Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox is the autobiography of comedian/writer Greg Fitzsimmons. Arguably, he’s the most cerebral and grounded working comic out there. Unfortunately, the reward for this distinction within the current media dungscape is relative obscurity.
The framework of the narrative from cradle to his own fatherhood is upheld with periodic instances of actual letters recovered from his parents’ drawers charting his emotional development. Usually, these take shape as disciplinary referrals from teachers and deeply-offended entertainment venues.
The underlying thread of the book is the predestiny of being a hard-living Boston Irish Catholic. While felling his friends and family, ultimately, “Fitzdog” breaks the cycle.
This book is written by a dog. Granted, a very special dog — a golden retriever named Trixie. And even though Trixie passed away in 2007, she is still, remarkably, writing books. Of course, it probably helps that she was owned by bestselling author Dean Koontz, who may still have a little something to do with her success. In fact, Koontz states that the Trixie page on his website is one of the most visited features.
Trixie has inspired several books, including A Big Little Life, in which Koontz wrote about his relationship with his beloved pet. But she’s also inspired some new children’s books, such as I Trixie, Who Is Dog , the rights to which have recently been purchased in order to create a new family comedy show. But her speciality is definitely books such as Life is Good or Bliss to You, which are written in dog-speak, as is if Trixie is narrating the story. Though for the most part, this is utterly charming, I’ll warn any ex-English teachers out there (myself included) that dogs apparently do not always use correct syntax. Still, the book is warm, funny, inspirational and short –you can easily find bliss in one short sitting — making it an ideal gift for dog-lovers come Christmas time.
One other reason to support these books: since Trixie originally served as a Canine Companions for Independence (before she went to live with Dean and Gerda) all royalties are donated to this organization.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until recently, I had no idea that the movie The Princess Bride was a book first. So this is one of those rare instances where I saw the movie before I read the book. Typically that hinders my enjoyment of the book, but I can solidly say that this wasn’t the case with The Princess Bride.
Everyone knows how the movie The Princess Bride goes: Buttercup realizes she loves the farmboy Westley just as he is about to leave the country to make a name and fortune for himself. After receiving word that he is dead, and knowing she will never love again, she agrees to marry the dreadful Prince Humperdink. When Buttercup is kidnapped shortly after the announcement of their engagement, the story pushes forward with adventure, romance, and many surprises and beloved characters along the way. It’s fun, romantic, and easily quotable. I know I’m not the only person who at any mention of the movie must say, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
I’m happy to say that even though I saw the movie first, I found the book The Princess Bride by William Goldman even more enjoyable. The movie followed the book’s plot very closely, but the book has lots of valuable extra detail and backstory that you miss out on in the movie. The book also included many fun little asides by the author, who wrote the book as though it’s an abridgement of a classic tale. His little notes peppered in about what parts were so dreadful he had to cut them out and what happened when the original tale was read to him as a child made the book such a fun read that I couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a book with a little bit of everything (humor, adventure, sword fights, romance, and so much more), I highly recommend checking out this book and then watching the very faithful film adaptation.
submitted by Sarah W.
After the quickest courtship on record and one year of marriage, lonely Andie left workaholic North in Maybe This Time by Jennifer Cruise. Ten years later, she comes back with unwelcome news: she’s marrying someone who will appreciate her.
North wants Andie to be happy, so he stalls her by offering her a job while he investigates the new fiancé. She hasn’t touched any of her alimony, but maybe she’ll accept a paycheck. Besides, he really does need her help taking care of his recently orphaned niece and nephew, who have driven off every caretaker he’s found for them since the mysterious death of their aunt. And who knows…maybe this time she’ll stay.
Andie agrees to move into the remote and crumbling Archer House and prepare the kids to move into less Gothic surroundings. Two weeks, tops, and she’ll be planning her wedding to a man who won’t let her down. But when two implacable remnants, a nympho ghost and a soulless investigative reporter threaten her and the kids she’s starting to call her own, who’s she gonna call?
All signs point North…
Every night before bed, I try to catch the newest episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. So I was surprised and excited when I saw that one of my favorite Daily Show correspondents, Samantha Bee, had just come out with a book of humorous essays about her life. In her new book I Know I Am, But What Are You?, Bee covers everything from her upbringing by her Wiccan mother to teaching her friends about the birds and the bees using her Barbie dolls to trying to come up with the perfect gift for her husband and failing miserably. I was reading this book on a road trip to Chicago and found myself laughing out loud and sharing passages with my sister and husband, who couldn’t help but laugh out loud themselves, particularly at the passage where she described her son wanting to put the family cat in his mouth in order “to be kept safe forever in a protective human boy suit.”
