Tuesday, September 16, 2014

YAck Attack: Landline by Rainbow Rowell


Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened  (goodreads.com)

SyaIn order to have a starting point for the Landline YAck, I present this as exhibit A, proving Rowell has perfected the art of turning a perfect phrase. I've just finished the book and look forward to hearing what everyone thought. I think that this is a book that will be experienced differently depending on where we are in our lives and what we have done with them (yes, I know all books are like that but I am feeling it particularly with this one).

Donna: This book is so far away from my normal reading repertoire I need a passport. I didn't even know the premise until I picked it up to read it. So tell me, will it eventually stop reading like an ABC Family movie and a Lifetime movie had a baby?

Maureen: Donna is trying to give Rowell a run for her money.

Donna: Donna is trying to even nominally connect to a book that's roughly 99.9% unrelateable to her. Laura was right. I should have stuck with Fangirl.

Maureen: I still haven't read any Rowell. Heresy, I know. But the fandoration has gotten to the point where I get stubborn. Same thing happened with WONDER.

Chachic: I've read Fangirl and Attachments and really enjoyed both. Haven't started on Landline. Might not be able to get to it this will because Magic Breaks will be released tomorrow!

Sya: I only got invested in the last third. Prior to that I kept putting it down with no inclination to pick it up again. A bit, actually, like Eleanor and Park which I never finished. However, there is some lovely writing in it, even if the premise is too thin to support it.

Angie: Read FangirlDonna.

Sya: Fangirl is superb. In fact, I am going to go and read Fangirl again RIGHT NOW.

Nicole: Fangirl was great (except for random rape jokes??? still not comfortable with that).

Sya: I don't remember that - will look out for it.

Nicole: Yeah, there's a valid concern when she's going around at night outside and then somebody makes a joke about it that's just accepted to be funny, and there's another joke later on that I'm blanking out on the exact scenario but it's a joke about roofies. It's nothing that like a college kid wouldn't say so I didn't get too worked up about it but still I was like "sigh yes victim blaming jokes are a thing but at least acknowledge they're a shitty thing oh well."

Sya: It sounds a lot like the kind of thing I heard at college. Even though I have always found stuff like that wrong I wouldn't have had the guts to say so, so maybe that is what she was going for and didn't feel the need to detract from the authenticity by expositing that.

Laura: Fangirl lives in my heart, nicely settled in, all warm and snug.

Sandy: Fangirl currently has my soul in its clutches-and I am oh so okay with that.

Melissa: I didn't particularly like Fangirl (I'm more of an E&P fan, though not really a FAN, but I liked it) but I think it's because I don't particularly get fan fiction. It did, however, remind me of my oldest daughter quite a bit. I'm a bit afraid to pick up Landline, though.

Angie: You should be, Melissa. The pain . . .

Angie: And I loved it.

Sya: I didn't. But I cried because the relationship stuff is harsh and true yet beautiful - I just felt that the phone into the past thing was so obviously contrived to enable that stuff. I kind of felt that RR let herself down with a flimsy idea. But it WAS an utterly intriguing and haunting idea. So there's that. It just felt forced. But as a study of commitment and conflicting need and the reality of loving...well, it really works.

Holly: I didn't like Fangirl, either, Melissa. But I adore E&P and really related to the whole married with kids part of Landline. That aspect is so achingly real to me.

Donna: I found the pug birth scene rather hilarious and the scene with Heather and her crush touching. But this is still an ABC Family movie to me.

Melissa: If Kendrick is 40, and 3 years older than Georgie, which makes her 37, no? BUT she and Seth have been doing their shtick since 1994. Help me with the math. I missed something here....

Sya: If they met in their first year of college and were 18ish?

Donna: She was 22 in 1998 when Neal proposed, 23 when they got married, presumably the following year. That would make her 18 in 1994.

Donna: So this book did make me cry, it ended how I wanted it to end. But I also cry watching nearly every episode of Bones, for some reason. So take my crying as you see fit. Sweet story. But so far from anything I can really relate to that I just didn't FEEL it.

Melissa: For some reason, I had it in my mind that they'd been working together since they graduated, which meant she was 18 when she graduated, and that didn't make sense. It does now. Thanks.

Melissa: I didn't cry. Which probably means I'm cold and heartless. But I agree with Donna (?) that it's really just an ABC Family Movie. It was nice, but it was also kind of lame. I didn't like either Georgie or Neal or Seth (go Heather!) and I just wanted them all to go away. Probably not the best reaction for this kind of book.

Sya: There is some very beautiful writing but the plot is weak. I also cry at Bones. Which I am ashamed off.

Angie: Sorry about that, Melissa. I really loved Georgie and Neal. Seth was Seth. But Georgie and Neal? They were real. I thought it was a lovely portrait of a marriage in trouble. And when she is stranded in the airport at the end and starting to lose it and she walks into the bathroom and yanks up her shirt to see the stretch marks still there? That is when I cried.

Sya: I agree with Angie. They were very real to me. As a mother who struggles with work/life balance, I cried at the same moment as Angie but also at a few others. But that doesn't mean that the plot wasn't contrived and trite... Saying that, a trite plot doesn't diminish Rowell's laser sharp dissembling of a relationship. There is clearly some powerful stuff there.

