Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
31. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
fourth book for the Dewey Decimal Challenge
I first heard of this book when Sarah posted a video on her blog. At the end of it, there was a list of all the books. When I saw this title, I was intrigued. I searched it out, and immediately ordered it online.
Would it be hyperbole for me to say that I've never read anything quite so enjoyable? Would I be gushing if I said I love this book beyond words? Well, both are true.
In my nonfiction literary life I have three women friends, each of whom has been mentioned on the blog.
One is the late Laurie Colwin:
Happy All The Time
More Home Cooking
The others are Nora Ephron:
I Feel Bad About My Neck
and Sarah Vowell:
The Partly Cloudy Patriot
And now there is a fourth, Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
Rather than try and describe this wonderful, unique book, I'm going to simply quote a number of passages, and let Amy's words speak for themselves. The book is arranged in alphabetical order, and contains a myriad of interesting ways to tell about a person, in this case, Amy. There are entries nostalgic and sad; commonplace and extraordinary.
One would think that by this point in my life, I would have outgrown the fear of getting my shoe caught in the escalator.
I'm turning left. Look, everyone, my blinker is on, and I'm turning left. I am so happy to be alive, driving along, making a left turn. I'm serious. I am doing exactly what I want to be doing at this moment: existing on a Tuesday, going about my business, on my way somewhere, turning left. There is nothing disconcerting or unpleasant or unfortunate about this moment. It is exceptionally nice, plain, and perfect.
I always want to see what happens after the movie is technically over. I want an update on the couple that fell in love in Dolby Surround Sound, to see how they're doing post-euphoria. Have they begun fighting over small increments of time? (You said you'd be home at seven-fifteen. It's seven-twenty.) Or in Ransom, for example, after they get their son back in the end, I want to see what their family life is like. When they're sitting around the breakfast table, do they reminisce, can you believe you were chained up to a bed for a week?
It's a powerful thing, coming across an old photo of someone close to you. It makes you pause -
You have to closely examine it. Like a portrait of my grandmother from forty years ago - so vibrant, poised, that nice tweed skirt. Without the mask of old age, her features are more pronounced; she's herself, but crisper. I have a snapshot of my parents from their courtship period, swinging at a park, all smiles and good skin. There they exist as a young man and a teenage woman who love each other, nothing more yet; they are not parents, they have no affiliation to an unborn me. I know how the story unfolds from there - quite happily actually - but in that photo, they are ripe, on the verge, unencumbered, and so very beautiful. I know my own children will one day come across an old photo of me and Jason. Look at Mom and Dad. They were so young. Look at Mom's hair. And how handsome Dad was.
Online you can find Amy in a few places (and there may be others):
Who is Amy
The book site
A video site
I have now technically completed the Dewey Decimal Challenge, but I expect I'll be reading more nonfiction this year.