WE ARE BAAAAAAAACK THE PODCAST IS REUNITEDDDDDDDD, not even this pandemic can keep us apaaaaaaaaaaart! It’s me and Whiskey Jenny, reunited to shoot the shit and discuss all the books we read in 2020 (all two of them). It’s magical! I love her so much! You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below, or download it directly to take with you on the go!
Things We Discussed
If the Boot Fits, Rebekah Weatherspoon
The King Must Die, Mary Renault
Fearing the Black Body, Sabrina Strings
Vanishing Falls, Poppy Gee
The Midnight Bargain, CL Polk
Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho
Chocolate olive oil cake from Smitten Kitchen
the Indian grocery store where I placed my online order!
Meera Sodha’s Bombay Rolls recipe
Real Men Knit, Kwana Jackson
Permanent Record, Mary HK Choi
We Ride Upon Sticks, Quan Berry
The Likeness, Tana French
Act of God, Jill Ciment
Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede
Sorcery and Cecilia, Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede
Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview
To Have and to Hoax, Martha Waters
To Love and to Loathe, Martha Waters
The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, Anne Carson
Death Wins a Goldfish, Brian Rea
Thorn, Intisar Khanani
The Dark Fantastic, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
Plain Bad Heroines, Emily Danforth
The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata, Gina Apostol
Star of the Sea, John O’Connor
You can get at me on Twitter, email the podcast, and friend me (Gin Jenny) and Whiskey Jenny on Goodreads. As a brand new feature, you can also follow me (Gin Jenny) and Whiskey Jenny on Storygraph! If you like what we do, support us on Patreon. Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Theme song by: Jessie Barbour
Gin Jenny: Welcome to the Reading the End Bookcast, with the Demographically Similar Jennys. I’m Gin Jenny.
Whiskey Jenny: And I’m Whiskey Jenny.
Gin Jenny: And we are back to talk about books and literary happenings. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk about what we are reading and making. We’re going to recap our reading in the year 2020, the year that lasted 1000 million years, and then we’re going to talk about Emily Danforth’s novel Plain Bad Heroines. Whiskey Jenny, it’s been a minute. I’ve missed you so much.
Whiskey Jenny: I have missed you so much too. It is a pleasure and an honor to be podcasting with you again.
Gin Jenny: What are you reading?
Whiskey Jenny: I am reading one of my, I forget what season but previous forthcoming preview—
Gin Jenny: Oh yeah, yay!
Whiskey Jenny: Which was If the Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon.
Gin Jenny: Remind me the premise? I know it’s Cinderella-based, but I can’t remember.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, so there’s a, it’s an actor and a Hollywood assistant have a one night stand, but she leaves the next morning, she accidentally gets his Oscar, and they get their gift bags— It’s Cinderella but she’s an assistant and he’s an actor, and then it turns out her best friend’s wedding is about to happen on his family ranch that does events. So they’re gonna have to, you know, work it all out.
Gin Jenny: Oh my God, that sounds great.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, so I’ve only just started it, I’m not very far in, but the assistant’s boss is horrible, and I’m hoping she’s not as horrible as she seems. I’m hoping that it’s gonna be like, Actually…
Gin Jenny: The next book’s about her, and she reforms!
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, exactly, yeah. Because right now, she seems pretty awful. I know and I don’t want that for anyone.
Gin Jenny: Well if she is awful. I’m confident that the heroine will find a new better exciting job.
Whiskey Jenny: I feel safe in Rebekah Weatherspoon’s hands, who I think we both said should be more — Is she famous yet?
Gin Jenny: I mean, you know, in some circles, but like she’s not as famous as she should be. She should be on the like New York Times bestseller list.
Whiskey Jenny: I do too. I think she’s so great.
Gin Jenny: But I think, you know, the time is coming.
Whiskey Jenny: Is she on the uptick?
Gin Jenny: I don’t know, but I hope so! I feel like a lot of authors that, the romance authors specifically, that I used to be like, oh they should be better known, are like, on their way up.
Whiskey Jenny: Great. Where are you reading right now?
Gin Jenny: What am I reading? I finished three books last night that I had been reading for what felt like 1000 years.
Whiskey Jenny: Shut the front door! Three?
Gin Jenny: Yes, I mean, I was very close to the end of all of them, but I was like, you know what, I’m not having this, I’m gonna sit down and finish these books.
Whiskey Jenny: Goodness, I’m so impressed.
Gin Jenny: Thank you. So one of them was a reread of The King Must Die by Mary Renault and one was Fearing the Black Body, by Sabrina Strings, which is about like the racial origins of fatphobia. Yeah, it was very interesting, and I, there was some third book, I swear to God, but I just… Oh, oh, it was Vanishing Falls by Poppy Gee or Gee. It’s spelled G E E. Which is a mystery novel set in Tasmania.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh, how was it?
Gin Jenny: It was pretty good. I enjoyed it. She had a list at the end of the book of like her favorite book set in Tasmania, and I was like, great! I’m going to read all of those! And my library has two of them so. And it was not the most exciting sounding two.
Whiskey Jenny: Is the author from Tasmania?
Gin Jenny: She is!
Whiskey Jenny: Excellent. I feel like there’s this weird— I mean, not weird, it goes back to colonialism, but there’s a trend in mysteries where white expats write like a ton of the popular mystery novels set in non-western countries. Uh huh. I am guilty of perpetrating and reading and enjoying those books, but I’ve been trying to do better and seek out mysteries by native authors. But I’m just putting it out there in the universe for recommendations to come my way, so that I can avoid the white expats. Not that they’re not enjoyable as well, you know. You know!
Gin Jenny: I think I probably have some recommendations but let me think about it more. Anyway, what I’m actually reading is The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk, which is a fantasy novel. It’s super fun, it’s set, it’s like secondary world fantasy, but the world it’s set in is kind of reminiscent of Jane Austen’s era of like, Regency-era books. So the premise is that women go into the main city, and they’re on like the marriage market, basically. Our main gal is a like sorceress and she wants to like learn more and more sorcery and get better and better at it, but if she gets married, they do a thing that like prevents women from doing sorcery.
Whiskey Jenny: No! No!
Gin Jenny: Right, exactly, but her father has like mortgaged all their assets to pay for her season so that like… You’re making a face and I understand why, but it is actually like quite enjoyable.
Whiskey Jenny: It sounds so stressful and horrible, but I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it.
Gin Jenny: It reminds me a little bit of Sorcerer to the Crown, and books like that, so I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s very, very— And I don’t think she’s gonna end up getting married and being stuck in that bad situation.
Whiskey Jenny: What’s the tone, I will ask?
Gin Jenny: It’s not quite as light-hearted as the tone of Sorcerer to the Crown, but it’s pretty light-hearted. So I’m enjoying it a lot.
Whiskey Jenny: Well, I hope it remains enjoyable, and that nothing terrible happens, which is what I hope for most books.
Gin Jenny: So for today we’re talking about what we’re making. I’m very proud of myself. Whiskey Jenny, what are you making?
Whiskey Jenny: I made a vegan, gluten-free cake. That was good! Which I say with surprise because I’m not traditionally a vegan or gluten-free baker, so I don’t have a lot of experience in those realms. It was a chocolate olive oil cake that was originally a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and I learned that this sort of cake has its roots in Depression-era baking, because there wasn’t any eggs or butter. That was a fun historical tidbit. And then I tweaked it, and we had these really delicious mandarin oranges, so I, instead of using water, I used their juice, and I added some of their zest to it, and it was like mandarin orange chocolate cake and it was, it was pretty good. Oh, and I used oat flour instead of flour flour to make it gluten-free, because I’m slightly nut-averse. I’ll say averse instead of allergic. So yeah, vegan, gluten-free mandarin chocolate cake.
Gin Jenny: Boy, that’s amazing. That sounds great.
Whiskey Jenny: What have you been making?
Gin Jenny: So, my one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to cook one new recipe per month for dinner, like dinner recipe, because I’m not a very adventurous cook, and I felt like some of my old stuff had been getting kind of, I was tired of it. I want to try some new things, especially because as I have mentioned too often perhaps on this podcast and the internet because I’m so proud of myself, I learned to make doubles in quarantine. It was a huge cooking victory for me.
Whiskey Jenny: They sounded amazing.
