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Book Nook - 20-03-2017

Monday, March 20, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to adc.booknook@gmail.com

Inside Showbiz
Some of our film industry folk are writing their autobiographies, but nobody will call their book Scrappy Little Nobody, because their egos would not allow any self deprecation, while Anna Kendrick seems to have not even a little bit of boastfulness in hers, through self-made star like her has a lot to brag about.

Kendrik may be too young to write a memoir, but her book  is a very funny yet insightful look at American show business, which she observes as an outsider, not an entitled star brat. She is bracingly honest, making herself (and her short physique) the target of her sharp wit.

Kendrik started her acting and singing career as a child, on the stage; her parents and brother ferried her to and fro rehearsals and accompanied her to auditions, but from all accounts stayed low-key and normal, not turning into those caricature pushy stage families. If there is any nastiness or exploitation in her experiences from stage to indie film to mainstream, she keeps the gloom off the pages, choosing instead to focus on the lighter side of her work.

Like any Bollywood struggler, she packs her bags and moves to where the movie industry is in Los Angeles, and after many failed auditions and near broke status, ends up sharing an apartment with two gay men, in which, surprisingly, she continues to live even after reaching a certain degree of success.

Her experiences at shoots of cash-strapped indie films, her first exposure to a film festival and shooting at bizarre place are hilarious. She just never abandons the breezy tone even when she makes observations about the not to pleasant aspects of working in the movies—the red carpet ordeal, giving dozens of generic interviews, dealing with snooty stylists and the problems of carrying off very high heels with designer gowns. She describes how actresses have to avoid sitting till they reach an awards venue to avoid those crotch-level creases on their gowns.

There is Pitch Perfect, the Twilight series and Up In The Air (that got her an Oscar nomination) on her resume, but she still seems a little baffled by her success, even though she clearly worked hard for it, and did not let rejections get her down. There is heartbreak too—a nit-picky boyfriend, like an old-fashioned MCP dumps her because she initiates sex and seems too eager.

Her memories are, of course, selective, but it is obvious that she wanted to have fun writing the book, and maybe there are no demons to exorcise in her mostly happy life. Not everyone is dragged through muck in the cut-throat world of films; it is good to occasionally see it with a sunny-side-up point of view, which Kendrick keeps up, even though the writing is choppy with a bit too much profanity.

At the end, she even creates her own absurd reading group guide, with questions like: “The book opens with the author’s mother wishing for a few stories in which Anna comes across as thoughtful and/or generous. Did Anna’s mother get her wish? Was there a single story where Anna didn’t seem eminently punchable?” or “Anna makes a lot of bad decisions. Can you think of a time when you’ve made a bad decision? Oh wow, really? We’re gonna pretend you can’t think of a single example? YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?!”

She never seems even remotely punchable; in fact, if the movie offers ever dry up, she has a back-up career as a bestselling author.
 
Scrappy Little Nobody
By Anna Kendrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 304

 

Excerpt of Scrappy Little Nobody
I made the breakfast, and he was grateful, but it wasn’t quite how I’d pictured it. He had somewhere to be that afternoon, so we both headed out. I was in the car, waiting to make a left-hand turn, when my phone rang. It was him! He never called me first! I snatched the phone out of the cup holder. “Hi, stalker, just can’t leave me alone, can you?” Nice one, Anna, perfect play.

“I was just behind you. You’re doing my most hated thing—when people turn left onto Sweetzer but don’t signal, so no one knows why you’ve stopped. I just had to go around you.”

I’d thought he was calling to say thank you for breakfast, or to tell me something funny he’d just seen that made him think of me, or maybe just to say it was nice to see me and could we hang out again tonight. But no. He was calling to critique my driving.

Why was I trying to spend more time with this person! I debated even telling this part of the story because I hate admitting that I forgot to signal; on the upside, it shows what a spineless doormat I was, so it stays!

