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Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook -

Random thoughts about Silver Linings Playbook, A Farewell to Arms, Gone Girl, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. All in one packed post. You’re welcome.

I’m joining a new gym called Qi. I can walk there, which makes it a better option than the 500 other gyms I would have to drive to. And it has functioning equipment, giving it a leg up on the Glenarm Rec with its 80s-era bikes and creaky treadmills. I’m almost always the only person at Qi, which is fine by me since I’m an anti-social exerciser. I go to the gym to get the job done, not to find new beer-drinking buddies. And the topper: all the machines have attached TVs. Instead of listening to music or NPR, I’ve been watching some HGTV show where a couple came in $15,000 under their $800,000 renovation budget. I also rewatched Clueless, an awesome remake of Jane Austen’s even more awesome Emma.

Watching TV makes me feel like I’m on vacation.

Yesterday at the gym I saw Silver Linings Playbook. It stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro, so what’s not to like? It’s a well-acted, escapist romantic comedy, predictable in all the right places. In an early scene, Bradley Cooper rants about Hemingway’s morose conclusion to A Farewell to Arms after hurling the book through his bedroom window at 4 a.m. Where’s the silver lining, Hem? Where’s the happy ending? I’d be asking a different question altogether. Why are you reading this melodramatic book? I’m not a fan.

Years ago, my book club chose to read A Farewell to Arms. Two of the people in the book club hadn’t ever read The Sun Also Rises. They wanted to take the more obscure route. “Everyone reads The Sun Also Rises! We want to be different!” Um, hello. Everyone reads The Sun Also Rises for a reason. Also, life is short. Eat more vegetables and fewer baked Lay’s chips. Or if you really dig potato chips, eat more regular Lay’s and fewer baked Lay’s.

It’s like saying you want to carve your own path through Shakespeare’s plays, so you blow off Hamlet and Macbeth in favor of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Again, life is short. Eat vegetables or, in lieu of veggies, regular salty, greasy Lay’s.

The Sun Also Rises — now, there’s a book. The silver lining’s right there in the title, Bradley Cooper. Just sayin.

I just finished Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. The first half had me canceling my evening plans so’s I could pour through the pages. What happened to Amy? Was she murdered? Did her husband, Nick, do it?

Then I got to the second half of the book. Whoa. Seriously disappointing. A little boring even. All the more so because the two narrators, Amy and Nick, are so extraordinarily unreliable. There’s a difference between periodic self-protective elision and outright lying, and these two cross that line on practically every page of the first half of the novel. It’s as if someone wrote up the Dream Season of Dallas, where Bobby Ewing showers away an entire season’s worth of dream-sequence plot development. It makes you want to kill Bobby Ewing because you’re left questioning how many hours of your life you’ll never get back.

And once you really get to know Amy and Nick in the second half — I mean really get to know them — they become less sympathetic, more complex (Amy) and less complex (Nick), and collectively less interesting.

Yeah, I get that I’m standing against a big army of Gone Girl fans. Nonetheless, I finished the book and began counting the reading hours that are now forever gone, girl.

If I had $800,000 burning a hole in my pocket, I sure as hell wouldn’t use it to renovate my house. I’ve never seen two people so simultaneously excited about blowing an obscene amount of cash while saving $15K. Rich people confuse me.

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