Gin Jenny: They are good. I’m so excited to make them for you when the times are normal. And so it’s, it’s made me feel like empowered to try other additional things. So, I just did a, I ordered a big boatload of Indian groceries from Kalyustan’s, which ships Indian groceries, which is great. So I got some of the like spices and stuff that I needed and couldn’t get locally without actually going into a store, which I’m not doing, and I made chana masala from Meera Sodha’s cookbook, and it came out pretty good. I have tried to make chana masala numerous times and have not come up with the result that I was happy with, but this came out really good. And I did an innovation off my own bat, which is that I tasted it, and I was like, this is pretty good, but I think it would be better if I added, amchur powder and cayenne red pepper.
Whiskey Jenny: What is amchur powder?
Gin Jenny: It’s like dried mango powder. It was one of the things that I had ordered from the Indian grocery. It definitely worked. It made it so delicious.
Whiskey Jenny: Nice! Look at you! Innovating and saying baseball metaphors!
Gin Jenny: I tasted it, I was like man, I feel like it needs like a citrus. Do I dare put lemons in it or would that be bad? And then I was like, wait, you have this other thing that’s not exactly a citrus but it’s sort of close ish.
Whiskey Jenny: Uh huh. That sounds delicious. I haven’t had Indian food in ages I should make some.
Gin Jenny: Oh man, we’ve been ordering Indian food a lot, and it’s very good.
Whiskey Jenny: Problem is my mom doesn’t like cumin, and I don’t know how to make Indian food that doesn’t have cumin in it.
Gin Jenny: Well, I’ll look at my I’ve got like a whole backlog of Indian recipes that I’ve saved, so I’ll look through them and see. There’s this recipe that definitely doesn’t have cumin, but it’s also not a main dish. They’re called like Bombay rolls and you have puff pastry and you put like cilantro and mint chutney on them, and some other stuff and then you roll up and bake them.
Whiskey Jenny: Well, that sounds great.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, they look great.
Whiskey Jenny: That sounds delicious. She doesn’t like cilantro either but I’m just gonna make those just for me.
Gin Jenny: So Whiskey Jenny, do you want to talk about 2020? Not the year itself, it was so stupid, but books?
Whiskey Jenny: I do want to talk about books in 2020, but it’s going to be, even that is going to be a weird, weird. It’s weird. Weird. I can’t help it. I’m sorry, but yes, let’s go, let’s get into it.
Gin Jenny: Yeah. All right, let’s get into it. So I want to start with just podcast books because I feel very confident in my best and worst for you.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh, okay, let’s do it. Let’s do it. Let’s do worst. This is telling me that I’m wrong,
Gin Jenny: Is it?
Whiskey Jenny: Yes, about my picks for you.
Gin Jenny: Why?
Whiskey Jenny: Because in a historical move, for the first time ever, I picked the same one for the both of us.
Gin Jenny: For both?
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah.
Gin Jenny: Whoa.
Whiskey Jenny: I’m picking up that uh, you didn’t do that so I must be wrong, but anyway, doesn’t matter. I don’t need to Clue this out.
Gin Jenny: Okay, so I thought your worst would be Real Men Knit.
Whiskey Jenny: Nope! It was Permanent Record.
Gin Jenny: Oh, I forgot about Permanent Record. I mean I looked at our full list when I was doing this and obviously I just discounted it. Okay, all right, Permanent Record, fair enough.
Whiskey Jenny: But I would say, the gap between expectation and enjoyment was the largest for Real Men Knit.
Gin Jenny: I think that’s why I picked it because I didn’t like, it was a huge letdown for you.
Whiskey Jenny: I mean, and no shots to the book or the author. It just was not what I wanted. It was a letdown but I think, like, on a scale of one to 10 enjoyment-wise, Permanent Record was still lower, alas.
Gin Jenny: All right, that makes sense. Well, so I think that I was sort of projecting then on you in terms of like expectation gap versus reality and the reading experience it produced.
Whiskey Jenny: Interesting. Since I already spoiled it I thought that Permanent Record would have been your least favorite as well
Gin Jenny: It was We Ride Upon Sticks.
Whiskey Jenny: Really? Man, I knew you didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t know you didn’t enjoy it that much, or that little
Gin Jenny: I think it was exactly a function of what we said, that like I really, I had very high expectations for it, and then reading it I was like, Mmmm. Well, so I had picked two as your potential best, and having listened to you say that you picked the same one for both of us, I remain unenlightened.
Whiskey Jenny: Okay, well you say your pick, because if I say mine, it spoils both.
Gin Jenny: Oh, right. Okay, so I think your favorite was Take a Hint, Dani Brown.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh! No.
Gin Jenny: But my second guess was Vanishing Half.
Whiskey Jenny: Yes!
Gin Jenny: I think I get like half a point for that and no points for the first one.
Whiskey Jenny: I think you do too. Oh can I pick a second guess?
Gin Jenny: Yes, of course!
Whiskey Jenny: Since it’s not The Vanishing Half. Thorn!
Gin Jenny: So yeah, it was a toss up for me between Thorn and Take a Hint, Dani Brown, and I couldn’t choose between them.
Whiskey Jenny: Fascinating.
Gin Jenny: Why, why? I mean I loved Vanishing Half, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like in terms of like what I’ll return to, it is probably one of those two.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh that’s fair. No, I feel like usually we at least get one right and we didn’t get any right. Fuck you, 2020!
Gin Jenny: It’s probably because I haven’t been able to visit you recently. I’ve lost my keen grasp of your psyche.
Whiskey Jenny: No, no, it’s still there, but I do want to visit you.
Gin Jenny: Me too. Very much.
Whiskey Jenny: Interesting.
Gin Jenny: I mean, I guess I’m not surprised because it’s not that you’ve told me anything I didn’t already know about like your general reading tastes.
Whiskey Jenny: Interesting, interesting. We also had a smaller pool this year.
Gin Jenny: Which you would think would make it easier!
Whiskey Jenny: Shhhhhh. With your logic!
Gin Jenny: I was actually gonna ask before we get into like our actual superlatives: How was your 2020 as a reading year overall?
Whiskey Jenny: Uh, small. It’s even more shameful for someone who hosts a — Not shameful, but even more disappointing for someone who cohosts a podcast about reading but I did not do a lot of reading last year.
Gin Jenny: I did way less than in previous years, which is weird because I have nothing else to do.
Whiskey Jenny: Right? What do I do all day? I feel like I just work, and cook, and then clean up after cooking and that’s it, and sleep.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, that’s it. I don’t do anything. I don’t understand where my time goes!
Whiskey Jenny: Where does it go? The stats of 2021 are on the upswing already, which I’m taking as a promising sign both towards my own mental health, and the world in general.
Gin Jenny: Oh, yes, I didn’t read as much in 2020 but when I was looking back at my reading year, I read a lot of books that I really loved. So I think like, despite reading less, I’m gonna still call it a win, because I found a lot of really great books.
Whiskey Jenny: Well that’s good. That’s exciting. It’s also surprising to look back at how few books I had read in 2020. When you’re sort of in the midst of it, you’re like, you know, it’s just this one week or something.
Gin Jenny: But no, it’s every week!
Whiskey Jenny: It’s every week, it was every week. I did reread a lot more last year.
Gin Jenny: Oh that sounds so nice! Yeah, I’m trying to reread more this year. I’m trying to like have at least one reread book on the go all the time.
Whiskey Jenny: How did you feel about podcast reads in general? You know what we should mention? Together, we didn’t read any white men.
Gin Jenny: Oh that’s right, I forgot about that. Yeah and I feel great about it I do not feel that my reading was impoverished.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh God no, not at all. I feel great about it as well, and I will also say I don’t think we, I mean, obviously we always try and make sure we read diversely, but we didn’t set that as a goal. But I will say I noticed it about halfway through the year, and then I didn’t ever want to be the one to break the numbers. I was like, well if she doesn’t, I can’t! I think it turned out really well.
Gin Jenny: I just read a lot fewer white men if I don’t have to. And I feel like because there’s so much good stuff being written in all the genres that I love the best… It’s been nice. Way to go, publishing.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, you’re not gonna like what I have for Hatening.
Gin Jenny: You know, obviously I read some books by white guys, but like yeah it’s definitely not the bulk of my reading.
Whiskey Jenny: And I’m glad we didn’t for podcast, and I hope we can keep it up at least majority non-white.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, totally.
Whiskey Jenny: I’m gonna bring the numbers down for the Hatening.
Gin Jenny: Oh God, I’m excited and dreading it.
Whiskey Jenny: We mostly read American though! We only read one non-American author.
Gin Jenny: Yikes, we gotta do better.
Whiskey Jenny: I know, yeah.
