Friday Reads: Very Long

Friday Read: Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

I’ve long been a fan of Charles Dickens, but starting a new Dickens novel is always intimidating to me, as I know it will be about a six week commitment. That’s why Dombey and Son has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it for $6 at a Borders that was going out of business in 2011. I just started it earlier this week, picking it off of my shelf because I had an urge to read a long novel with lots of characters that wasn’t a recent iteration of the “VLN.” (Also, I figured I should read it before I reread Bleak House, which is something I want to do soon.) I’m only about an eighth of the way through and hoping it doesn’t go too deep into the shipping industry or nautical instruments because then I might have to put it down. As usual, I’m delighted by Dickens’ character names and descriptions, which is making reading Dombey and Son more than worth it so far. (Favorite character names: Miss Lucretia Tox and Polly Toodle; Favorite description: “But the Major, with his complexion like a Stilton cheese, and his eyes like a prawn’s…”)

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Other stuff?

Well, I linked to this above, but here’s something on “The Year of the Very Long Novel.” (Vulture)

I read “An Interview With @SoSadToday” last week and this week found out her identity. (The Awl; Rolling Stone)

This profile on Judy Blume made me nostalgic for my days as an adolescent bookworm and made me feel like I should just write the damn book I’ve been thinking about for so long. (NYT)

Jami Attenberg’s essay on viral fame reminded me that internet fame does not sell books. (BuzzFeed)

Pete Wells made me smile during a brutally boring day with his review of Javelina. (NYT)

This piece on the making of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” brought back memories of many a summer road trip with my dad, who is very fond of that song. (WSJ)

I will read anything about New York City’s affordable and public housing situations. “The Plan to Save Public Housing” is new and good. (The Awl)

I usually save music for Mondays, but “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” was officially released this week and I can’t stop listening to it.

On a related note, I read two pieces on Jamie xx and his new album, In Color, this week:

“Taking Shelter in Loud Places” (Pitchfork)

“One Last Rave” (TNY)

And if you read “One Last Rave,” here’s Mark Leckey’s “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore” (which I had never seen before, so!):

Several Stories High: Songs From Mad Men

My fellow fans know that Mad Men did not lack for musical moments. Some songs simply gave us historical context for an episode. Others conveyed the show’s sense of irony. And many served as proxies for the central meaning or conflict of an episode (or entire season). Mad Men has, kind of unexpectedly, been a source of music discovery for me as long as it’s been on television, turning me on to forgotten pop hits and artists I’d long ignored because of my far remove from the era in which the show is set.

So. In honor of the series finale of Mad Men, I’ve created a playlist of my favorite songs that were used in some way, either playing in the background of scenes or as finales that played over the closing credits. (I have to credit Basket of Kisses and TuneFind for helping me find many of these songs.)

Friday Reads: Crime Wave

Friday Read: People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

I just finished reading People Who Eat Darkness – full title People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo–and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up – for this month’s book club. I highly recommend it to fans of true crime and also to people who want to read sentences like, “The summer brought out the fart smell of Tokyo’s shallow sewers, an unexpected stench of the Third World, which blended with the smoke of pizzas, grilled chicken, fish, and perfume.” Parry investigates the 2000 disappearance of Lucie Blackman, a British twenty-one year-old who worked as a hostess in a Tokyo club. The story is chilling and not what I expected at all (in a good way). I almost couldn’t put it down, but I was a very busy lady this week.

I have the true crime genre on the brain. My younger brother, who is home for the summer, didn’t exactly ask me to tell him what to read in his downtime, but he was looking for good books in our parents’ house and I felt very strongly about him not reading The Great Gatsby, which I hate, so I told him to pick up Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. I can picture the yellowed paperback, the same copy I devoured while lifeguarding the summer after my freshman year of college, on my dad’s bookshelf. Even though I would count it among the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read, I’ve never really wanted to revisit Helter Skelter. Reading about the Manson Family murders and trial made me feel literally crazy. However, now it’s on my mind and I’m thinking maybe I’ll get my own copy to read this summer. If only the experience could be similar to the one I had the first time around, reading poolside at the country club where I worked and also at another country club where I was a member, where I spent all of my free time tanning on a lounge chair. But alas, those days are gone.

