Book Review: Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie

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After 25 years of marriage, 48 year old Diane’s husband Jacques has left her for a younger woman and wants a divorce. What a cliché.

Jacques tells Diane that he’s grown bored with their life and his affair “just happened.”

Diane is a boiling cauldron of emotions-grief, shock, anger. How could her life be upended in a blink of an eye?

Thus Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Quebec novelist Marie-Renee Lavoie begins.

As Autopsy of a Boring Wife unfurls, Diane learns to cope with her life as a divorced woman.

She begins therapy, copes with her children, buys new running gear, bonds with her friend Claudine who’s also divorced, adopts a 3-legged cat, makes new friends, and gets flirtatious with a co-worker.

Diane also behaves in less than savory ways. She drinks way too much and smashes up her furniture with a crowbar.

It’s not long before Diane is soured on the institution of marriage. Til death do us part? “I solemnly swear, blah, blah, blah, until I stop loving you or fall for someone else,” claims a cynical Diane.

I wanted to like this novel but I found it, well, boring, the plot never going very deep.

Much of this has to do with Lavoie’s writing style. She’s competent but not compelling. Plus the concept is so clichéd. What if Jacques left Diane for a man or an older woman? What if Diane left Jacques for some young stud and had to deal with being an adulterous harlot?

Autopsy of a Boring Wife just ends up being an autopsy of a boring book.

 

 

The New Me by Halle Butler

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Meet 30 year old Millie. Millie works as a temporary receptionist at an interior design firm located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. She’s addicted to homicide forensic TV shows. Her basic hygiene and housekeeping habits are less than ideal. Her love life is non-existent. Her friend Sarah is more is more frenemy than true blue pal.

Millie is one messed up millennial. She’s pitiful, anti-social, unproductive. But she’s also bright, funny, self-aware.

In otherwords, Millie is absolutely fascinating and she’s portrayed in Halle Butler’s expertly observed and written novel The New Me.

Millie’s job is a complete bore. The phone rarely rings and when she works up a smidge of ambition she asks for additional tasks. She’d given only one, shredding documents, not exactly challenging or exciting.

Millie’s homelife is a treadmill of bingewatching TV and ignoring basic household chores. And her social life consists of mostly dealing with Sarah’s condescending attitude and all-around bitchiness.

Millie is stuck in neutral and it is implied she’s suffering from depression.

Despite all of this Millie is self aware enough to realize she has to make some positive changes in her even though they seem insurmountable. Thus, the title of this book.

A big part of The New Me consists of Millie attempting making these improvements, some that work in her favor and others are utter failures.

I kept cheering Millie on, wanting her to succeed. Sure, she’s completely pathetic but she’s also bright, funny, good-hearted, and completely relatable.

Butler is an innovative writer who has a clever way of unfurling characters and a plot that kept me riveted. I really like how she combined Millie written using first person while two of Millie’s co-workers are written in third person.

Butler is relatively new to the writing, but she’s definitely an author to watch.

Book Review: Wacky Chicks-Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women by Simon Doonan

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Simon Doonan, is a true renaissance man, a lover of fashion, art, and style. He’s worked as a window designer and is now a creative director at the legendary Barneys. There is a good chance you caught him as a judge on the reality show “Making It”-note to NBC: Bring back this show. Doonan is also a columnist at The New York Observer and the author of several books including Wacky Chicks.

WackyChicks is about, well, wacky Chicks, or at least those defined by Doonan.

Many of them work in fashion and other creative fields. They come from all walks of life and all over the globe. Their fashion sense is completely madcap and over the top. They’re more likely to be dancing on nightclub tables than putting dinner on the kitchen table.

Of this collection of crazy includes an interior designer whose work is inspired by burlesque, one shakes her pom poms as a radical cheerleader, and another extols the virtues of a macrobiotic diet in the age of Keto and Paleo. And among these wacky Chicks include Doonan’s beloved mum, Betty Noonan.

Some of the Wacky Chicks include women I know like comedienne Amy Sedaris, Warhol Muse Brigid Berlin, and gossip columnist Janet Charlton.

These WCs are not the ladies who lunch; they’re the ladies who B.R.U.N.C.H. defined as: B-Belligerant, R-Resilient, U-Uninhibited, N-Naughty, C- Creative, H-Hilarious.

For the most part I liked the Chicks profiled. But after a while I grew a bit weary of some of them. It’s as if they were trying a we bit hard to be wacky and too desperate to get attention. Some of them are fans of crappy writer and all-around slag Ayn Rand.

But what truly made Wacky Chicks glitter is Doonan’s way with the English language. Doonan is a word wizard, inventive, charming, and all-around hilarious. Thank the stars above Doonan has written other books. I can’t wait to read them.

 

Book Marks

1. Oprah’s pick is The Water Dancer by Ta Nehesi Coates.

2. Books that helped one writer to understand her introversion.

3. Harry Potter, poorly read exorcists, and why banning books is useless.

4. Here are some of the most challenged books in the United States.

5. Librarians battle censorship.

6. On the heels of her memoir Chanel Miller releases a short film about the aftermath of Brock Turner trial.

7. Why are so few female stars writing novels?

8. New PEN American Report on defying prison book bans.

9. Four authors on why they love libraries.

10. Naomi Klein on her book on the climate crisis and the new green deal.

We Interrupt This Blog For This Special Announcement

If you have a child in your life who adores animals and loves reading then this child is going to be over the moon over author Pop Jamison’s Skwerdlock series. Skwerdlock is a whimsical character who delights and encourages young readers. The latest book in the Skwerdlock series is Never Take a Skwerdlock to the Doctor.

“The Skwerdlock is always fun to be with, and is always curious and excited to try new things. The Skerdlock watches everything you do and then likes to try it all. Because of that, the Skwerdlock is a great friend to have around.

The Skwerdlock would never do anything to hurt anyone or to cause any problems. But sometimes, just being a Skwerdlock means that strange things can happen when a Skwerdlock is nearby. This little story is a friendly reminder of what can happen when a Skwerdlock is around.

But, mostly, the Skwerdlock is just an excuse to curl up in the recliner or sofa with your favorite early reader or listener and smile together.

And, if the illustrations seem a bit “amateurish”, that’s something Pops and the Skwerdlock have done intentionally. They both love really nice illustrations, but they also want to remind your young storytellers they don’t have to be “perfect” to create a really good story.

Just remember, ‘Never Take A Skwerdlock to the Doctor!'”

Pops Jamison’s first name is John and he’s been writing for children for nearly sixty years, much of it inspired by his daughter Tricia.

As a writer, Pop’s goals include making kids laugh, love reading and tell “just good stories.” Ultimately, Skwerdlock is a true blue friend to everyone he meets.

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Ellen Whitfield-Publicist

JKS Communications – Literary Publicity

ellen@jkscommunications.com