Chelsea Martin continues to prove herself the preeminent chronicler of Internet age malaise and I fucking love it. Mickey takes her provocative poetry long form, weaving the tangled tale of a breakup that shouldn't be as confusing as it is. This has replaced Anne of Green Gables as my cozy times reading. Who the fuck knows what that says about me, but it says a LOT about the power of Chelsea's writing.
As noted before, I love a biography of a 20th century brassy dame. Brooke Hauser's new book, Enter Helen, about pioneering Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, fits that bill beautifully. Gurley Brown is not an uncomplicated figure by modern feminist standards—her options on male/female relationships are, let's say, retro—but her true transformation from impoverished Arkansas "mouseburger" to the most powerful woman in media is deeply inspiring. Hauser doesn't just paint a moving and entertaining portrait of Gurley Brown, she also does a wonderful job contextualizing HGB against the backdrop of a changing American culture and the sexual revolution of the 1960s. A must-read piece of proto-feminist history.
Summer always means murder mysteries for me. The genre is such great beach reading, and also wonderful comfort reading for when you aren't at the beach. Last summer I went back to the origins of the modern detective novel and read lots of Victorian mysteries written by women, which were much less ladylike than you might think. This year I'm getting into mysteries written in the late 19th and early 20th century, like The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. It was published in 1930, and contains the first appearance of one Miss Marple, although she is not the central character. It's narrated by the titular vicar, who describes her this way when she comes to tea with a friend:
Miss Marple is a white-haired old lady with a gentle, appealing manner — Miss Wetherby is a mixture of vinegar and gush. Of the two Miss Marple is the much more dangerous.
The characters also use words like "shemozzle," which is very enjoyable. I'm about a chapter in and loving it—the best part is knowing I've got 12 more Marple novels to read after this.