The Girls in the Van

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Today's book was suggested by my sister. It's actually not the first book she suggested, but her first suggestion was 532 pages long which I probably could have still read if I had cut out all the time I waste on pointless things like eating, sleeping and breathing. So this book was plan B. And by the way, I have no idea why the picture of the book ended up this big, I specifically hit medium when putting the picture up and instead I got a giant picture, and I'm feeling too lazy right now to go back and fix it.

Per my new Suggestion Sunday policy of sharing a few quick anecdotes about the family member who picked each book, I'm going to share my favorite Alissa story. When we were children she was convinced that fruit and vegetables had feelings. She would try to convince Mom to bring home the really small apples or oranges from the store home because, "It's so small that no one else is going to buy it and it'll be sad if it doesn't get taken home by anyone." And, if she thought a fruit or vegetable was particularly cute she would insist on taking a picture of it before she ate it. I never really understood the criteria for deciding whether fruit and vegetable were cute, but she would always insist that some were cuter than others. Mom indulged her with this sometimes, but after awhile she got sick of wasting film. This frequently led to her sneaking Mom's camera and taking a picture anyway - which would result in Mom opening the package of newly developed pictures and yelling out, "Alright, that's it. Who took a picture of a potato with my camera?"

Today's book; "For two long years, Associated Press staff writer Harpaz covered Hillary Clinton's Senate election campaign. This journal of those days serves as an update of Timothy Crouse's 1972 insider's account of political reporting, The Boys on the Bus. It's a worthy successor insightful, honest and funny. Much has changed in reporting since 1972. Typewriters and telephones have been replaced by laptops and Palm pilots, and women, all but absent in Crouse's book, make up half of the reporters covering Clinton. Harpaz spends most of her time trying to gain access to the always aloof Hillary, no easy task since, as depicted here, she uses her status as First Lady, and all the security that entails, to keep the press at bay."

The reviews I read of this book were terrible, which strangely enough always makes me want to read the book even more. The reviews said the author talks too much about her personal life and should have instead stuck to writing just about the actual campaign. I feel the exact opposite, I'm glad the author included information about her home life. I find it jarring to read about some one's job/project (whatever it is they're writing about) when there is no mention of themselves or their lives. I'd rather walk away from a book feeling like I really know something about the author and not just the subject they're writing about. But maybe my sympathy towards the author in regards to her bad reviews is stemming from the mental image I now have of what would be said about this blog if it was ever published into a book. I imagine the reviews going a little something like this, "She spent 10% of the time talking about the actual books and 90% of the time talking about herself and her family." So I'm feeling a sense of solidarity with the author write now. Self-involved writers unite.

My favorite part of the book was when the author was describing how the press would amuse themselves while traveling to whatever location Hillary would be at by making up new Hillary-inspired lyrics to familiar songs. Here is their version of a song they call Hillary, set to the tune of the Beatles' "Yesterday."

All your troubles seem so far away!
Now it looks as though we're here to stay
Oh, you believe in Hill-ar-y

My sister used to make up beer related songs set to the tune of country music songs when she worked at my Dad's store in high school. (She would like me to put the disclaimer on here that she never drank in high school, all beer related activities were restricted to making up songs about beer. She would also like it on the record that she didn't even have her first drink until she was 21 and that she's "practically a teetotaler.") The song she made up that I remember the most vividly was set to the tune of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's duet "It's Your Love" and it goes a little something like this:

Dancing in the dark
Middle of the night
Taking that beer, and holding it tight
Emotional drink, getting me drunk
And asking that beer to get me drunk all over again

And, so I don't end the blog entry with a story that makes us sound like a family of drunks, I'm
going to share a few pictures with you dear readers. My sister chose a Hillary book today (the
other suggested book was also a Hillary book) because she feels they are spiritually connected through their taste in furniture. Last fall Alissa bought a new couch, only to get home and discover that the couch looked very familiar. She kept wondering where she's seen that couch before, when she realized that her couch is just like the couch that Hillary had in her Senate office, and that Bill had in the Oval Office. I think she should have a party right away, so people can admire her couch and she can walk around all night telling stories about it to the effect of, "And then I said to the saleswoman, if it's good enough for Hillary and Bill . . .