Friday, August 28, 2009

Yada Yada Yada

A girl I went to high school with had this ability to randomly begin telling us stories whenever there was a lapse in whatever was going on. If we went somewhere on a trip and there was a problem and we were forced to wait, Kaileen would whip put a story. They weren't whispered little mutterings either. This was full-blown story telling. The two I remember most clearly involved a meat grinder and your hand in one, and buying milk while stealing a band-aid in the other. "So let's say you're tired and you're hungry. So you put your hand in the meat grinder, yada yada yada. And look what you done to your hand!" At this point she'd leave off her Yonkers accent and wave her hand at us. The second story revolved around a trip to the grocery to buy some milk, but Kaileen fell in a road construction hole and scraped her knee. She only had enough money for either the milk or a band-aid, so she developed a drastic plan to buy the band-aid and steal the milk. Or steal the band-aid and buy the milk. It changed several times in the story. And each time she told a story, even if it was the same story, it changed a little.

They were silly stories. They were pointless. They had no impact on anything beyond the moments it took to hear Kaileen tell them. And yet those moments have stuck with me ever since. The laughter that overtook everyone listening raptly, uncaring of the fact that we were a bunch of high school kids standing in a lobby somewhere with all manner of strangers staring at us, staring at Kaileen while she leapt on couches (shoes off of course) and wielded staplers like swords. See the thing is, it's not about the story all the time. It's about how it's told. Even stories that wouldn't normally interest us might snatch us up and drag us merrily along, might leave a lasting impression on us, if presented in a way that seizes upon our most basic emotions.

A good example of this is 'Shiver' which I just finished and will do my best not to gush about. Two truths you should know about me: 1) I do not do romance. I do not do it. I am, possibly, the most unromantic person ever born. Romance itself has cooties as far as I am concerned. 2) I love wolves. I love them the way I love air and the sound of dry leaves scraping their way to earth. The way I love the smell of summer heat wafting off of rocks by the creek. It is an unreasonable fixation and one that causes me considerable pain since I'm stuck in a coffin of pink skin that will never hold up in the dark of northern winters, not out there where they are.

These truths are important because 'Shiver' involves both romance and wolves in a strange mixture of 'out there' and every day life for Grace Brisbane. I would never normally pick this book up. I've been stung too many times. There have been too many poorly written 'Oh help I'm in love with a monster and I must 'fix' him!' books. 'Shiver' is not such a story. It reached out and took a fistful of my insides. It demanded that I believe in it. Do I like romances any better? No. Am I any more enamored of the overplayed shapeshifter beau themes? No. Would I recommend 'Shiver' to anyone to read? ABSOLUTELY! It's not about the story - a sort of Romeo and Juliet ill-fated love - but about how it's laid out. 'Shiver' is captivating and endearing. It's a book I will read again, and possibly again. Which is another thing that I don't do. Sometimes, it's all about the silly, unassuming 'yada yada yada' of a story that locks it into our mind.

What have you read lately that simply refused to be set aside for even a moment?


  1. Unfortunately, I have no new and fabulous books that have just GRABBED me and wouldnt let me go. I did, however, purchase Shiver on the B&N website earlier today. It's eerie how this stuff works out sometimes... I can't wait to read it!

  2. Thanks for the review--I'll have to pick up 'Shiver'. I have been reading Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon stories, which are good if you need to find faith in the human race, but sometimes are over loaded with puns (intentionally). I'm always looking for burn-the-dinner, put-the-kids-to-bed-late, generally-forget-about-life kinda books.

  3. I totally and completely agree with you! Shiver was one of those books. When I finished it, I said to myself "I have no idea why I liked it so much- hardly anything happened in the book! But, it made me cry, and only one other book has done that, so I must read it again." It was amazing. Not because of the plot, not because of the romance, simply because of the writing.

    Tell me, did she scare you in the last two chapters? I honestly thought it was going to end in a way I didn't want it to! ;)