Gin Jenny: But not with Irish guys though.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh, you’re not gonna like Hatening at all, which is like kind of cheated because I did it last time but it went so well!
Gin Jenny: Except it didn’t go that well because you didn’t like it either.
Whiskey Jenny: That’s fair, that’s fair. A good time was had by all though.
Gin Jenny: All right, well, what’s a book that you unexpectedly, not in a planned way book that you hated?
Whiskey Jenny: Again, there were so few that I read this year that it was almost difficult to do these superlatives. I think I also worked really hard to avoid books that I thought I wasn’t going to like. It wasn’t as much of an unexpected thing but I went with a book that I liked the least, which is coincidentally The Likeness, by Tana French, who is a mystery writer that people just adore, and I didn’t love her first one, but I thought I would give it another try, and I didn’t love the second one either. So I think I have successfully determined she’s just not the gal for me and that’s okay.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, same here as she’s also not the gal for me. Unfortunately, I would like her to be.
Whiskey Jenny: I would too! People love her, there were things about the two books that I liked, but just in general, not my bag of tricks. What was your unexpected hate?
Gin Jenny: So mine was a book called Act of God by Jill Ciment. I’m not sure how to say it, C I M E N T. I don’t remember who recommended this to me but it’s been on my to be read list for a really long time, and I finally read it in December of last year, and I didn’t like it at all. It’s about this glowing fungus that shows up in New York apartment buildings, and I don’t like fungus. And I hated the people died from it, and it was honestly like too close to real fears.
Whiskey Jenny: Wait, you read a book about a deadly substance?
Gin Jenny: Yeah.
Whiskey Jenny: Infecting people in December 2020?
Gin Jenny: Yeah, I didn’t really 100% understand what the contents of the book were gonna be
Whiskey Jenny: Boy, you’re a better woman than I am.
Gin Jenny: Well I’m not because I hated it, although the book I unexpectedly love also features a deadly fungus. So, you know, who knows, Whiskey Jenny.
Whiskey Jenny: Turns out you do like fungus!
Gin Jenny: I don’t!
Whiskey Jenny: You heard it here first!
Gin Jenny: If I get athlete’s foot I like freak the hell out which is a very like overall completely harmless fungus but yet I’m like, I’m infected. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone. It really triggers my contamination issues.
Whiskey Jenny: You don’t like fungus, yeah.
Gin Jenny: I really do not.
Whiskey Jenny: And yet, tell us your unexpectedly loved book.
Gin Jenny: Okay, so my unexpectedly loved book was Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Whiskey Jenny: My dad gave me that for Christmas, I haven’t read it yet.
Gin Jenny: Well I really loved it. The reason I didn’t necessarily expect to is my track record with this author is that I’ve enjoyed all her books that I’ve read, but they have always been sort of not quite exactly my thing, so I thought this was gonna be fine. And then I like loved it. It’s a gothic novel set in 1950s Mexico, and it is so scary and creepy. It’s like the perfect example of a gothic novel. It’s like creepy in all the ways you want a gothic novel to be creepy, and I just loved it. I thought it was stupendous.
Whiskey Jenny: Good to know. Is there a love story as well?
Gin Jenny: Yes, yes, but as with all gothic novels, you don’t know if like, the guy’s cool and really into her, or if he is potentially a murderer, which is the fun of gothic novels, I feel. What about you?
Whiskey Jenny: Book I unexpectedly loved was actually a reread, which was the Dealing with Dragon series by Patricia C Wrede.
Gin Jenny: I love that series.
Whiskey Jenny: Me too, and I’d loved it as a, as a youth, but had not revisited it in adulthood and I was worried, it wasn’t going to hold up or it’s going to be sort of like too young and I couldn’t recapture the magic but it was still just like such a little confection. I had the best time. I ended up listening on audio for two, three, and four, just not the first one. There are full ensemble cast audiobooks.
Gin Jenny: Oh my gosh that’s amazing
Whiskey Jenny: Which are so fun. Some of the voices I was like this is not who I would have picked but it’s fine. I can’t have everything. The voice that they picked for the rabbit who turns into a donkey was just like, so opposite for— It was so, like, slow and—
Gin Jenny: And what were you picturing?
Whiskey Jenny: More rabbity!
Gin Jenny: Yeah, that’s what that’s what I was just thinking.
Whiskey Jenny: He’s a rabbit who’s a donkey, he’s not a donkey who’s a rabbit.
Gin Jenny: Get your head out of your ass, audiobook.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, this is who I would have picked to voice like—
Gin Jenny: A donkey who had turned into a rabbit, as you so correctly stated.
Whiskey Jenny: Exactly. It was a very like slow galumphing voice, but anyway it was still a great experience. There was a period of time where I was avoiding screens, I had a teeny tiny concussion so I had to avoid them, and so I did a lot of audiobook listening. This is bleeding over into 2021 so I’m cheating a little bit, but I started the series in 2020, and they were just, they really held up!
Gin Jenny: Boy, you have really engendered in me a desire to read those books.
Whiskey Jenny: It’ll take you like one night, I mean the audiobooks will take longer but like they’re so short, they were great.
Gin Jenny: The Patricia C. Wrede book that I reread the most obviously is Sorcery and Cecelia: Magic and Crumpets, but I like some of her other books a lot and I really have not read the Dragons books in like years. Boy, you’re a genius.
Whiskey Jenny: Highly recommend. There was some stuff in the beginning about like princesses are boring.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, I feel like we’ve moved past that as a culture, yeah it was a counterbalance to what was going on.
Whiskey Jenny: Exactly, yeah.
Gin Jenny: It was long before Meghan Markle, uh…
Whiskey Jenny: Holy shit! I can’t stop thinking about it! I can’t think about it so much that she said, and the fact that they got married before the wedding that we all saw his bullet point number like, 11. In any other interview, that’d’ve been like wait what?? I love that they got to have that special moment. I think it’s really sweet but also like, no one’s even talking about it!
Gin Jenny: Yeah they’re having a girl! That’s also barely being talked about. So excited for them! 100% chance they name the child Diana!
Whiskey Jenny: [heartrending gasp] Oh, God.
Gin Jenny: I mean I don’t know! I thought William was gonna name his daughter Diana and he didn’t, so what the hell do I know?
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah well, screw William.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, down with William.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh my god, oh my god.
Gin Jenny: Yeah it was a lot.
Whiskey Jenny: Boy, you really got me with that. Of course they are! Of course they are, though! Jesus!
Gin Jenny: My friend, I kind of was like, oh I have to watch the Oprah interview and she was like, why?, and I was like, Oh sit down and I’ll tell you, and she didn’t really know anything about the British Royal Family. I was like, all right, well, I’m on this walk and you’re just gonna hear about it! And she’s like very sort of you know—not that we all don’t want to topple the patriarchy, but she really does a lot, and she does like labor organizing and stuff so like the Royals are really not her thing at all. But she messaged me today and she was like, I cannot stop reading about the Royals What have you done to me?
Whiskey Jenny: Aw, yay!
Gin Jenny: Yay! Anyway.
Whiskey Jenny: Anyway, where were we? .
Gin Jenny: So, the Oprah interview got a lot of attention. What’s a book that should have gotten more attention? See, I’ve done a segue there!
Whiskey Jenny: Seamless.
Gin Jenny: I still got it.
Whiskey Jenny: Amazing. I really enjoyed To Have and to Hoax, by Martha Waters, which was a period romance that I read last year that I didn’t hear about anywhere. Again, this could be on me for not—for being, like in the void, I think as someone referred to it. The structure of it was something I had not read before and, you know, that’s pretty rare for Regency romance. So these two people fall in love and get married, but then they have this huge fight, and the book basically starts five years later and they don’t even speak to each other. But it’s Regency so they’re still married. And they got to work it out! They’re obviously still in love, spoiler alert.
Gin Jenny: So I wasn’t sure you would like that—because I read that too, I did enjoy it. I wasn’t sure you would like it because it’s got pranks and you hate pranks.
Whiskey Jenny: Well, sounds like I hate fun
Gin Jenny: No it doesn’t! Pranks are terrible!
Whiskey Jenny: I mean, I’d love a small harmless prank, I think you’re right, it could have gone awry, because there’s a lot of lying as well in this book but I think most of the lies they don’t have to hold on to for very long. They get revealed and then there’s like a different lie, and then that one gets revealed. I would just like to mention the prank that you pulled on me and Snapple Alex when we were all living together.
Gin Jenny: I’ve just done air quotes to indicate how not a prank this was.