Though she stays out of the realm of political humor that she is famous for on The Daily Show, Bee has no problem finding hilarious situations in her own life to write about. One of my favorites is her story of how she met her husband, fellow Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones: they were both in a traveling stage production of the childrens cartoon Sailor Moon, complete with anime-style outfits and a lot of very displeased children in the audience. You don’t have to be a fan of The Daily Show to enjoy this book; you just have to be looking for a good laugh.
As soon as I discovered that the first chapter of Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake was about her collection of plastic ponies, all gifted to her by past boyfriends, I knew I was in for a random and hilarious read. The book is a collection of humorous essays about Crosley’s life, including everything including her quest to find out the true meaning behind her name, starring as Mary in the camp Christmas play despite the fact that she’s Jewish, and her brief stint as a vegan.
Crosley’s essays are witty and relatable. I know that as a child of the ’90s, I appreciated her chapter-long ode to the computer game Oregon Trail. Because really, didn’t we all watch our oxen die as we tried to ford the river? Though some of the essays didn’t seem to go anywhere and forced me to do a bit of skimming, for the most part the book is very entertaining. One of my favorites was the story of her first real grown-up job in publishing and the suddenly evil boss she had to deal with. Her solution? Decorate a giant sugar cookie in the image of the boss’ face and give it to her. If you’re looking for a good laugh, Sloane Crosley’s book is for you.
Here it is, the hot book of the summer! A sensation in England, the movie adaptation, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, is already in pre-production and is scheduled to hit the local multi-plex in 2011. Just published in the US, One Day by David Nicholls doesn’t disappoint.
Emma and Dexter meet on July 15, 1988, the day they’re graduating from university. While there’s an instant connection between them, they go their separate ways the next day. For the next 20 years on the anniversary of their first meeting, we take a look at their lives, how they’ve grown and changed (or not), the mistakes they’ve made and their triumphs. Through it all, they remain best friends, turning to each other in good times and bad, weathering disappointments and a falling-out. Dexter becomes a tv presenter, slips into a black hole of alcohol abuse and drugs and struggles to right himself. Emma endures dead-end jobs and unhealthy relationships until finally realizing her dream of becoming an author. The constant in each of their lives is the other, an extraordinary friendship that transcends time and distance. Finally, in the end, the true significance of July 15 is revealed.
Witty, thoughtful, somber, quirky, hilarious – this is a story that will bring you to tears and also make you laugh out loud. That movie has a lot to live up to.
My favorite audiobook is NPR Funniest Driveway Moments. The premise, of course, is that you’ll be sitting in your driveway in order to finish listening to the story. I don’t know about that but I did sit at a red light on 4th Street laughing helplessly while Scott Simon interviewed the outrageous Dame Edna (aka Barry Humphries).
As far as I’m concerned, you can’t ask more than that of an audiobook. Goodbye road-rage, goodbye work stress. By the time you get home, you’re relaxed and serene.
All the NPR compilations are reliably good listening due to the fact that they are scripted and edited by consummate professionals. If you are a fan at all of public radio, you’ll appreciate the skilled interviewing and marvelous voices of Susan Stamberg, Robert Siegel, Renee Montagne and, of course, the great Scott Simon.
Size 12 is Not Fat and Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot, are the first two books featuring former teen queen and singing sensation Heather Wells. Through an unfortunate series of events, Heather’s days of singing in shopping malls have come to a halt. Her bad luck includes a mother who ran off with her entire fortune to Argentina and her father who currently resides in prison. To get back on her feet she takes a job at the fictional New York College as the resident assistant in Fisher Hall, which is also known as “Death Dorm.” In each of these mysteries, Heather plays an amateur sleuth and assistant to her landlord who, conveniently, is a private investigator and the two team up to solve the crimes that take place in Fisher Hall.
Whether she is trying to find out if her female residents are truly elevator surfing (or being thrown to their deaths) or attempting to seek out the wealthy New York College students who killed the star cheerleader for knowing too much, Heather Wells is a likeable character whose escapades will keep you laughing and guessing. The third book featuring Heather Wells, Big Boned, completes this series. Meg Cabot’s mysteries are full of humor, mayhem, murder and a little romance too.
Authors and publishers aren’t fools. It was a cold and calculated move. When those drafts were turned in over half a year ago – long before they warmed up the presses – they knew what you were going to do once you put away the winter wardrobe. Folks are starting to think about getting the heck out of dodge, and along with gas prices is a rising need to clutch a bestseller…in a hammock, passenger seat, or an audiobook blasting out of your center console.
That was kind of a roundabout way of pointing out it probably wasn’t a coincidence that several heavy hitters are dropping in June. Reserve them now.
Eric Van Lustbader — Bourne Objective
James Patterson — Private
Janet Evanovich — Sizzling Sixteen
Laurell K. Hamilton — Bullet
Dean Koontz — Frankenstein: Lost Souls