Saturday, May 23, 2009

In Stereo Where Available


Why not pick up a book because of its title? Of course, the selection may be made easier if you know the author. I met Becky Anderson (who is now writing under another name) a year or two ago, and I had sent congratulations when she announced to The Internet Writing Workshop that In Stereo Where Available had been published.

But that was the extent of our e-acquaintance until my own book hit the stores and I joined Facebook in an attempt to promote it. Since then we've exchanged several messages about "the writing life."

Thus, as with my friend Bob's When Pigs Fly, Becky's book became something to read when I finally found my 'roundtuit, which only occurred when promotional efforts for Seven Wheelchairs began to wind down.

I am sorry I waited so long to read -- and enjoy -- In Stereo Where Available.

Becky's book is a delight, albeit probably 180 degrees opposite of a Clancy tome mostly likely found clutched in the hands of the average male reader. Is it chick-lit, as a female friend suggested? Perhaps. It is a romance, with a cast of young professional women, but it is also a character study -- one made by contrast and comparison of twins -- two women bearing down on age thirty, one obsessively seeking Hollywood fame, the other content in her career as a schoolteacher.

The twist is that the technicolor sturm und drang of the fame-seeking twin is reflected in an almost identical interior burden by her sister. Phoebe Kassner is 29, saddled with a Trekkie-grad student mongrel boyfriend, and to her shame or bemusement (you might choose one or the other upon complete of ISWA) still a sexual virgin.

Scene set, characters in place! Madison, the tinseltown-seeking twin, ricochets from one television reality show to another, and Phoebe is kicked into the dating pool by her apartment mate, Lauren, who combines algorithms, astrology, and an ambitious foray into online dating into a search to find a match worthy of Phoebe.

Action! begins with a telephone call to a wrong number and the adventures are underway -- Maddie into a "The Bachelor" type reality show (demeaning tasks, infrared lens blanket-bouncing, and a Rhett-look-alike with a record) and Phoebe into a romance with Mr Wrong Number, an apparently mild man who is relatively circumspect about an alcohol-fueled head-banging lifestyle history.

There's love. There's sex. There's marriage.

And there are moments of insight that illustrate story in writing can reveal truths, that a person can while away a pleasant afternoon with a book that makes it easy to turn the page and follow the characters, and there is always something to be revealed about the human condition. The most memorable instance for me came at the end of Chapter 12, when Mr. Wrong Number's mother discusses the art of marriage.
"People always say that life is short, but when you're living it, it doesn't feel that way. It's one day after another, years and years ... each of you will find yourselves at rock bottom. You may fight. You may even cheat. You may say and think terrible things ... But if your spouse loves you, they'll carry you through those times ... And then someday, it will be your turn to do the same. That's what marriage is -- two people with compassion for one another, so much that each alone has enough to hold the bond together."
A truth too many do not contemplate thoroughly and then take to heart.

I am waiting for the next book from my friend. Watch for it this summer.
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