the sweet in-between

DSC00172Some of you may remember that on my first try with the Kindle, when I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, it did not go well, and I switched to the physical book itself. My second try, using the Kindle to read Infinite Jest while I was traveling, went great. I wondered if it was because I’d already held the real book in my hands.

I think it was more a matter of my getting used to the Kindle. A couple of weeks ago, right before Sheri Reynolds‘ most recent novel, The Sweet In-Between, came out in paperback, I wanted to read it. Right that second. Aha. Kindle. I was reading it in about three minutes.

And I totally loved it–even reading it on the Kindle–and was not ready for it to end when it did.

Now to write a post on it without having the actual book. You can see the first problem in the upper right-hand corner.

The second problem was no underlining. BUT the Kindle has a feature called clippings, and I was able to easily pull up all the passages I had marked. So here we go…


borrowed a friend's book for this picture

The Sweet In-Between is written in the first person and narrated by 17-year-old Kendra, who goes by Kenny and who is in the middle of an identity crisis. Her sort-of step-brother’s girlfriend, Sneaky, describes her as follows:

“I mean you’re like a boy in all the good ways, and you’re kind of like a girl in all the good ways too.”

She describes herself here: “I feel funny, like I might not be who I always thought…”

Kenny is an endearing character, one, as Linda mentioned in the comments to the previous post, you want to fight for.

“Here’s the thing: There are holes that never go away, holes that never fill back up no matter what.”

If you’d like to read a book where the voice of the narrator comes shining through, this is the book for you. Here are a few examples:

“I love cutting grass. You can see exactly where you’ve been and where you need to go next. You can’t really hurry. You just move steady, one step at a time, and with that lawn mower handle vibrating in your hands, you know you’re alive.”

“It’s dark out, the moon still hanging around, a good time of day, before everybody wakes up and ruins it.”

“Even though I don’t have a camera to practice with, I like the idea of framing a thing for the world, picking a moment out of all the other moments, and click–there it is. (Or there it will be.)”

Nothing will ever replace real live books for me, but I’m happy to have the Kindle as a part of my library.

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Fitzgerald finale, part 2

img_1910The Russian Doll Aspect of Life:

I am the same person who liked to play with Troll Dolls in third grade, tried out for cheer leading in ninth, worked as a waitress in college, lived in France, and practiced law. All of these “me’s” are difficult for the “me now’ to believe–some more so than others.

“Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am to-night.”

Catching Days:

Life is hard to get hold of. We have to break it down to make it manageable. We have to try to catch moments. Yet, there is the big picture. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

“Dick tried to dissect it into pieces small enough to store away–realizing that the totality of a life my be different in quality from its segments.”


Sometimes it seems as if the clock is not moving at all, and other times, how can it be Monday again already. Is it a function of what we are doing or what we are looking forward to? I’m a person who always needs to see the days on a calendar, who is always printing out different calendars–one week, two weeks, a month, six weeks–trying to keep track of life. What does it say about a character, his or her view of time?

“He stayed in the big room a long time listening to the buzz of the electric clock, listening to time.”img_19001

“For him time stood still and then every few years accelerated in a rush, like the quick re-wind of a film, but for Nicole the years slipped away by clock and calendar and birthday…”

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Fitzgerald finale, part 1

img_19222Perhaps one of the reasons I’ve been so taken with Tender is the Night is that the things Fitzgerald writes about are also the things I’m interested in.  In this two-part post (a finale in the sense that I’ll be moving on to another book after part 2 of the finale, but, as they say, we’ll always have Paris), I’d like to touch on a few of those themes that I have not already mentioned.

Because they all go together:

One of the reasons I love row houses is because they all go together. For myself, I love things that match, and I like to keep all those things together. I have trouble using the shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bath gel, and soap I get from a hotel. They all match. I want to keep them together.

“Rosemary watched Nicole pressing upon her mother a yellow evening bag she had admired, saying ‘I think things ought to belong to the people that like them.’–and then sweeping into it all the yellow articles she could find, a pencil, a lipstick, a little note book, ‘because they all go together.”

