the discussion for last month’s book, The Sunset Route by Carrot Quinn over on the Fantastic Strangelings Facebook page but if you hate Facebook you can always leave your thoughts here. I’ll leave mine in the comments. (And as always, there are no rules to book club so don’t worry if you haven’t read it yet. The discussion threads stay open and honestly most of us are just book-loving lurkers.) And if you’re a member you already got an email inviting you to hang out with me and Carrot tomorrow night on zoom (Thursday) so drop in and hang out in your pajamas while we visit. (If you’re a member and for some reason didn’t get the email check your spam filter. If you still don’t see it just email email@example.com and we’ll fix you up.)
19 thoughts on “Hello, strangelings.”
Read comments below or add one.
My thoughts on The Sunset Route:
Here there be spoilers….
When I first read this book I was stuck in lockdown hell and reading it felt like taking a trip around to destinations I would never get to see. It’s part strange travelogue, part memoir, part how-to, part warning signs. Every page opened up in some bizarre location with strange people and weird activities and I felt I was completely along for the ride, both good and bad.
I’ve read this book 3 times now and each time I get something else out of it. The prose is at once harsh and beautiful and Carrot’s perspectives are so unique that I found myself rereading it to understand her. Some of her story is so heartbreaking, but I was fascinated with how often a story would sound like utter heaven to her but total hell to me. The first time I read it every time she got arrested I was like, “Finally, she’ll be able to shower and eat and sleep in a bed” but she was exactly the opposite and reveled in freezing, uncomfortable trips that seemed like a nightmare to me but were her idea of total freedom and treasure. It made me rethink the way that I view the world and the attachments I have to comfort and security that in some ways imprison me. Not that I’m giving up Netflix for train-hopping. But like the part where Sami’s stepmom (a successful Hollywood costume designer) says she’s not happy with her work and wishes she could do something else and Carrot feels so bad for her and is like, “Who are Sami and I to be free like this, I think, doing whatever we want?”
There were so many parts of this book that I underlined and highlighted and went back to and for once I sort of wish that we met in person because so many of these stories and quotes opened up my own stories and memories and I think gives us permission to share in the same honest way. As I read I felt myself wanting to share my own stories of poverty and shame and mental illness and adventure, and I think that’s a mark of a great book…it opens you up while letting you reexamine the good and bad in yourself and the world.
I loved how the author examined all the ways in which we run away…from loneliness, from connection, from our pasts, from our demons and ghosts and memories…and how she eventually learned how to give and receive love. How she explored poverty and abuse and neglect with such honesty.
One section that really stuck with me was the passage where Carrot calls the suicide hotline and the man on the other line just responds with “uh huh” over and over while she tells about the horror she’s going through. When that paragraph ended I was horrified but instead of feeling hopeless the author talks about the importance of just being listened to rather than being fixed. “The man doesn’t offer any solutions. There aren’t any solutions. There was only the pressure of my own existence, cracking my heart in two. Now this man has it. He has grown special pockets to carry it. He carries pieces of many people, in his special pockets. The pieces and heavy, but he carries them just so, and maybe they won’t hurt him.” Ow. And amen. Sometimes we forget how important it is to just be listened to and seen and I feel so grateful I was able to listen to Carrot Quinn’s story.
I joined the club late and then there was a glitch, but The Sunset Route is on the way to me and I’m excited to read it. But when I read Carrot I can’t help but think of Carrot Top and that always throws me off, so I guess I need to read more books by people named Carrot so I can create a new association.
Thank you for helping me reach another important realization.
This book looks fantastic, but honestly, I’m fairly compelled to purchase it just because Dottie is in the picture looking very earnest and adorable. Apparently, you could sell me anything if you include your animals in advertising it. Need to move some slow moving stock? Pose Ferris laying atop a stack! I probably shouldn’t be telling you this… Lol.
I have a question. I just signed up for the book club. Will I receive Mrs March or the next month’s book? I want to read Mrs March and will buy it separately if I joined too late to get it. Thanks!
(WELCOME! We don’t mail out the books until around the 10th so I’m 99% positive you’ll get this one. ~ Jenny)
“Harsh and beautiful.” What a perfect description. That crystallizes how I felt all the way thru. Beautiful sensory passages, and then she and we are deposited back into gritty harshness. Such a courageous book. Wish I was still teaching my Reading for Pleasure class…I would recommend the heck out of this one.
Im so glad you’re feeling well enough to post twice in 48 hours. That is great news! We are always here to listen to you when you need to share with us.
YEA, you are UP, alive and sounding great. Hip Hip Love you
Like an above poster, I feel like having Dottie staring right at us in that picture is a very compelling way to advertise. I feel like she’s saying ‘You are going to read this, aren’t you? Because you should. I may judge you if you don’t.’
I’m not a member (because honestly my actual-book-reading has been almost nonexistent the last few years) but Mrs. March does sound prettying interesting, I’m looking forward to the conversations on it next month!
I loved this book. My heart hurt for Carrot and her brother as children, alternating between neglect and abuse, always hungry, with no adult to take care of them. I admire her resiliency, her bravery, and her ability to connect with nature and find safety there. I also liked the way the book was written with alternating timelines instead of a linear narrative. Like you, Jenny, I was moved by the passage about talking to the man at the suicide hotline. I found it a good metaphor for psychotherapy. We share pieces our story, our pain, our shame, with another person who will then put the pieces in their pocket, carry them just so, and leave a space in us for healing to come in. I can’t wait to watch your conversation with Carrot Quinn tomorrow.
I am very sorry I had to drop out of the book club due to money matters. It’s always money matters, isn’t it? I feel really terrible but I’m sure other Strangelings will step in. I hope so anyway. Also very glad you are feeling better. Feeling like a heel myself but must adult ANF withdraw from the book club for now. Sorry Jenny and workers
(OMG, never feel bad about making the best decisions for yourself! You are still an honorary strangeling and you can always pick up the books at the library and read along with us. 🙂 ~ Jenny)
Tina – if you have more time than money, maybe check the library for the books. If you’re crunched for both, then I hope you can push through until things get better for you.
Fantastic book, Thanks for sharing
“If you’re a member you’ve already gotten emails from me about this month’s book ” – I don’t think I’ve been getting those emails. They’re not even in my spam box. I’ve been a member since Broken. How to fix?
Jenny, have you read The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman? I think you would like it . Twisty, suspenseful, very literate…
“I’m not sure what genre I’d put it under. Mystery? Psychological thriller? Like if Shirley Jackson, Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock had a threesome?”
THAT is probably among the Top Five of Greatest Book Blurbs I’ve ever read and Liveright should definitely quote/blurb you on the paperback edition!
Thanks For The Great Content Sir, I will also share with my Friends & once again Thanks a lot.
I will finish Carrot’s book this evening, and wow, am I loving it – as it breaks my heart into pieces. Reminiscent of Glass Castle or Educated.