- 5/5/11: The Lucky Ones
- 5/9/11: Prep
- 5/10/11: The Penelopiad
- 5/16/11: The Virgin Suicides
- 5/20/11: White Oleander
- 5/24/11: Paint It Black
- 5/25/11: Further Chronicles of Avonlea
- 5/31/11: Anne of Windy Poplars
I'm fascinated by myself. Look at the narrative thread of my book reading this month, starting with The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood's totally brill myth novella about the Odyssey from Penelope's perspective with all her slaughtered handmaids chiming in as the Chorus, proceeding to The Virgin Suicides with all five Lisbon daughters killing themselves, onto White Oleander with Astrid's mother killing her lover, then sticking with Janet Fitch for Paint It Black where Josie's lover, Michael, kills himself. MURDER, MURDER IN THE TRAILER PARK TONIGHT! No wonder I jumped ship and finished out the month with AVONLEA!
And yet! And yet! My favorite book for May 2011 is SO TOTALLY Prep.
Have I not written about it? Amazing that I haven't. Prep is the consummate culmination of my prep school fantasies, and COMPLETELY what would have happened to me if I had gone. It's uncanny how SIMILAR I WAS TO LEE FIORA.
See, I dreamt about private girls' schools the summer before eighth grade, manic with my desire to be anywhere other than back in my middle school. I buried myself in dreams of schools I could never have actually afforded, imagining I could actually BE one of those carefully cultivated, brushed-brown-hair Protestant daughters of the East Coast, rappelling through the forest in my plaid skirt and monogrammed navy sweater like in the recruitment video The Madeira School sent me. I was ready to shed my skin, to take French lessons and horseback riding.
I said I wanted to go to a girls-only school because THERE WASN'T ANY PRESSURE FROM BOYS and GIRLS COULD SPEAK UP IN CLASS, WHAT A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT, but really I was just terrified of spending four more years in classes with boys who would never ask me out.
I dreamt about The Madeira School, Dana Hall, Groton, (you'll notice I was only interested in girls' prep schools LOCATED AWAY FROM NYC--you couldn't have dragged me to Spence) not knowing anything about them really--just those girls rappelling through the tree canopies in the woods near the school, imagining I could glide through life that easily instead of being stuck in my Goodwill t-shirts and cords, snuffling through the halls of C.M. Eppes.
So when I read Prep for the first time, it was like reading THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF MY LIFE if I had actually gone to one of those obscure objects of desire (thx Eugenides). Lee Fiora is 110% as awkward, self-conscious, and hopelessly MIDDLE CLASS as I was, and in scene after scene (Lee's congratulations card to Gates Medkowski, the MALL TRIP WITH CROSS, her whole obsession with not letting Cross know how much she cared about him IN CASE HE DIDN'T FEEL THE SAME WAY), I was astonished by how much I recognized those emotions in myself.
Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep is remarkable, terrifying, and I love her for writing it and giving voice to my DREAMS.