Opposite of Accumulation:

I don’t like clutter–in rooms or clothes. Another reason I love row houses is because of how small and manageable they are. Less room; less space in which to accumulate. And oh for that little-girl feeling of a summer dress and just panties and twirling…

“She liked the bareness of the room…”

“…she liked the economy of the weightless dress and espadrilles…”

More tomorrow….

in a lyrical way

img_190375 years ago this month, Tender is the Night was published.  In a friend’s copy of the book, Fitzgerald inscribed the following:

“If you liked The Great Gatsby, for God’s sake read this. Gatsby was a tour de force but this is a confession of faith.”

Apparently Fitzgerald was practical as well.  In a letter to Max Perkins, he wrote, “Don’t forget my suggestion that the jacket flap should carry an implication that though the book starts in a lyrical way, heavy drama will presently develop.”

And it’s true, the book does start in a lyrical way.  The first sentence:

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel.”

Although it’s true that heavy drama–or at least drama–does follow, the novel is lyrical throughout.

“The water reached up for her, pulled her down tenderly out of the heat, seeped in her hair and ran into the corners of her body. She turned round and round in it, embracing it, wallowing in it.”

“…he kissed her and was chilled by the innocence of her kiss, by the glance that at the moment of contact looked beyond him out into the darkness of the night, the darkness of the world. She did not know yet that splendor is something in the heart; at the moment when she realized that and melted into the passion of the universe he could take her without question or regret.”

Here’s a great example of how to stay in the body of a character (after Dick learns of the death of his father): “He felt a sharp wince at the shock, a gathering of the forces of resistance; then it rolled up through his loins and stomach and throat.”

Finally, the best definition of love I have ever come across:  “a wild submergence of soul, a dipping of all colors into an obscuring dye.”

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald died at 44 of a heart attack.

four wardrobe trunks

I have no trouble packing in a carry-on for a weekend trip, even a 3-day weekend. But until a few weeks ago, I’d never packed in a carry-on for a week-long trip. My husband suggested I try it. Well, I knew it could be done. I’d seen other people do it. I just didn’t think I could. But I can.

img_19011When Nicole Diver traveled in Tender is the Night, she took with her:  4 wardrobe trunks, a shoe trunk, 3 hat trunks, and 2 hat boxes, a chest of servants’ trunks, a portable filing-cabinet, a medicine chest, a spirit lamp container, a picnic set, 4 tennis rackets in presses and cases, a phonograph, a typewriter, and 24 supplementary grips, satchels, and packages.

It’s freeing to be mobile. Travelling becomes much easier. Less to pack; less to unpack; less to pack up. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it. One of each thing. Lots of black. And something that you love to wear–for me, long scarves.

“…each one numbered, down to the tag on the cane case. Thus all of it could be checked up in two minutes on any station platform, some for storage, some for accompaniment from the ‘light trip list’ or the ‘heavy trip list,’ constantly revised, and carried on metal-edged plaques in Nicole’s purse. She had devised the system as a child when travelling with her failing mother.”

img_19072Be sure to ship any purchases home. Books fit well in boxes….

from seaside

img_1776 It’s a blustery day in Seaside, Florida, a town many of you may know from the movie The Truman Show.  I was taking a quick break from Tender is the Night for a fun beach read, The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King, which takes place in Seaside and the surrounding area.  I love that–reading a novel that takes place where I’m physically located.  I was actually on the deck at Bud & Alley’s when I read “we went for an early supper on the outdoor deck of Bud & Alley’s.”

I went in Sundog Booksimg_1759, the wonderful independent bookstore located in Seaside.  Picked up book after book.  Then my eyes fell on a copy of Tender is the Night.  I’ve been reading the book on my new Kindle.  And not liking it very much.  Not picking it up very often.  Normally I take my book up to bed with me, but there’s something not-very-cozy about heading to bed with my Kindle.

Anyway, I suspected that it was not the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald that were the problem, but the very cool electronic gadget that I was reading them on.  Standing in Sundog Books, I opened the copy of Tender is the Night and began reading.  I was mesmerized.  And disappointed.  How could it make that much difference?  And I love gadgets.  And the Kindle is so cool.  You can download a book in a few seconds.  You can search through the pages of the book.  You can take an entire library with you when you travel.  But it’s not the same, I’m so sad to have to admit.

So I bought that copy and went across the street for a great lunch–a lobster roll and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

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