Whiskey Jenny: I think about this so much, it was such a sweet Gin Jenny thing to do. She was secretly refilling the soap in the bathroom, and waiting for us to be like huh, this soap, it’s, it’s magic. Both Alex and I were so clueless that we were— like we’re so oblivious that we were both just like, wow I guess we use less soap than we thought.
Gin Jenny: It was months. And at least once I would be like, Hey guys, do we need more soap? and they’d be like, No, we have plenty of soap.
Whiskey Jenny: It still seems full to me! Like we were so oblivious to magic happening before our eyes. It was the magic regenerative soap dish in our bathroom and we are like, eh, I guess you don’t need to buy soap today.
Gin Jenny: I mean you shouldn’t question magic when it happens to you, I guess. It’s actually funny because I’m doing a version of that same exact thing right now, and I guess we’ll find out what happens.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh, keep us posted.
Gin Jenny: I think I can say this because my dad definitely does not listen to this podcast. So he has been having some health issues recently, and my sister was talking to me and she was like, Listen, I gotta confess, I bought $100 worth of Girl Scout cookies, so they’ll just have a lot of Girl Scout cookies on hand for my dad; and I was like, oh my god, I also bought $100 of Girl Scout cookies for the exact same reason. And then she thought this was really funny and so she told this to our oldest sister, and our older sister was like, oh my god I also bought $100 worth of Girl Scout cookies.
Whiskey Jenny: This is the sweetest family story ever, and it’s not even over. Okay, keep going.
Gin Jenny: So we just all have a lot of Thin Mints, and we’re just kind of doling them out to my dad, as you know, we feel he needs them.
Whiskey Jenny: Are you sneaking the boxes into his home?
Gin Jenny: No, we just have an endless supply so at some point in the year, one presumes he’s going to be like, this is still somehow happening even though Girl Scout Cookie season ended a really long time ago. I don’t think he’s ever gonna notice. I think my mom might.
Whiskey Jenny: I don’t think he’s ever gonna notice either. I don’t think I would! I think I would just be like, Oh great! More Girl Scout Cookies! Thanks!
Gin Jenny: I mean I have like 20 boxes of Thin Mints, you know.
Whiskey Jenny: So he’s a Thin Mint man.
Gin Jenny: Yeah. Oh 100%. Yeah, he does not stray, like I like some different Girl Scout cookies, but yeah he’s 100% Thin Mints all the time.
Whiskey Jenny: So your mom’s not in on it either. Interesting. Interesting. Well, keep us posted.
Gin Jenny: I will. On my non-prank prank.
Whiskey Jenny: So you also read To Have and to Hoax. What did you think?
Gin Jenny: I enjoyed it! I thought it was really fun, and there’s a sequel coming out so I’m excited to— I forget what it’s called but it looks also fun.
Whiskey Jenny: Do you know who’s in it?
Gin Jenny: To Love and to Loathe.
Whiskey Jenny: Is it one of the friends, and by the friends?
Gin Jenny: Oh, it’s the widowed lady, Diana.
Whiskey Jenny: Diana! And the guy, the friend. Good good. I did like them, they had good banter. What is your book that you wish had gotten more attention, like the Meghan Markle and Harry interview?
Gin Jenny: Okay so I cheated a little bit. This is a 2020 book but it was like one of the first books I read in 2021.
Whiskey Jenny: I’ll allowed it.
Gin Jenny: But it published in 2020 and I feel like it kind of like disappeared into the void and I’m so sad about it.
Whiskey Jenny: I’m so sad for any author who published in 2020!
Gin Jenny: Me too, especially a debut author, which this one was.
Whiskey Jenny: God, I’m sorry.
Gin Jenny: Anyway, the book is The Space Between Worlds, it’s by Micaiah Johnson. It is so good, it absolutely blew my mind, it’s about this woman who works for a company, and their whole deal is that they send like travelers between alternate universes, to get stuff and learn stuff and do missions. But the problem is, if your counterpart, so if the like Whiskey Jenny in the next world over is alive and you, Whiskey Jenny, travel to that world, you’ll probably die.
Whiskey Jenny: I will or she will?
Gin Jenny: You will. You the traveler will. So the way that the company recruits people to do this work is they look for people who are more likely to have died young, in alternate universes so they’re like child soldiers.
Whiskey Jenny: Woof.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, right, exactly! So the protagonist is one of those people, and she grew up in like the sort of slums, which are run by like a, you know crime boss guy. She’s only alive in like seven of the like 300 possible universes.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh, they know?
Gin Jenny: They’ve been able to send travelers to those universes and be like, look for people, you know, in each one who were dead. Yeah, yeah, so it’s about her, and there’s so many like plot twists and turns that I can’t even like hardly describe what it’s about but it’s, it’s so good. It was so like twisty turny, and I loved all the characters, and all the people you thought you understood who they were, it kept getting like turned on its head, and they like knew more than you thought they knew, or they, you know, had hidden depths you didn’t know about. It was just a great book, and even though it was pretty dark, I feel like the way the ending was left space for any of the characters to become the best versions of themselves, if they wanted to. Yeah! Even though it’s quite dark, I still found it pretty hopeful in the end, and it just was like a really, I loved it. I can’t say enough about it. It was so so so so good, and it’s a debut, and it was so good and like assured and smart and I loved it.
Whiskey Jenny: Wow.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, The Space between Worlds. Y’all should get on it, it’s so good.
Whiskey Jenny: Is there gonna be another one?
Gin Jenny: She’s not done writing, but I don’t think she’s doing a sequel to this one, or at least as far as I know.
Whiskey Jenny: Anyway, where were we?
Gin Jenny: We were at best book title.
Whiskey Jenny: Best book title! What is your best book title?
Gin Jenny: My best book title is Norma Jeane Baker of Troy by Anne Carson. That makes me laugh every time I think about it. Norma Jeane Baker, in case anyone doesn’t know, is Marilyn Monroe’s actual name before she changed it to Marilyn Monroe, and it’s a book of poetry and I loved it.
Whiskey Jenny: Mine is Death Wins a Goldfish.
Gin Jenny: That’s great!
Whiskey Jenny: Isn’t that so cute? It’s by Brian Rea, who I think is like a New Yorker illustrator. It is really really cute. It’s an illustrated little gift sort of style book, do you know what I mean? Wherein Death, he’s never gone on vacation and he’s acquired all these vacation days., I guess in this universe, there’s lots of Deaths that work at the Death Corporation. He is but one Death. They make him use his vacation days, and so he goes out in the world, and he’s just really cute like little pencil sketch drawings, and at one point he wins a goldfish at a carnival and it’s just like, unsurprisingly melancholy but oddly, sweet and beautiful. Podcast composer Jessie put me on to it, so hat tip to Jessie for the rec.
Gin Jenny: That sounds amazing. I will definitely get it at my library if possible.
Whiskey Jenny: Do try and get the hardcopy. As with the book we read for for podcast, podcast.
Gin Jenny: Yes, oh my god, yes, great point. What was your favorite book cover of the year?
Whiskey Jenny: Well, I guess I’ll go for a genre. I’m still really enjoying that the like flowery covers are still a thing. You know what I mean.
Gin Jenny: Yeah I do! The like Instagram ready ones. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Whiskey Jenny: Yes exactly! That genre, there were like all those articles like, why do all the covers look like that? And I’m not mad at it I’m still into them. I think there’s also, all the romance novels that I was looking at and particularly enjoyed last year have like a really bright background with sort of a sans serif cover font, and one cute little illustration. I think that’s sort of a big trend, and I’m enjoying that trend as well. But my actual favorite cover was Thorn.
Gin Jenny: Oh yes, I love the cover of Thorn.
Whiskey Jenny: Thorn is gorgeous, it’s got this like beautiful intricate patterns, and it’s pretty teal, it’s just so cool.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, It’s really pretty. I was looking at the cover for the companion novel that has come out by the time this podcast airs, and it is just as beautiful, it’s so pretty. Oh, just beautiful to look at.
What was your favorite book cover?
Whiskey Jenny: My favorite book cover of books I read last year was The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. The cover art is by this amazing artist called Paul Lewin, and it’s an image of a woman holding out her hand to a red hummingbird, and it’s just really beautiful, like I would put it on my wall. It’s so pretty. And all his stuff is gorgeous. I’m subscribed to his newsletter now because I was like, I just want to see these things.
That sounds fun.
Gin Jenny: Yeah! We decided not to do new year’s resolutions this year, we’re very old.
Whiskey Jenny: We’re very old! We’ve got enough going on, man!
