Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Today Will Be Different: If everyone were so gung-ho on reality, there'd be no art

Have I made my love of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette? clear? Have I? If not, let me shout from the rooftops that I love this book and even just thinking about it makes me think I should probably re-read it again, despite a growing TBR list of all NEW things I could be experiencing.

So when I heard Semple had a new book out, Today Will Be Different, I said "YES PLEASE." Like, immediately, out loud to myself. Then I sort of forgot about it for a while because I am easily distracted. But I found an ecopy for sale and so decided to not only read it myself, but foist it on a bunch of other people by suggesting it for book club. And my book was chosen (at random from a bunch of pieces of paper in a hat) so the pressure is on.

...This was no Where'd You Go, Bernadette?.

Today Will Be Different follows around Eleanor Flood through her day, where she repeats the titular mantra. Listen, you don't have to repeat stuff like that if everything is awesome. But hey maybe today will be different. She'll do stuff like shower and get dressed. She'll only wear yoga clothes at yoga, which she will attend. She'll initiate sex with her husband. Today will be different.

But, her young son, who is having some trouble at school, decides to fake sick. This on the same day she discovers her husband, a well-known surgeon who treats famous athletes, has told his office that he's on vacation while telling his family he's at the office. And there's also the matter of her graphic novel, The Flood Girls, a memoir about her and her sister that is years overdue.

The present day bits all take place on this one day where Eleanor is trying to hold it together and figure out just what is going on. There are the flashbacks, some to her and her sister Ivy growing up, others involving her sister and an incident involving New Orleans high society.

The flashback bits were the most successful for me. They were the parts that reminded me of Bernadette that focused on the ridiculous. They were also the parts where the narrative made the most sense. Or maybe it was just he parts I could follow.

Because the thing is, the whole book has Semple's humor which can be biting a cruel at times, but is still pretty great. This quote is long but whatever, it's a good one and a good example of her writing
My point is: for ten years I haven't been able to shake her. She's the friend I don't like, the friend I don't know what she does for a living because I was too stultified to ask the first time and it would be rude to ask now (because I am not rude), the friend I can't be mean enough to so she gets the message (because I'm not mean), the friend to whom I keep saying no, no, no, yet she still chases me. She's like Parkinson's, you can't cure her, you can just manage the symptoms. For today, the lunch bell tolls. Please know that I'm aware lunch with a boring person is a boutique problem.
There were pieces and scenes and conversations I enjoyed but overall it didn't come together as a cohesive story. Part of me wonders what my thoughts would have been like had Bernadette not been a thing because it set up some high expectations.

But seriously, read Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 46

Semple, Maria. Today Will Be Different. Little Brown and Company, 2016.