Decisions, decisions, decisions

Welcome to November, when I start narrowing my focus and making choices about how I spend my time. For two months, I ran around trying everything offered and never refusing an opportunity to explore Ireland. I kind of had this policy that I would make myself follow through on every possibility, no matter how much it scared me. Someone even called me a culture vulture, and I was thrilled with that description. It all kind of culminated on October 31, when this 30-year-old woman went out on the town dressed in full fairy costume.

It’s catching up with me now. Time is tight, workload is increasing, and it’s freaking cold outside. On November 1, I skipped a volunteer wrap party (with free pizza) in favor of a frozen pizza and reading at home. On November 2, the rain and hail kept me from going out to use the free video rental coupons that arrived via email.

Today, November 3, was a tough one. I’m bound and determined to keep up with my pleasure reading while I work on my master’s. If I stop reading for pleasure, then there’s no point in pursuing a career in publishing. However, it’s not purely pleasure reading, because I have written a review of every book I have read since 2010 (first on Tumblr, then on Goodreads). Those reviews are kind of like mini-assignments I’ve given myself over the past 34 months.

I finished a book of short stories today, and wrote a review. I tried to be nice, given the whole criticism/Ruby Sparks issue I have been dealing with all week, but this book had a glaring error that I couldn’t ignore. I went to post the review on Goodreads, and I learned that the book has never been reviewed. It’s a new book, and it doesn’t even have an entry on Goodreads yet. My review, which focused entirely on some major flaws I found in the book, would be the first and likely only review – for a while anyway.

I decided not to post it. This is the first book in nearly three years that I won’t publish an opinion about… and I have posted some nasty reviews in my time. But I’m trying to be smart about this – it’s an Irish publisher, the proceeds of the book go to charity, and even though I’m in a publishing course and highly attuned to editorial misfires, I also know how easy it is to make a mistake. I just don’t want my negative (but fair!) review to be the only entry on Goodreads regarding this book.

There’s my tough choice of the day. Taking a hiatus from my three-year record of publicly stating what I think of the books I read so I can keep quiet about this one. I wonder if I’ll make a choice like this every day in November?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s


The Paramount Theatre

Every summer, the Paramount Theatre in Austin hosts a program of classic movies. Last Sunday the movie was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, preceded by martinis and manicures. I went with a few friends to celebrate my 30th birthday.


Nail polish by China Glaze; photo by Kendra.

I’ve talked a lot about why and exactly how the movie should be remade, written extensively about the Holly Golightly – Carrie Bradshaw genealogy, and have plans to revisit a connection between Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Franny and Zooey that I only just noticed on this past reread… but this viewing had to do with Mr. Yunioshi.


What happened is that a Goodreads friend lambasted the book, which I love, on the basis of Holly being a racist. I thought this was inaccurate; if anything involved with Breakfast at Tiffany’s was racist, it would be the casting of a white man to play the Japanese-American photographer.

As a member of the oppressive class, it took me a few years and a viewing of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story before I could really understand how harmful the Mr. Yunioshi caricature might feel to someone of Japanese heritage.

The thing is, the book is pretty bad as well. The slurs that Holly lets fly can make your hair stand on end, and the narrator’s description of a group of ethnic youths employs some unfortunate metaphors. The only disenfranchised population to be treated with any delicacy is, fittingly, homosexual males – most likely because the narrator and the author both belong to this group.

My final verdict, however, is that the movie is worse. I might be a little biased, but I do believe Holly’s ignorance is part of her character, to show how morally underdeveloped and culturally insensitive she is. The small but significant role Mr. Yunioshi plays in the book is left out of the movie, and his multiple appearances on screen are used for nothing more than comic relief. Except it’s not funny. Not at all.