Gin Jenny: I can barely handle all the working and sitting I’m already doing!
Whiskey Jenny: Seriously. But I would like to mention my one resolution for the writing industry.
Gin Jenny: Fantastic. Go.
Whiskey Jenny: No more passages from the point of view of the creepy killer, or the creepy stalker. We just don’t need it. We don’t need it.
Gin Jenny: It adds nothing. I couldn’t agree more.
Whiskey Jenny: It adds nothing. All it tells us is the creepy person is creepy.
Gin Jenny: Which we knew!
Whiskey Jenny: And then it gives you this like weird permission to be gross, and you don’t have that permission! Away with it!
Gin Jenny: I completely agree.
Whiskey Jenny: Anything you wanted to decree?
Gin Jenny: Yeah, so I have three actually, but they’re all pretty much the same resolution as each other and as what you just said. Number one, don’t publish books by fascists. It’s so simple.
Whiskey Jenny: It’s so easy.
Gin Jenny: There’s so many Trump administration people who might want to publish a book and rehab their image. Don’t do it!
Whiskey Jenny: Don’t you do it! They’re gonna do it.
Gin Jenny: They’re definitely gonna do it.
Whiskey Jenny: But they don’t have to!
Gin Jenny: They don’t have to! It’s a choice that they’re making. All right, number two.
Whiskey Jenny: Yep.
Gin Jenny: Another thing they’re definitely going to do. No more Nazi romances, just stop with the Nazi romances.
Whiskey Jenny: Oh, they’re super gonna do that.
Gin Jenny: To be clear, I don’t want to do any of this ideological nickel and diming where you’re like, well, the hero of this book did fight in the German army during World War Two, but he had to, so he’s not technically 100% all the way a Nazi. Like, just don’t do it! Just don’t do it!
Whiskey Jenny: For some reason, I decided to look up the plot of that final Star Wars movie that you told me wasn’t worth the time watching, and it made me so angry. And like… you Google Kylo Ren, and it’s like—
Gin Jenny: I think that’s one of my many reasons why this resolution is a good idea, so people can have a brain cleanse from wanting to humanize the Nazis! We actually just don’t need to do that! Nazis are a going concern in the country right now, so we just don’t need to worry about it.
Whiskey Jenny: We need to worry about the present ones!
Gin Jenny: And that they’re bad, and we don’t want to be them, or date them.
Whiskey Jenny: No I don’t.
Gin Jenny: Thirdly and finally, I feel bad saying these are all the same because this one is of course quite different, but no more books about how hard it is to be related to a disabled person. Fiction or nonfiction. Like, I’m aware that the failed infrastructure and crumbling safety net in the US, it’s very hard and draining to be a caretaker, etc. And I have personal experience with that. However, like, this is the only story people keep telling about disabled people, and it creates this idea that like disabled people are people who get talked about and like can’t speak for themselves, which is not true. So I’ve decided to place a 10 year moratorium on books of this type.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, I think that’s fair.
Gin Jenny: And I may renew it, when the 10 years are up. We’re gonna see how things are.
Whiskey Jenny: It’s a lease-to-own sort of a deal. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Gin Jenny: Also I decided just for my personal life, I’ve decided to stop saying something aged badly if what I mean is that it’s racist. Because if it’s racist now, it’s also racist then. I can still say something aged badly if like we acquired new information. So like if I 10 years ago was like, I think Chris Pratt is the best Chris because he’s funny, which I would not have said 10 years ago, but if I had, and now it’s now, and we know he sucks, I think it would be fair to say that statement aged badly.
Whiskey Jenny: We do know he sucks, why do we keep litigating it? We know he sucks! Stop bringing it up! We solved it!
Gin Jenny: We cracked the case.
Whiskey Jenny: We know the answer: He sucks. He’s the worst Chris!
Gin Jenny: Yeah, nominate new Chrises to the Chris consortium.
Whiskey Jenny: Truly! They don’t all have to be white, to begin with.
Gin Jenny: So yeah that’s all the resolutions for the publishing industry! I suspect they’re going to do— Let me look back over at them. None of those things.
Whiskey Jenny: No they’re not.
Gin Jenny: But they should though.
Whiskey Jenny: Yes, and we can only hope and keep trying and pushing the needle infinitesimally further one way.
Gin Jenny: And hope for the best.
Whiskey Jenny: So I have a coworker in England whose child is in primary school, and one of the child’s classmates was family was moving away, they’re going to a different school, so the class was doing this little like zoom gathering to remember their time with the child. You know, like a little like, goodbye party, but the child’s name is Hope, so all these emails kept flying around about like, Hope is leaving us this Friday. On Friday, we’re saying goodbye to Hope!
Gin Jenny: So my, my soap opera, Guiding Light, one of the characters, she had this baby who she was going to name Hope, but I think someone kidnapped the baby at the time of its birth. So Cassie just kept for like the rest of the year, she kept being like, ever since I’ve lost Hope.
Whiskey Jenny: I didn’t know you used to watch a soap opera.
Gin Jenny: Oh my God, Guiding Light. Yes I did. I really loved it.
Whiskey Jenny: When did you watch it?
Gin Jenny: The first time I watched it was in, I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but like younger than high school, I think, which is when they cloned Reva, which was very exciting.
Whiskey Jenny: Oooh, cloning!
Gin Jenny: Yeah, her plane went down on the desert island, and it was believed she was dead, so her grieving husband had her cloned, which is like not in line with the general rules of the soap opera. It was like a weird thing that they did.
Whiskey Jenny: This is not a thing that they have in this—
Gin Jenny: No.
Whiskey Jenny: But see, I love that soaps are just like, fuck it, we’ll try it! What a great, great way to look at it.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, so they cloned Reva, and they had like an aging potion that they gave the clone to like, age her up to Josh’s age, so that he could marry her again,
Whiskey Jenny: Wait, they cloned a baby?
Gin Jenny: Well that’s how clones work.
Whiskey Jenny: Is it? I don’t know how clones work.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, if you clone a sheep, it starts from an embryo or whatever.
Whiskey Jenny: Did that know that. Cool, so they have a baby sheep. I mean, they have a baby woman.
Gin Jenny: Baby Reva, yeah. A baby, as we call it.
Whiskey Jenny: Yep, sorry. And they gave her an aging potion. Oh boy, do they kindly and thoughtfully explore the ethics of this decision?
Gin Jenny: Yeah, of course, in great depth. Naturally. No, what actually happened is that Original Recipe Reva was alive after all, and she eventually made it back to whatever it was called, Springfield or whatever. But, by that time, the clone was grown and in love with her husband, Josh, so when Reva came back, the clone kidnapped her and imprisoned her, like in a room in the house, like a secret room. So she had Reva imprisoned for all this time and eventually Josh found her and rescued her, and he was like, Oh my beloved wife, and then the clone saw their pure love for each other, and a while later took all the aging potion to kill herself so that Reva and Josh could be together, and that was like the termination of that arc.
Whiskey Jenny: Goodness. A lot to unpack there.
Gin Jenny: Yeah.
Whiskey Jenny: I watched The Young and the Restless when I was in college in France. It was great. It was dubbed in French. I watched it with my host mom when I could, and when I couldn’t watch it, she would catch me up on what happened.
Gin Jenny: Oh, that’s the best.
Whiskey Jenny: And the French title translation of The Young and the Restless is The Fires of Love. But I’m starting to think I picked the wrong one, because Young and the Restless is just about like, who’s banging who and who’s doing what business deal with whom. There are no clothes or anything like that. That sounds fun!
Gin Jenny: The clone thing was an outlier. But to be clear, like I really enjoyed it when it was just a standard soap opera. You know how it is, like all the evil people are on their way to becoming good and reforming, and all the good people are like, potentially teetering on the edge of becoming evil, and it’s like, yeah, it’s just a fun time.
Whiskey Jenny: It is a real fun time.
Gin Jenny: And anytime the actors have chemistry, no matter who they are to each other, the soap opera people are immediately like, yeah.
Whiskey Jenny: They’re on it! They’re on it!
Gin Jenny: They’re on it, every single time!
Whiskey Jenny: The like main power couple on The Young and the Restless is… I just thought this was so funny! Is named like Nicole and Victor, and their kids are a male Nicholas, Nicky, and a female Victoria, or something like that. Like they’ve genderswapped their names, which is really confusing in French.
Gin Jenny: That is so stupid, but in like such, the best proper way.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah! Soap Opera Appreciation Month!
Gin Jenny: And also can CBS please put Guiding Light on your app so I can watch it? For God’s sake?
