This book’s kinda giving me the willies.

And I’m only 50 pages in.

Right now I’m reading The Actor and the Housewife, and I just don’t quite know what to think. Here’s the blurb:

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter . . .

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened . . . though nothing has happened.

It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special . . . something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it?

A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

This part is what gets me: “It isn’t sexual.”

My. Ass.

Now, look, Sister Hale. I realize that I shouldn’t be coming to this novel from the perspective of a romance reader, because it’s not a romance. (I know it’s not because the library cataloging block told me it isn’t. It says it’s “chick lit,” and library cataloging blocks don’t lie.) But I am coming to it from a romance reader’s perspective because it’s whispering naughty thing in romance’s ear at this point. Yet I don’t know a die-hard romance reader in the world who wouldn’t tear her hair out.

Becky Jack (the main character) is, thus far, what we romance readers would call TSTL.

Too Stupid To Live.

Also? Flirting *kofffallinginlovekoff* with someone while you’re happily married is a HUGE romance no-no.

I had to take a break from the gore of this woman’s squished IQ and blog it. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to finish the book, except . . .

I must get back to the trainwreck that she is. I should turn my eyes away. Look somewhere else. But I can’t.


June 22, 2009

I’ve been pondering a weighty topic for the last week or so, wondering why a couple of Christian concepts seem to be mutually exclusive, and, moreover, how shall *I* reconcile those?

No, I’m not telling you what they are. I ran across a passage in a book that spoke to my questions (although didn’t answer them, precisely). So I’m just going to post the passage. Character names are left out, as I want it to stand on its own without any preconceived notions.

[The man] smiled. “What does this look like to you, Miss [ . . . ]?” He pointed around the room.

“This?” She laughed suddenly, looking at the faces of the men against the golden sunburst of rays filling the great windows. “This looks like . . . You know, I never hoped to see any of you again, I wondered at times how much I’d give for just one more glimpse or one more word—and now—now this is like that dream you imagine in childhood, when you think that some day, in heaven, you will see those great departed whom you had not seen on earth, and you choose, from all the past centuries, the great men you would like to meet.”

[ . . . ]

“Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be left waiting for us in our graves—or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”

“I know,” she whispered.

“And if you met those great men in heaven,” asked [another], “what would you want to say to them?”

“Just . . . just ‘hello,’ I guess.”

“That’s not all,” said [he]. “There’s something you’d want to hear from them. I didn’t know it, either, until I saw him for the first time” —he pointed to [a third man]— “and he said it to me, and then I knew what it was that I had missed all my life. Miss [ . . . ], you’d want them to look at you and to say, ‘Well done.’”

The parable of the ten virgins

So for those of you not up on your New Testament or Christianity or Jesus or anything like that, our micro Sunday school lesson text comes from Matthew 25:1-12.

Ten virgins are going to a wedding and they bring their little oil lamps for light. Five of the virgins bring extra oil and the other five virgins only have enough to last the ceremony and go home. Well, the groom’s late (viz. “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” v.5) and everybody runs out the oil in their lamps, but the ones who brought extra oil refill their lamps and are allowed into the wedding. But because the bouncer can’t see the others in the dark, he doesn’t let them in because he doesn’t know if they’re invited or not.

The moral of the story is obvious: Be prepared.

And, more specifically doctrinally related: Be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

Read more

So I took this quiz, see…

. . . and apparently it thinks I’m a “Perfect Mormon.”

The obedient Latter-day Saint.

Temple recommend in hand, you live the gospel every day. Like a city on a hill, you remember the slogan every member a missionary. You beat your peers in seminary scripture chase, and you look forward to (or fondly remember) your beautiful temple wedding.

The quiz purports to differentiate subtleties amongst members (or, in the alternative, those who are somehow connected enough to want to take the quiz in the first place), but it didn’t ask me about any deviations from “perfect” with regard to orthodoxy and/or the subtle things.

Hello, it asked about caffeine use but not tattoos and piercings? (And facial hair for men?)

It asked about music but not books/movies/TV/periodicals/Internet/video games?

It also didn’t ask about actual church attendance or if/when I bear my testimony during Fast & Testimony Meeting.

It asked for one’s voting record but not guiding philosophy? (Ever heard of holding your nose to vote? I’ve done that since 1992.) AND it put socialism in the same voting line as libertarian? Are you fucking kidding me???