Why was I trying to spend more time with this person! I debated even telling this part of the story because I hate admitting that I forgot to signal; on the upside, it shows what a spineless doormat I was, so it stays!

When I finally turned 21, the dynamic did not improve. Connor started showing interest in a girl named Erika, and I could feel him pulling away even more. The next time we had a vague talk about “what we were doing,” he seemed to debate himself Sméagol/­Gollum style in front of me: “Well, we get along…and I’m not saying that I want to be with anyone else right now…but I guess I don’t want to miss out on any opportunities.” I should have screamed, “I’m the opportunity, you asshat!” But I clenched my teeth and convinced myself once again that I didn’t need a label. Before I left, I at least managed to ask the question.

“OK, so I have to ask…Erika…is there anything there I should be worried about?”

He furrowed his brow. “Erika the brunette? No, no, I’m not even attracted to that girl—I think she has a boyfriend.” It was enough for me. I figured if he hoped they might get together, he wouldn’t call her “that girl.” (Yes, reader, I know you know where this is going. You’re better at everything than I am.)

A few weeks later Connor broke up with me. I cried. So much. It was hideously embarrassing. What had happened to me? This guy so obviously wasn’t into me, we weren’t ever really together in the first place, and I was behaving like a messy trophy wife who’d just been told the prenup was ironclad.

He was sensitive about it and put up with a lot of waterworks from a girl who’d claimed she was fine with just “having fun.” Over the following days the finality of being dumped started to feel like a relief. After all, it could have gone on like that for God knows how long—being ignored, making myself available, swearing I was fine with how things were, too nervous to push for “girlfriend” status. I was angrier with myself than I was with Connor. On one hand, he must have seen I was more invested than he was, and arguably he should have let me down easy in the first few weeks of knowing me. On the other, I can’t blame a guy for believing me (or more likely, pretending to believe me) when I insisted I was happy keeping things low-key.

I left town a few weeks later to film an independent movie in Indiana. After work one night I logged in to MySpace on the slow motel Internet. I’d held out on cyberstalking for a while (two days) and rewarded myself by looking up Connor and everyone remotely connected to him.

In movies the dumped girl finds out about the new girlfriend through a picture: the dude and his new girlfriend smiling on a hike or kissing at a party. I found out because Erika wrote a blog post about it. There, on MySpace, was a half-page post about the new man in her life. She’d incorporated lyrics from his songs throughout, like sappy, stilted Mad Libs. You wouldn’t know the songs, but imagine if Paul McCartney had a new girlfriend and she wrote something like this: “I knew that If I Fell it would be a Long and Winding Road, but Do You Want to Know a Secret? I need him Eight Days a Week, because All You Need Is Love.”

I thought my skull was going to cave in. Thank the Lord that I’d implemented a “no matter how upset you are, sleep on it” policy regarding conflict. I drafted 10 different emails to Connor. They ranged from two-page diatribes to one word: “Wow.” I slept on it and sent nothing.


Also Received
Books about health matters—particularly weight loss—turn out to be bestsellers. According to the synopsis of this book. “The official guide to Dr. David Perlmutter's revolutionary approach to vibrant health as described in his New York Times bestsellers Grain Brain, The Grain Brain Cookbook, and Brain Maker. With more than a million copies sold worldwide, Dr. Perlmutter's books have changed many lives. Now, he's created a practical, comprehensive program that lowers the risk for brain ailments while yielding other benefits, such as weight loss, relief from chronic conditions, and total body rejuvenation. Science-based and highly accessible, THE Grain Brain Whole Life Plan expands upon the core advice from Dr. Perlmutter's previous works, and introduces new information about the advantages of eating more fat, fewer carbs, and nurturing the microbiome. Including original recipes, tips and tricks for common challenges, meal plans, and advice on everything from sleep hygiene to stress management, exercise, supplements, and more, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan shows how to live happily and healthily ever after.”
 
Grain Brain Whole
Life Plan
By: David Perlmutter M.D. With Kristin Loberg
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 304

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