Whiskey Jenny: Oh, is it not?
Gin Jenny: No!
Whiskey Jenny: What is that thing for? It just made me change to Paramount Plus, as if I needed it to be rebranded.
Gin Jenny: I barely understood the first brand, and they still don’t have Guiding Light, and I just don’t understand. Like, people love soap operas. That is objectively like — you’re just leaving money on the table. That said.
Whiskey Jenny: Don’t know where we were. Were we about to start this soap opera of a book?
Gin Jenny: Yes, we’re about to talk about Plain Bad Heroines! Plain Bad Heroines was my pick, question mark?
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, because it’s my Hatening pick [next].
Gin Jenny: It is a story about a like, girls’ school in New England, where a number of mysterious deaths happened in the past, so it goes back and forth between the olden times and the present day, when a filmmaker is making a movie about these events. So it’s sometimes set in the past but a lot of the time set in the present, and it goes between the author of the book the movie is based on; the star of the movie; and the also other star of the movie. I began this sentence and then I realized I kind of set myself up for failure. The two stars of the movie.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, so the three main heroines in the present are the two stars of the movie and the writer of the book, and in the past, we mostly get the headmistress or the principal of the school and her wife.
Gin Jenny: Yeah. So what did you think?
Whiskey Jenny: Boy. Yeah, no I enjoyed it. I’m so glad we read it for podcast because I have like so many thoughts and things to talk about with this book. I overall like really enjoyed it, really loved it. It’s called a horror book, and it’s all like Gothic and scary and stuff in the marketing materials, so I should have known. I should have seen it coming. But I guess, like it was horror comedy, and I thought it was going to be making fun of scariness, in a way, but really it was just scary with jokes. It was like a different brand of horror comedy, and it was terrifying. I mean I don’t read a lot of scary stuff, so: grain of salt. But there’s a scary bad scene, and I was taking a bath when I was reading it. It was terrible! But yeah, overall I really enjoyed it.I still haven’t decided if it’s too long, it might be a little too long.
Gin Jenny: I don’t disagree with that. I was gonna say like, you know, not that this isn’t true every time because I’m not a careful reader, but like, should you have questions about the plot, I’m like 75% sure I won’t be able to answer them because it’s long but I was enjoying it, so I read it slow to make it last. I like couldn’t hold on to all the things, as I was going through.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, I think it was a little too long. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. It’s illustrated, which I thought was really fun.
Gin Jenny: I loved the illustrations too. It’s not like every page but yeah just often enough, it was like a, yeah, gave spice to my life.
Whiskey Jenny: It also feels. I think because it’s set, it’s emulating the style sort of a book of the time period of the first happenings, I guess, so it feels very like Dickensian, that sort of era, where you get addressed as a reader, and like the character names are bolded and things like that, but I think that also contributes to confusion, which I think also is on purpose. But there are a million characters, and the narrator is constantly, like this one’s important!
Gin Jenny: Don’t forget this one! And I was like, as soon as every time a new character was introduced, I’d be like, Wait, is this a new character or have I been told previously who they are and I should have remembered that?
Whiskey Jenny: So podcast bought — podcast money, of which we have tons and tons — but we were able to read this exciting new book because of our Patreon sponsors, which is really exciting, and I got a hardcopy thanks to them, and it’s beautiful and illustrated, but I was driving myself crazy being like, Have I met this person before? So I bought the ebook, just so I could search for like a specific name. But that happens a lot when you’re like, wait, shit is this a new person? I don’t say this often…
Gin Jenny: I was just about to say!
Whiskey Jenny: There should’ve been a cast of characters!
Gin Jenny: Yeah, agree, I couldn’t agree more.
Whiskey Jenny: And that’s in keeping with the periodness of it.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, they had that in Insurrecto.
Whiskey Jenny: Exactly, yeah! Needed a cast of characters. It was a goddamn delight to read a book with so many women characters.
Gin Jenny: Same! And so many queer woman characters, it was really nice.
Whiskey Jenny: So nice! There was one nonbinary character who got referred to by their pronouns, which was just lovely to see.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, I just like, like everyone in this book is gay. It was great.
Whiskey Jenny: I don’t know if we want to talk about the ending.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, let’s talk about the ending!
Whiskey Jenny: I don’t think I’ve ever read, a female threesome book before!
Gin Jenny: Same, since you mentioned it.
Whiskey Jenny: I’m pretty sure this is the first one.
Gin Jenny: Same! And I loved it! I was like this is great. I didn’t expect it to go in this direction; I love it.
Whiskey Jenny: I know! I was so rooting for them all together, like please live your beautiful lives together. I love it so much.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, because it sets it up pretty early on that the writer and the actress who’s sort of the, what do you call it? She’s, you know, she’s first on the poster or whatever. She’s like the person that gets the movie funded because she’s a big name.
Whiskey Jenny: First billed?
Gin Jenny: Yeah, she has first billing. Yeah, so she’s like a big hotshot actress and she and the writer character like immediately have a romance pretty quickly after they meet and they go on a really lovely romantic date which I enjoyed a lot.
Whiskey Jenny: I loved their date so much! I love their date so much. They go to a chandelier tree in LA, which is this beautiful tree lit up with chandeliers, all throughout it, on its branches.
Gin Jenny: It was like a perfect date.
Whiskey Jenny: It was such a beautiful day and such a beautiful image. It reminded me so much. Of The Night Circus in that like I, with every fiber of my being, wanted to be in that moment right then, seeing what they were seeing. It was so perfectly described; it was the best date I’ve ever read. Maybe. It was so good.
Gin Jenny: It was amazing, and I thought that the third woman, Audrey, who is like kind of a much more minor actor so this is a big break for her. I was worried she was just going to be on the outside of that relationship for the whole book, so I was like so happy that, yeah, they just all — It turned out they all really liked each other and cared about each other, developed a mutual respect. Actually, Whiskey Jenny, I want to ask you about this because one of the parts of the book is that the director tells Audrey, who’s the lesser actor, he’s like, listen, the others don’t know this, but in addition to shooting the movie, we’re also going to be at the same time shooting a secret documentary about filming the movie, and we’re going to make some like creepy stuff happen, but it won’t be too bad, so like, don’t worry, but they won’t know and you’ll know. And I was worried about that that might spoil your enjoyment with the book.
Whiskey Jenny: Well, I didn’t like it, I did not like it one bit. Got really profane in my notes. I got really mad at the director and like everyone involved in saying okay to this. It turns out that they gave that same pitch to Merritt, the writer, and Harper also knew, so everyone that Audrey kind of thought she was being forced to con already knew.
Gin Jenny: Right, I was so relieved!
Whiskey Jenny: I was relieved, but I was then like a little bit more mad at Harper, because I feel like she had more power in that situation than Audrey did, and she still said yes, but anyway, Audrey gets messed with without knowing at all that she’s being messed with. And her mom and her best friend are involved, and I was so upset, and I was so mad.
Gin Jenny: That scene was really creepy too!
Whiskey Jenny: It’s so creepy. She doesn’t know what’s going on. Oh, it’s horrible.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, what they do is that they, there’s like a creepy little song, like a school song, the lyrics refer to yellow jackets which is like yellow jackets are the cause of some of the deaths that have occurred at the school, the creepy deaths. So Audrey is alone at her house, and suddenly the audiobook bursts on at top volume seeing the creepy song, and at the same time she finds all these dead yellow jackets in her sink, which is so scary. They didn’t orchestrate the yellow jackets; that seems to be actually like her being a little haunted. But they did orchestrate the audiobook thing, and that’s so uncool! I would never ever ever do that to you, Whiskey Jenny. And if I knew someone was gonna do it to you I would tell you!
Whiskey Jenny: Thank you! Let’s please make a pact never to terrify each other for the sake of art because Bo was like, oh Harper will understand. She’ll be into the final product. No, I would not! No! It’s not worth.
Gin Jenny: It’s not worth it. Don’t do cruel scary pranks to people.
Whiskey Jenny: I was thinking how well this book would pair with Pretty as a Picture.
Gin Jenny: I was too! It was such a good, yeah, it was such a good pairing, I agree.
Whiskey Jenny: I think that book more heavily indicted, the director of that movie, in Elizabeth Little, than it did Bo, the director in this book. And I would like to rectify that. I still think Bo is a monster who is messing around people’s real lives and real feelings, for the sake of his quote unquote art, and I just don’t think it’s worth it, however good the end product is, it’s not worth it. You can’t, you can’t do that! You can’t fucking do that!