Also, only 2 questions of a feminist bent and those answers weren’t satisfactory, either.

And there were three other questions that didn’t have suitable answers, so I was forced to err on the side of orthodoxy because the next alternative was more removed from my reality.

Yeah, nuance-picking-upping it was not.

And on a picture showing a bunch of, uh, “famous” Mormons, I identified four: Joseph Smith, Porter Rockwell (NATURALLY!!!), Ezra Taft Benson, and Ken Jennings. The rest were not important enough to remember. Neither was Ken Jennings. I suspect you have to be from Utah to know them by sight.

It also asked nothing about my willingness to proselytize on my own time, which the answer is: No. I put my time in for 9 years as a kid, so I’ve made my contribution. I don’t talk about the church here to entice you to righteousness nor to repel you from my evil. I talk about my reality, one of which includes the church, for which I have an inveterate affection. In case you didn’t notice. Also notice I don’t talk a lot about my personal spiritual beliefs because those are, um, well, private. More private than sex.

The poll is still in beta testing, though. I wish the architect had put in a space for comments because really the poll assumes too much. Maybe I’ll link him to this post and let him scream at me, er, open a dialogue.

Hat tip chanson for providing that Monday-morning chuckle.

Tab A, slot B

If you remember, about 100 years ago in blog time, Eugene got lambasted all over the bloggernacle for his book, Angel Falling Softly, for various crimes from “not very spiritual” to “sacrilege” to calls for his excommunication or at the very least, pulling his temple recommend. Eugene’s tab did not fit into the proper slot.

A while back, I came across a blog I keep a little eye on and had commented just to clarify a point. Yesterday I noticed that “Anonymous” had chastised me for acknowledging that my book is filthy (it is) and for dropping the F-bomb in the first line of the story. The chastisement was something along the lines of, “You call that quality Mormon fiction”?

::gallic shrug::

Well, A) “quality” was used in terms of how well the book is designed by the publisher and how well it is constructed by Lightning Source and B) I don’t consider it Mormon fiction.

People have different tastes. Nice, sweet, nearly conflict-less LDS fiction wasn’t cutting the mustard for me with regard to sparkle and (dare I say it?) lust (which doesn’t have to be consummated, but could we acknowledge its existence?). Fiction by Mormon authors out in the wild might be my brand of wild but it’s short on philosophy and faith. Genre romance of any stripe, inspirational to erotica, suffers the same lack of one for the other, so it’s not us. It’s a general lack of crossover between faith and sex.

Slot B47c&&2kd existed, but there was no correlating Tab A47c&&2kd to put in it.

I, Random Reader, wanted my slot filled. I’ve been wanting it filled for a long time. And it remained empty, growing cobwebs. I wasn’t writing it, either, because I wanted to “get” published and you don’t “get” published with a mixture like that.

So I said, “Fuck it. I’ll write what I want.”

As far as I know, I only have 1 (count ’em, ONE) LDS reader who’s managed to get past the first page. That’s okay, too. I probably made a mistake in vaguely hoping I could find a small audience amongst my own who, like me, wanted something titillating and faith-affirming (er, maybe) at the same time. Or, at the very least, not anti.

What I didn’t expect was the positive reaction from non-members who found my portrayal of us as human and extremely fallible, struggling with matters of faith and sexuality, as sympathetic and relatable—and who found the addition of faith to these people’s lives just another layer of their personalities.

Eh, don’t get me wrong. Plenty of people haven’t liked it also, for various reasons including the politics and my prose style and the fact that my characters aren’t, well, very likable at times. But…I don’t like everybody else’s books, either, so no harm, no foul. Regardless of all that, though, who liked it, who didn’t, why or whatever, the fact of the matter was that for this consumer, the market had an empty slot. So I carved out my own tab. And lo and behold! I’m not the only one who liked the shape and size of that tab.

All the foregoing is to say that this past weekend, I was blessed to brainstorm projects with two religious types (one protestant, one Catholic and independent of each other) who also like the s(t)eamier side of genre romance. It doesn’t hurt that I love these two writers’ work already, but these two projects are so outside their creators’ norms AND they are outside of, well, everybody’s norms. And I love them for it. I would never have thought of these two ideas, but these ladies did and their tab fit my slot.

Now, ladies, hurry up and finish those things. I know this publisher, see…