Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quinn Cummings's Notes from the Underwire

(First of all, sorry, everyone, but I've had to add word verification for those of you who wish to comment due to an annoying "commenter" who keeps sending stuff that is written in Chinese -- or one of those languages that uses characters I don't recognize -- to every "Monday Music" post of mine.)

When we met up with Hobs and Dorr last month for hiking in Acadia National Park, we afterwards decided to have dinner in Bar Harbor. Dinner at Lompoc's (a nod to Hobs's California roots, although, according to our waiter, the restaurant was not named after that) included drinks from the cocktail list -- the sort of concoctions my father, in his younger days, would have referred to as "drinks for women and children." We 21st-century, food-network-trained drinkers like to think of them as "chances to expand our palate," which they most certainly did (the side effects of that being an expanded tongue that is not easy to hold). I can't even begin to tell you what was in mine. Nor do I know exactly what (I'm guessing at least vodka and blueberries?) was in the blueberry martini we stopped at a bar to have after that drink we had with dinner.

What I do know is that we should not, then (or at least I should not then) have been allowed to roam free in Sherman's Bookstore. Roam free, however, we did, commenting loudly on signs that blew down and hit us, as well as books. I'm glad we did, though. You see, this is when I discovered, as Hobs read dramatically to us from absurd cover copy and endorsements, that I am not alone when it comes to mocking cover copy and endorsements. (In fact, Hobs has me beat. Go have a fancy cocktail and a blueberry martini with him and see what I mean.)

His reading was so apropos. At the time, I was nearly finished reading Quinn Cummings's (of QC Report fame) Notes from the Underwire, and I had been so disgusted by two of the three cover endorsements. (The third, Bob Tarte, caught my eye. I must look him up. I mean, how can I not be interested in what someone who wrote a book called Enslaved by Ducks has to say?)

It's not as though the cover endorsements had any effect on me. I've been reading Quinn's blog faithfully for over two years. As soon as the book was released, I ordered it from Powell's, having no idea who'd endorsed it. I would have done so regardless of who had. But then I got my copy and began to look at it. I read the cover endorsement from Jen Lancaster, "Charming, hilarious, and just snarky enough to be ultimately satisfying."

"Jen Lancaster?" I thought. Who's she to be judging the likes of Quinn Cummings? She probably read it, seething the whole time that Quinn can write intelligent, bespectacled, subtly- wry circles around her. I finished the book and felt Quinn ought to be outraged to have this author endorsing her work, even if she does happen to be a bestseller. Really, it's like having Jackie Collins endorse Dorothy Parker or something.

Then there's the quote from USA Today on the back cover: "Erma Bombeck with an edge." I'm sorry. You could show me a portrait of Erma Bombeck painted by Picasso, all edges -- well, and a few points -- and no way in hell would I think, "Ahhh...sort of like Quinn Cummings."

Don't get me wrong. I love Erma Bombeck for what she was. But nothing Quinn writes encourages such thoughts as, "Oh, yes, green grass on that side of the septic tank." Quinn is not the typical 1960s suburban housewife trying to make something funny out of that dismal life. Quinn is leading her own, fascinating, 21st-century-female life and giving us an achingly honest and screamingly funny description of it, while letting us know how human she is and having no qualms when it comes to self deprecation or admitting that this life is often very sad.

Just like her blog, it's laugh-out-loud funny. It's annoy-your-husband-because-you're-laughing-so-hard-and he's-not-a-part-of-this-uproariously-good-time-you're-having funny. Did I mention laugh until the tears stream down your cheeks? I didn't? Shame on me!

Go on. What are you waiting for? I've been raving about Quinn ever since I discovered her blog. She's ten times funnier than I am. If you're reading me, you really ought to be reading her. Get her book. Now.


litlove said...

I love the way you manage to undermine the endorsements and yet sell the book! I'm sold. Going to look her up right now.

Courtney said...

Great review! I love Quinn's blog too and am definitely going to buy a copy of this!

ZoesMom said...

I love to laugh at those endorsements too. I just picked up Quinn's book a few weeks ago. Now I really can't wait to read it!

Emily Barton said...

Litlove, hope you found yourself a copy.

Court, you won't be disappointed.

ZM, I know you'll like it. I think of you as sort of an East Coast Quinn.

Rebecca H. said...

Silly me for not reading that blog! What am I thinking?? And what a wonderful thing to have done with you and Bob -- have a great meal, go out drinking, and visit a bookstore. Doesn't get better than that!

Emily Barton said...

Dorr, yes, read Quinn's blog. And it was GREAT fun in Bar Harbor. I'd do it again in a heartbeat (so would Bob).

Bob Tarte said...

Hi, Emily. I haven't seen the finished version of Quinn's book yet, but I'm glad you liked the cover blurb that I wrote. And I hope you have a chance to check out my books about the pleasures and pitfalls of being owned by numerous animals ("Enslaved by Ducks" and "Fowl Weather").

Emily Barton said...

Bob, thanks for commenting. I plan to check out both your books. They sound like they're right up my alley.