Thursday, March 17, 2011

The best 50 cents I've spent

Much to the dismay and confusion of my husband, I love reality TV. Not all of it, of course, but I can get sucked into an awful lot of it. I know it's not actually real. I know even the realest of them are somewhat contrived, but I like people watching. I find people fascinating. And face it, most of the people who make it onto these reality TV shows are not like us... they are bigger than life, wilder, less inhibited, with less scruples and lacking a filter between their mouths and brains.

I think it's this same thing that draws me to memoirs. I love memoirs. So much so that for a fleeting few days at residency I considered changing my major, or taking a semester at least to try out the non-fiction. Until I realized that I have absolutely nothing of interest to write about myself. (This blog stands as testament to that.)

Still, I managed to convince my advisor to let me put quite a few memoirs on my reading list this semester, and they have been some of my favorite books so far.

All this to say, yesterday I convinced a friend, in celebration of getting my third packet of homework off in the mail, to grab Starbucks and head to my favorite local used book store. It's not that I need new books. I still have five books left on my semester reading list that I need to read before I get to anything else, and then an entire shelf of other books I've bought that I want to find time to squeeze in.

But next semester will come soon enough, and I need to start building my reading list, and so this was my excuse for a little lit-buying therapy. And what's more fun than dragging a friend all over a bookstore yelling, "Oh - You HAVE to buy this!!" and piling it in her helpless hands.

O joyous time! A big bookstore, a cup o' joe, and ridiculously priced books.

I tried to keep to the "modern classic" aisle, where I managed to find 11 dignified books that I'd heard of and wanted to read. After two hours, we began the winding trek back to the register, making a detour through the evil and tempting "memoir" section.

"Let's just look," I said. "I have too many sitting at home to buy more, but let's just look."

Famous last words.

I pulled out a couple, put them back.

And then I found this:

Is that not the cutest cover you have EVER seen??  The blue concentric circle! The adorable goldfish! The title coming out of his mouth!! Even the spine is adorable... the same blue and white stripes, the goldfish with the title coming out of his mouth.

And that title: I am not myself these days.

Well, who couldn't say that every now and then?? My friend and I laughed about how that was exactly how we felt most of the time.

The cover was even full of reviews:

"brilliantly witty" 

"I laughed, I cried, I laughed again." 

"Very entertaining" 

"Especially good at dialogue, and, as in Coward's best plays, under the comedy lies the sad truth that even at our best we are all weak, fallible fools."

"His prose is graced with such insight and wit that the laughter is revelatory - and the tears - and there are tears to be shed along this extraordinary journey - are shed for people in whom everybody will find something of themselves."

Glowing, eh? Doesn't it make YOU want to read it?? Even though there is no actual synopsis, even though the word "tawdry" is conveniently hidden behind the price tag. Raves about dialogue and prose - certainly I could pass this off as a book for my reading list!

And that goldfish.. isn't that just the best??

And better yet - the book was FIFTY CENTS!!!

You bet your bubble-blowing fish-friend I'm buying! I pop it in my basket and check out, excited with my find.

Then I get home and look it up and nearly spit my water all over the keyboard, because THIS is what the book is about:

By day, Josh Kilmer-Purcell was a successful advertising executive; by night, he was a seven-foot-tall drag queen named Aquadisiac who sashayed around Manhattan's gay clubs in wig and heels, sporting giant transparent bubble breasts containing live goldfish.

Boobs with goldfish in them!! Drag queens sashaying!! Don't you think this might be the kind of thing they should at least HINT at on the cover??

I haven't stopped laughing since yesterday. I put the rest of the books on the bookshelf, but this one is still sitting on my kitchen counter because it makes me laugh every time I pass by it.

You know what the kicker is? On Goodreads it got higher reviews than all of the other "modern classic" award-winners I bought. Go figure.

It's killing me to wait to read it. Frankly, Three Cups of Tea is looking pretty boring about now, but I won't hold it against the author. After all, how can changing the world by building schools in terrorist countries possibly compare with boobs with goldfish in them?


  1. by far the highlight of my week. not only will this memory be forever linked to the bookstore... "remember the time you found that book?" or "now Heidi, no memoirs today" BUT I will no longer be able to look at goldfish without a snicker.

    Those poor goldfish.

  2. That shows that covers do really sell books!

  3. Well, I have to say I'm curious as to what you think when you've finished the book with goldfish on/in the boobs :)

  4. I saw this on your facebook - I can't wait for the review.

  5. BAH, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!! You are hilarious, Heidi!! I can't wait to hear what you think about this book after you read it.