Thursday, July 31, 2008

She lived in London, doesn't that count?

OK, so she's not British, but Irish author Marian Keyes lived in London for many years, so that's close enough for me. Just now I'm distressingly low on audio books from the library, so I had to dig out one of my own for a re-listen. I'm currently enjoying Marian's Under the Duvet: Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families and Other Calamities. This is not a novel, but a collection of previously published articles that appeared in various magazines and newspapers, as well as some new material. The articles are mostly hilarious, and deal with such things as her love of shoes (even though, like me, she has ridiculously small feet and can almost never find any that fit), buying and remodeling a house, and learning to drive. She reads the audio book herself, and gives the stories hilarious inflections and accents that greatly add to the enjoyment of the book. Her family members are make frequent appearances in her stories, especially her husband, AKA "himself." My favorite part (aside from the numerous funny bits), are the appealing Irish turns of phrase that pop up regularly. At one point, she discusses talking with another Irish expat in London, and being glad not to have to explain the meaning of such phrases as "ride me sideways." Well, because she doesn't have to explain it to the other Irish person, no explanations are given, but it does make for amusing speculation!

Another true life story that I'm currently enjoying is the book Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself By Becoming an EMT by Jane Stern. Stern is a well-known food journalist who reports regularly for NPR with her husband Michael. At the age of 52, she was overtaken by a severe form of depression. A not leaving the house, watching Jerry Springer all day, not ever getting dressed type of depression. Seemingly on a whim, she stops in to apply when volunteer EMTs are needed at the local fire station. At first, because of her age and overall poor physical condition, she is not exactly welcomed with open arms. However, she joins the training class and quickly discovers that if she can keep her latte down during the more graphic and bloody slide shows, she has a true interest in the subject. So far, I am really enjoying the story. It's quite amazing to read about how a woman who was so depressed and anxiety-ridden decided to volunteer for what must surely be one of the most stressful occupations on earth. On the other hand, after dealing daily with people who have severed limbs, brains leaking out of their skulls, and "feces that look like coffee grounds", I suppose your own problems don't seem so bad. Right now she is still in the training class, but I'm anxious to find out what happens when she goes on her first call!

Final Verdict for Under the Duvet: Four Gherkins, for occasional London references and many, many hilarious situations!

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