Seems like everyone has had a devastatingly scorching weekend, and I am nowhere near emotionally prepared to talk about Season 4 of Veronica Mars, so instead I’ll just mention that this weekend I took refuge in an air-conditioned movie theater to see The Matrix for the first time and I’m pleased to report that not only did I enjoy it a lot (blistering Hot Take, exceptionally breaking news, The Matrix is a good movie!), it was not at all spoiled for me by the plethora of sermon illustrations I heard referencing it in my youth!
These two books delighted me even more than The Matrix, and you all should go out and get them into your brain right away!
The Wedding Party – Jasmine Guillory
I hope to be reading new Jasmine Guillory books until the day I die, at which point, with any luck, I will be resurrected into one myself.
Guillory’s latest returns us to Berkeley, the setting of her first book The Wedding Date (discussed here), and to Alexa’s best friends, Maddie and Theo, who happen to hate each other. They also super have the hots for each other. These two factors become extra-inconvenient when they have to spend more time together as members of Alexa’s wedding party, so they embark on an attempt to excise their mutual attraction [horniness] through a super-secret-sex-only pact to end when the wedding does. Of course, being the marvelous and hot people that they are, things don’t exactly turn out that way.
I am forever in awe of Guillory’s skill at creating characters the reader would go into battle to protect who also manage to be flawed enough to screw things up for a realistic and understandable third act conflict that nevertheless feels fixable in a non-toxic way. I mentioned a couple weeks ago when talking about Lucy Parker’s book Making Up that romance novels contain some of the most nuanced, thoughtful conversations about relationships (of all types) I’ve ever read, and Guillory does that beautifully, along with having a particular knack for keeping her heroines’ professional dreams and anxieties close to the center as well. One of my favorite newsletters, Two Bossy Dames, recently included a conversation between Guillory and Margaret H. Willison, which is wonderful both before and after reading the book.
Her next book, Royal Holiday, is coming out October 1st (how did we get so lucky???) which obviously means I’m going to tell you all to preorder it! It features Maddie’s mother Vivian, and based on her brief appearances in The Wedding Party I am extremely hyped. (Other appearances that I felt many warm feelings about: Carlos and Nikole from The Proposal!!)
How To Write an Autobiographical Novel – Alexander Chee
This book absolutely tore me limb from limb. Chee’s essays cover writing, race, love, Tarot, growing roses, money, sexuality, and a feast of other topics, and I simultaneously dreaded the end of each essay while eagerly anticipating the start of the next. I mean, he writes about taking a writing workshop from Annie Dillard without me loathing him out of jealousy, which is impressive just on its own. The whole book was impressive (which actually feels like a gross, surface-y word to describe this gorgeous book), but the ways in which he wrote about his own writing and processes truly blew me away. There’s no pretension or self-deprecation, just emotion and thoughtfulness delivered with a precision that makes you set down the book occasionally just to say, “holy shit.”
I need all of my restraint not to just list out every essay in this book and what I loved about it, but honestly I think you should just read it yourself. On topic description alone, I don’t know if I would have been interested in some of the essays, but after spending even a couple of pages with Chee’s voice I not only wanted to know what he would write about literally anything, I came away deeply interested in the subject itself.
(cw: childhood sexual assault, police brutality)
That’s all for me! Pre-order a romance novel and sit by a pool for me if you can!