Today will be different
This isn’t the type of book I’m usually drawn to, but as the library allows us to live dangerously with no financial risk, I gave it a go, and am glad I did.
Maria Semple was a television writer, working on shows like ‘Ellen’ and ‘Mad About You’, and the pace and snappy humour of the book illustrates that TV skill set.
Eleanor is having a bad day. All areas of her life are infected with the kind of inertia and ennui that isn’t life-threatening, but these first world problems are easy to relate to and more easy to make humourous. It’s pretty hard to make heartbreaking tragedy, but car key-loss, iphones in buckets of fish, and children pretending to be ill is a different matter. Also, she’s feeling her menopausal age and the body issues that come with it, her child is picked on at school for wearing clothes from high street stores that use slave labour, she doesn’t really like her friends, her husband is being odd and quiet, she’s estranged from her only relative, and she’s about to knock herself unconscious by walking blindly into a piece of art at a sculpture park. All of this is a lot funnier than it sounds, and personally, I love a flawed heroine.
The book is set over one day, and I was able to read it in one day as this weekend I refused to do anything I didn’t want to do. In a not-tragic-but-similarly-unpleasant way, I’ve had a week I’d rather forget, mainly due to a dental abscess, which if you’ve had one, you don’t need me to describe, and if you’ve not, basically the pain gives you Spiderman-like powers of being able to climb up walls using just your fingernails. To make matters worse, it was on a tooth that had died from trauma, not decay, so not immediately evident and saw me practically clinging to my dentist’s ankles screaming like a Peanuts character for an x-ray, as he was initially skeptical that there was anything wrong. Plus, he knows me! Plus, my face was super-puffy and swollen! Does he think I always look that way?! I have been a zombie at work, made countless mistakes and forgotten to sign all kinds of bits of council-y paper, and so once I was feeling much better and ready to enjoy life again, reading about someone who leaves seven voice mails for a friend about missing then not missing a lunch date to only then realise it’s actually someone else they are supposed to be meeting, made me feel less useless.
As Eleanor was an illustrator in New York before moving to Seattle, there’s lots about the shows she worked on, and a graphic novel she was writing, and illustrations are included, giving it a book-within-a-book feeling, and adding a new dimension to the characters.