Otherwise, I have Mad Men on the brain. And not just because of that theory a few years ago about how Megan is actually Sharon Tate or whatever. The series finale airs on Sunday and I feel like everything I’ve read on the internet this week has been about the show. I haven’t been too interested in trying to figure out what’s going to happen in the finale. Rather, I’ve enjoyed reading TV writers and fans reminiscing about the experience of watching the show. (I’m enjoying privately reminiscing about my own Mad Men-watching experiece.) Today, I’ve been working my way through Kate Authur’s ranking of every Mad Men episode “from good to perfect” on BuzzFeed. I also liked Matt Zoller Seitz on How the Mad Men Pilot Predicted the Final Episodes of the Series.”

That’s all I’ve got for this Friday. Come back next week to read more about what I’ve been reading (or not reading).

I’ll leave you with a question: If you could be any Don Draper lady love, who would you be?

(I would be Dr. Faye Miller.)

The Only Thing That I Like

On Saturday night, I DJ’d the late-night portion of my friend’s birthday party off of my phone. I’d started on my own playlist the previous day, promised myself I would finish it before the party, and then didn’t. I ended up playing a combination of nostalgic singalong songs and dance party favorites, requests from friends, and a few things I wanted to hear that pretty much no one else did. (At one point, I just started playing PC Music Volume 1 from the beginning and was later told to turn it off because the vibe in the room got “too weird.) Here’s a mini mix I made of some of the songs I played – or planned on playing – that are still stuck in my head.

Friday Reads: Well-Manicured

Friday Read: “The Price of Nice Nails” by Sarah Maslin Nir

I, like everyone else on the internet yesterday, read “The Price of Nice Nails,” an extremely well-reported New York Times story on the abuse and exploitation of nail salon workers.  And I, like many people who were talking about the piece, was shocked by the details. Manicurists in the tri-state area are extremely underpaid and face ethnic discrimination. Most of the anecdotes shared by interviewed manicurists are upsetting to read, whether or not you’re a person who regularly gets their nails done in a salon.

A lot of the discussion I’ve seen following “The Price of Nice Nails” has centered on how to support nail salon workers now that their labor conditions have been exposed to the greater (New York Times-reading) population. I read one comment that suggested the only responsible way for people to react is to do their nails at home, unless they could afford to tip 100%. This made me feel conflicted.

my last gel manicure

my last gel manicure

I get my nails done, if not regularly, then semi-regularly. I’m impatient when it comes to performing any sort of beauty routine – I can barely stand spending ten minutes applying minimal makeup each morning – and my nail painting skill level has never risen above kinda shitty. I love having nice nails and I don’t want to do them myself. I also love the experience of getting a manicure. That’s why I spend around $40 – including tip – for a gel manicure at a fancy-ish chain of salons in North Brooklyn every month or six weeks. Every time I get my nails done, I tip 20%. I know that’s not generous, but I thought it was perfectly acceptable. I can afford to spend $40 on my nails once a month. I cannot afford to spend twice – well, a little less than – that once a month. I wondered if I should, in fact, give up this small luxury.

Sarah Maslin Nir, the author of the article, also published this: “3 Ways to Be a Socially Conscious Nail Salon Consumer.” She suggests that the next time you go to a nail salon, you interview your manicurist, look for a timecard system, and pay (not necessarily tip) more. That seems fair enough to me.

Part 2 of the series, called Unvarnished, was published today. “Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers” will be something I read later today. I was also interested in how this all came to be, so I read this interview in the Times with Sarah Maslin Nir, as well as this interview on Vice.

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What else did I read this week? (And last week, since I neglected to post last week.)

Another story that made me feel conflicted, “Welcome to Pariahville” is about a community of sex offenders in Florida. (GQ)

This, on ZPM Espresso, a Kickstarter project that failed to launch. (NYT Magazine)

Emily Nussbaum on Amy Schumer’s “raucous feminism.” (The New Yorker)

Sheila Heti’s short story, “My Life Is A Joke” (The New Yorker)

Alana Massey on “The Dickonomics of Tinder” (Matter)

An interview with one of my favorite musicians of late, Mitski. (The Cut)

Brendan O’Connor on “The Mysterious Persistence of the Cronut” (NYT Magazine)

“Split Image,” about the hidden life of Madison Holleran, the Penn athlete who committed suicide last year (ESPN)

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I continue to read Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, but I keep getting hung up on the fact that she never really seemed to be alone? Like, she always has boyfriends, even though she doesn’t really want them. I don’t know. The book is about more than her own life and I’m interested in what she has to say about her “spinster” role models, so I’m going to try to dive back in this weekend and reserve judgment for after I’ve finished (if I do).

I also just purchased People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry. This was my own pick for book club this month, so I’m hoping it’s as good as everyone says it is. (It was on this Oyster list of the 100 Best Books of the Decade So Far.)