Donna: Sya, what is it about Bones that makes us cry? I'm mean seriously. And I'm talking ugly, snot-flowing crying. I don't get it. And Melissa, yes, the ABC Family comment was me. It's still an ABC Family movie as far as I'm concerned that I just can't relate to. None of it. And Neal's a dick. I mean a DICK.

Sya: It’s because we are secretly thinking that Booth should be with Buffy.  HOW CAN HE BE HAPPY WITH ANYONE ELSE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD? And also because Mr. Nigel-Murray. Sob.

Melissa: Donna, re Neal being a dick: maybe that's why I didn't get Georgie and Neal. I understand being unhappy with your spouse and where you're living and all that (Heaven knows I often am), but he didn't even TRY. He could have found something that fulfilled himself. Isn't that why we're always telling say-at-home moms? He didn't feel like a person to me, he felt like a caricature. I can understand where you're coming from, Angie and Sya, but it just didn't move me.

Donna: Neal was a cock. Instead of backing away from a life he knew would make him miserable because he HATED the life Georgie was leading, he dove into it and then resented her the live she's always been living. And you're right, Melissa. He didn't try. He didn't do anything except stay at home and simmer in his own emo juices and resent Georgie for everything that she was doing. He couldn't even fake it when they went out together. I would have dropped his ass after that. I mean, he says he loved her but he couldn't even ATTEMPT to even fucking smile at an event she brought him to? Seriously? He's a shit.

Melissa: Being my own devils advocate here: what if the roles were reversed, and Neal was a woman at home and Georgie was the man, gone all the time. Would we be saying the same things about her? I see a lot of myself in Neal -- not knowing what to do for a career, staying home with the kids because it was cheaper than day care, resenting (at times) the places my husband's job took us -- but I sure as hell hope that I don't go through my life with as huge a chip on my shoulder. But maybe I do?

Donna: I would to think that If Georgie were the stay at home parent and Neal the one with ambition that I would think the same way. Why why WHY would you enter into a relationship where you are largely incompatible with someone and you don't like your life and then give up EVERYTHING to kowtow to them and then hold it against them for your own shitty decisions in life? Neal had nothing of his own because that's what he allotted himself, being the miserable human being that he is. In that same vein, Georgie's a bit of an asshole too for thinking of only herself in this relationship. It's not just that she worked a 9 to 5 but she was never around. She thought of herself first and foremost, her children a passing thought and her husband little more than a babysitter she didn't have to pay. She didn't give. At all. It was the Georgie Show and that was it. So she's an asshole too. Maybe that makes them good for each other. I don't know. I just have a big problem with people who hold others responsible for their own decisions. This conversation can easily go into a realm I know nothing about (I don't have kids and I'm not married, although I am in a long term relationship) and I can make statements based on nothing other than my head movies but as two consenting adults in a relationship I would expect them to act like adults and actually talk their problems out instead of leaving them to fester for years. I would hope that any stay at home parent would have something for themselves, whatever it is, so that their world is a little broader than the house's four walls and whatever children occupy it. I would hope the working party wouldn't be selfish and completely take advantage of that situation for their own gains and not even consider the other party. I would hope that the two parties involved would enter into the relationship knowing what they were getting into and being fully accepting of it. Otherwise what the hell are they even doing there? What the hell were Neal and Georgie doing? Their relationship was nonsensical at best. They loved each other...why? They were as incompatible as two people could be. So what were they doing other than torturing themselves?

Melissa: I liked your statement, Donna: "They loved each other... why?" I think we (populace, not us here) like to think that love is enough. But it's not. Maybe, ultimately, that's what Rowell was trying to show? (But if that's the case, then the ending kind of defeats that point.)

Donna: What they have is more of an addiction for each other. They're really not good for each other but they keep coming back for some reason.

Angie: Which is why it felt real to me, I guess. I think a lot of people (myself included) enter marriage not knowing all they're getting into. Loving that person. But not knowing, just as Georgie says, what it will really be like joining yourself to another person for life. How hard it would be to change if it's needed. Or even if you could. And how hard to leave if things go poorly. I think I didn't see either of them as being reprehensible. So very flawed. But not worthless. And yeah. I wanted that ending.

Sya: That's what I meant when I said that I thought it would speak to us in different ways dependent on our own personal circumstances and experience. I liked the way that both characters were written. Neal's somewhat martyred personality didn't bother me because I saw him as someone who kept trying and trying but got nothing back. I liked Georgie but found her infuriating, particularly in that she seemed vaguely surprised that Neal had had enough. Additionally, she seemed more inclinced to fix it by ending the relationship in the past than by working on problems in the present. I ended the book feeling that while they might be OK for a while, Georgie would continue to throw herself into work while hoping for the best in her marriage. I quite liked this - it seemed very real.

Laura: I didn't read this on the grounds that at the moment I'm not reading anything that isn't fantasy or porn.

Angie: It is neither of those. 

1 comment:

  1. High, girl!
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    (what could be MOE exciting than the 3-Stooges??)

    “Faith, hope, and love,
    the greatest of these is love -
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    Meet me Upstairs, girl, where the Son never goes down…