Gin Jenny: I agree, and I do not accept the premise that it gets you a better piece of art at the end.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, yeah. Try acting! Completely agree!
Gin Jenny: Like, if you don’t think your actors are good enough, cast different actors! Elizabeth Olsen’s out there.
Whiskey Jenny: Couldn’t agree more.
Gin Jenny: Yeah. Did we read Pretty as a Picture last year? Time has lost all meaning, so.
Whiskey Jenny: Sure did.
Gin Jenny: Okay, well, that was one of my favorites too as well. It was really good.
Whiskey Jenny: Absolutely, and I think I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It was also funnier than I thought it was.
Gin Jenny: It was very funny and very enjoyable, yeah, I loved it. I keep checking to see if that author has like has a new book coming out, and so far no joy.
Whiskey Jenny: We mentioned how nice it was to have only women in this book. I was so angry when a man intruded and sexually assaulted someone. I guess I should have — Like it’s a creepy horror book about women. It’s not that it wasn’t on my mind, but it was such a relief that up until the very end it had not happened yet. And then when it did happen, I was just so furious. Motherfucking Jonathan Rash. I really wrote “motherfucking Jonathan Rash” on my little notes.
Gin Jenny: Yup, I can see it, I can see it right there.
Whiskey Jenny: It would have just been nice not to have.
Gin Jenny: I thought the same thing.
Whiskey Jenny: It was so creepy and scary without that.
Gin Jenny: Overall, I think I much much much preferred the modern day stuff to the past time stuff. Because I really liked all three of those characters, they weren’t sympathetic every time, but I just found them really compelling and I really enjoyed reading about them, and with the olden time stuff, yeah, I just didn’t enjoy the past time stuff as much. Maybe because I knew it was all going to be unhappy endings, like unhappy endings, all the way down.
Whiskey Jenny: Boy. I mean I think the parallels were really skillfully done between the past story and the present story. The story we mostly get is a story of the principal and her wife at this school, but the book and the movie is about an incident that has just happened at that school between students, Flo and Clara, and I thought that was so interesting also that that was like the, um…
Gin Jenny: Like the precipitating event of the plot.
Whiskey Jenny: Thank you, thank you, that’s the precipitating event. But we actually don’t spend hardly any time with Flo and Clara, even though our two main actresses in the present are playing Flo and Clara. I thought that was such an interesting choice, but like Flo and Clara have this relationship and Eleanor is sort of like the awkward third wheel because she accidentally watches them at one point, and then Libby and Alex are a couple and then Adelaide watches them, and I was, I was like so worried that, as you said before, that it was gonna turn into Audrey being the awkward third wheel, between Harper and Merritt. More throuples in books! It was so fun to read about a happy ending with a throuple. I mean kind of happy.
Gin Jenny: For a spooky book, happy.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, my interpretation is they’re still a little bit haunted, but they’re going to be okay together. Bo is more haunted.
Gin Jenny: I agree, and I agree with everything you’ve just said. It reminded me a little bit of someone was talking about Portrait of a Lady on Fire and how at the end, when a guy shows up, it’s like a jumpscare. The jumpscare is the patriarchy. And the guy’s not doing anything, he’s just there.
Whiskey Jenny: Booooooo!
Gin Jenny: Like she comes down to breakfast and there was a guy there and it’s like, what? why?
Whiskey Jenny: What the hell? Go away!
Gin Jenny: But it was really nice in the same way. It was just like, nice to have a world that was mostly women and like how women relate to each other.
Whiskey Jenny: I thought at the beginning, I think this is part of the, it was a little long, but it was a little slow to begin for me. It reminded me of something you said about the Quan Berry We Ride upon Sticks book, which was like it was like a waterfall of prose hitting you. A little bit it felt like this with that, with this book. Honestly I think part of that is intentional. I think it’s contributing to this dense cloying atmosphere where you don’t fully know what’s going on, and it’s confusing, and there’s just like too much all around coming at you. So it’s not a criticism but just like a, you know, it’s not that enjoyable.
Gin Jenny: I think you’re right, that was the intended effect. Yeah, I mean, as with all the parts of the book, I was quite interested in Merritt and Audrey and Harper, and I was so much less interested in what was going on at Brookhants In the olden days, so I think that’s what I would have cut down if I were in charge of cutting things. But, you know, I wouldn’t even necessarily want to because I feel like this is such a specific type of book, and it seems like she wrote the exact book she wanted to write. So I feel like, you know, having said that, I actually don’t know that it would be even a good idea to change it because I feel like it’s like a good endeavor to have out there.
Whiskey Jenny: Indeed, indeed. When Merritt was first flirting with Harper, were you like, Oh, this is fun flirting?
Gin Jenny: I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure if she was doing fun flirting, or if she like had an agenda. Okay, why, what about you?
Whiskey Jenny: She just seems really mean from the get-go to Harper, which is an odd thing to say because Merritt is like the normal, shall we say, and Harper’s a super famous movie star. So I understand the instinct to be self-conscious and try and cut the other person down, and I also understand the instinct to try and give the power of that conversation to Merritt the writer and not Harper the movie star, but she was just like really cruel from the get-go to Harper. And I eventually ended up rooting for them, but at first I was just like, what’s happening?
Gin Jenny: Well, I think Merritt is a little mean, like, as a self protective measure, and I think that when I was reading that, I also, like Merritt, I was also suspicious of Harper’s motives. I was like, why is a famous person flirting with a normal person? Like, is everything okay here? But then once they went on the date, I was like, Oh no, she like really wants to take her out on like this date date, so it didn’t really bother me because I felt like I understood where Merritt was coming from, and I thought Harper was gonna turn out to be a phony.
Whiskey Jenny: When they said about Audrey, I was like, man, Harper better not know they’re doing this to Audrey or I will be out, and she kind of did, and she kind of didn’t. So, she’s a little bit less in my eyes than before but she did not have the like huge fall that I was dreading.
Gin Jenny: I also felt just like overall, as I was reading this, I was like, I know we kind of said this already, but I just kept thinking, Man, I wish more books like this existed, where it’s just like big sprawling, weird books.
Whiskey Jenny: Ambitious!
Gin Jenny: Ambitious books, right!, about women. Yeah, I just loved it and I felt like it partook of genre conventions in a really interesting way.
Whiskey Jenny: The footnotes were really fun.
Gin Jenny: Love a footnote. Gina Apostol’s new book is out, and it has so many more footnotes than I was expecting. And it’s like people arguing with each other in the footnotes. So I’m extremely excited to read it.
Whiskey Jenny: That’s cool. I enjoyed how much the narrator hated Charles. Every time they mentioned Charles, was like, stupid Charles. Dumb Charles. Fucking Charles. It was a really really great touch.
Gin Jenny: It was great, and since you brought it up, that is also what I have been saying to all my friends since Sunday, since Sunday’s Oprah interview. Let me ask you this question. Would you watch— There isn’t one, so I don’t want to like get you all excited. Would you watch a TV series adaptation of this? Because I’m super would!
Whiskey Jenny: Ooh, um, I don’t know.
Gin Jenny: I guess it would depend on the casting.
Whiskey Jenny: It would totally depend on the casting, and that was one question I wanted to ask you: if you had any casting thoughts. But I think both of these questions speak to the real sweeping, I don’t want to say cinematic because that seems tropey in a book about a movie, but, but it is, it’s an epic. It’s like an old-fashioned epic.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, it really conjures the different settings in your mind, even for me, a person with a very poor visual imagination.
Whiskey Jenny: I don’t know if I’d watch a TV about it, because it might be too scary.
Gin Jenny: Oh, if they cast someone for Audrey who really is like a minor… like if they cast for Audrey like the girl from like Happy Death Day.
Whiskey Jenny: Yep, yep. So I was picturing Kristen Stewart for Harper this whole time.
Gin Jenny: I also was, not so much in the sense that I was like, Oh, they should cast Kristen Stewart, although I think she’d be good, as I was thinking, like, Emily Danforth is thinking of Kristen Stewart.
Whiskey Jenny: Like, modeled after Kristen Stewart, right?
Gin Jenny: I don’t know enough about Kristen Stewart to like, make a proclamation, but I felt like her like cool thing that she does? I don’t know, yeah. She reminded me of Kristen Stewart for sure.
Whiskey Jenny: Absolutely. I wrote on page 78 — And I think this is just speaks to being in the hands of a female author was a delight. I wrote on page 78, I swear to God, if someone says coltish to describe one of these women, I will flip a table. They didn’t.
Gin Jenny: Hooray!
Whiskey Jenny: And this is how you successfully describe three like sexually attractive women without being gross about it. It is possible.
Gin Jenny: It is possible! I would also like to talk about, so there’s like, the creepy song about the yellow jacket, and I really appreciate that the narrator gave us the tune for it. She it’s the same tune as the song from Dirty Dancing at the end, and secondly, probably a week after I read that part, I was having kind of a bad day at work, and I was like, Ah, nothing will cheer me up, I’m sad forever. And then I suddenly had the epiphany that I was gonna watch Dirty Dancing that night. It was like, this is the best idea I’ve ever had! And it was so good still!
Whiskey Jenny: I do not have that connection to Dirty Dancing that many people my age have.
Gin Jenny: That’s very surprising because you like dancing movies.
Whiskey Jenny: I don’t know what it is. It’s pretty dark, I think. It’s like, you know what? I don’t need to…
Gin Jenny: It is. I mean you’re not wrong.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, I weirdly like Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, but I love, like a couple of my most favorite dancing scenes in rom coms are homages to Dirty and Dancing. Really and truly appreciate its affect on the culture and how influential it was. I mean there’s that lift in Crazy Stupid Love where Ryan Gosling lifts Emma Stone, which is just like one for the ages.
Gin Jenny: It really is. That movie is terrible, but the whole sequence when Emma Stone comes and kisses him in the bar, and then they go back to his place. That whole, that whole sequence is gold.
Whiskey Jenny: It’s like as magical as the first date of Merritt and Harper.
Gin Jenny: It’s great, it’s like perfect.
Whiskey Jenny: It’s perfect. Exactly. It is the like golden hour of dates.
Gin Jenny: Yeah, agreed. The golden hour of dates, that’s very good, Whiskey Jenny.
Whiskey Jenny: I’m feeling so lyrical because this book!
Gin Jenny: Yeah, it had so much prose!
Whiskey Jenny: On top of like, it covers so much ground and plot! Like, there were so many sentences that I was like, ah, that is what it is like!, which is the exact feeling you want from beautiful sentences.
Gin Jenny: Yes, totally. And also I felt like it was very exciting for me because one of my favorite authors is Sarah Waters, who writes kind of like big sprawling gay British books, so I was like, well this is exciting, now I’ve got the big sprawling gay American book. Maybe Emily Danforth — Because Sarah Waters hasn’t written a book for like a number of years. The pump is primed. And so having this to read really felt great. I still want Sarah Waters to release a new book.
Whiskey Jenny: This doesn’t let you off the hook, Sarah!
Gin Jenny: No pressure, but like, yeah I would love one. The Paying Guests was a while ago. But similarly, it’s the same kind of thing, where like, the prose is good, the plot’s enjoyable, like it just kind of has everything going for it, so it was great.
Whiskey Jenny: Yep!
Gin Jenny: Well good, I’m so pleased you liked it! I worried the length would be too much because like especially during the pandemic, I feel like my tolerance for long books is less.
Whiskey Jenny: It is for me as well, and I, well, it was a bit of a struggle at the beginning, I’ll be honest, but I think just a testament to how great is that it was in fact 617 pages, and yet I still read it in the year of our Lord 2021.
Gin Jenny: Amazing. Truly amazing.
Whiskey Jenny: Thank you, Emily Danforth.
Gin Jenny: And even when I was like, finding it a little slow, it never felt like a slog to read I was always like, excited to go back to it.
Whiskey Jenny: Yes, it was very much one where I was thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it.
Gin Jenny: If people who are not Whiskey Jenny want some more polyamorous groups, you should watch the television show Black Sails.
Whiskey Jenny: Ah. I was like, but why not me? I want—oh, okay. Well, can we just make Leverage the thing that fandom wants?
Gin Jenny: Like, this is probably unrealistic, but I—
Whiskey Jenny: They’re not.
Gin Jenny: There’s a large part of me that’s really hoping…
Whiskey Jenny: They’re not. They’re not. Don’t get your hopes up. They’re not.
Gin Jenny: You’re right.
Whiskey Jenny: But the fic will!
Gin Jenny: Yeah, you’re right.
Whiskey Jenny: I don’t want to crush your hopes but they’re not. They’re not.
Gin Jenny: No, you’re right.
Whiskey Jenny: I want them to! I’ve been rewatching some Leverage episodes, and it’s been really fun watching it through that lens to be like, oh, this.
Gin Jenny: Also, seasons four and five are like so shippy! I was watching, I was like, they know what they’re doing!
Whiskey Jenny: They know, but they’re not going to do it.
Gin Jenny: All right, well, what book that I’m definitely gonna love are we reading for next time?
Whiskey Jenny: After that home run, since you started with the baseball metaphors—
Gin Jenny: I also, listeners, you should know, I begged Whiskey Jenny to haten or forcen me for something. I was just like, I need to be told something to read.
Whiskey Jenny: I was selfish and I found Forcening too like emotionally charged to do at the moment, so I picked Hatening, so I hope that’s okay.
Gin Jenny: Which, I’ve kind of mortgaged my future, because I don’t really have a good like scheme for what to Haten you to read, but I’m sure I can find something. I’ll figure it out.
Whiskey Jenny: We always do.
Gin Jenny: All right, so Angela’s Ashes, I assume.
Whiskey Jenny: Well, we’ve already talked about that it’s an Irish author. It is an ensemble tale, so many perspectives.
Gin Jenny: Gross. I mean I like multiple perspectives, but I don’t like an ensemble tale.
Whiskey Jenny: They often go hand in hand, so sure.
Gin Jenny: Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.
Whiskey Jenny: Okay, yeah, fine.
Gin Jenny: Fine, fine.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, all right, this is solidly an ensemble tale, though. I just you can’t, okay, whatever.
Gin Jenny: I’m going to collate some examples, and then I’m going to bring them to you and you can tell me.
Whiskey Jenny: I am not saying that all multiple perspectives are ensembles, but I’m saying that a lot, more than not, ensembles are multiple perspectives.
Gin Jenny: All right, I can accept that.
Whiskey Jenny: Yeah, great.
Gin Jenny: All right, great. So we no longer disagree. Continue.
Whiskey Jenny: Handshake, we agree. It’s set in 1847, so white people historical times, which you hate.
Gin Jenny: I do. Also I think this is oppressive against me, as an Irish American, to have to read the great tragedies of my people.
Whiskey Jenny: Yep, it’s on a famine ship.
Gin Jenny: Oh God.
Whiskey Jenny: But it’s set on a ship on the sea.
Gin Jenny: I do like ships, so maybe that will salvage something for me.
Whiskey Jenny: It’s just like everyone on the ship and what’s going on on the ship, and there’s also maybe a killer on the ship, but that’s not a big part of it. It’s a literary killer. The killer was inside us all along. And it’s called the Star of the Sea, by Joseph O’Connor.
Gin Jenny: Well, honestly—
Whiskey Jenny: I’m part Irish as well, so I think I’m allowed.
Gin Jenny: This could be worse, like, at least there’s a ship. I got so excited when you said killer. I was like, this might be salvageable after all, but okay, a literary killer, I understand.
Whiskey Jenny: It’s still a Hatening! I wasn’t gonna go like full extreme, because it’s, again, 2021, but I’m not going to give you a softball.
Gin Jenny: Well the egg — That doesn’t work. You’re really gonna have—
Whiskey Jenny: On whose foot is the egg?
Gin Jenny: You’re really gonna have egg on your face, if there’s a chapter from the perspective of the creepy killer and you’re gonna feel foolish.
Whiskey Jenny: I really truly am. You are correct.
Gin Jenny: Then the shoe will be on the other foot.
Whiskey Jenny: Throwing the egg.
Gin Jenny: They don’t have any eggs! It’s a famine!
Whiskey Jenny: So, until next time, listeners, a quote from, well it’s from Plain Bad Heroines, quoting Mary McClane: “I have read of women who have been strongly grandly brave.”
Gin Jenny: This has been the Reading the End with a Demographically Similar Jennys, you can visit the blog at readingtheend.com. You can follow us on Twitter at reading the end, we are both on Goodreads, as Whiskey Jenny and Gin Jenny, and you can email us, we love it when you do, at email@example.com. If you like what we do, you can become a podcast patron at patreon.com/readingtheend. And if you’re listening to us on iTunes, please leave us a review, it helps other people find the podcast.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
The post Episode 145 – A Belated 2020 Recap and Emily Danforth’s Plain Bad Heroines appeared first on Reading the End.