Hey there. It's already the second Friday of the year, which is just bananas (as my friend Amy would say). But here's the legit crazy thing: these newsletters come out twice a month, on Fridays, and January has five Fridays. Bonus Friday.
How is your 2016 going so far? I've already written 2015 on a check, in case you're wondering a) if anyone really does that, and/or b) who still writes checks. Don't judge. Just love. (As my friend Audrey would say.)
Is this your first time receiving this newsletter? The full archive is available here.
1. In the last newsletter of 2015, I recommended Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life. I remain bowled over by what Yanagihara was able to do in that book, the threads of story and character she weaves. And when I finished reading it, I looked for something light and airy, a quick read that might even have me laughing in places. I found all of those things in Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members, which won the Thurber Prize for American Humor (I believe Schumacher was the first woman to do so). It is an epistolary novel—in this case a series of recommendation letters—written from the point of view of a creative writing professor past his prime and buried under the weight of institutional bureaucracy. I do not think you have to be in the academy to appreciate its satire and wit.
2. I knew Julie Klam as a dog-loving Twitterphile before I knew her as an author (we dog-loving tweeters find each other one way or another), but once I learned of her memoir Please Excuse My Daughter, all bets were off. Klam is funny. She is relatable. Her family is not yours but could be. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness is a window into how Klam came to be the dog-owner and -lover she is, yes, but also what kind of person that made her along the way. Love at First Bark offers a deeper understanding of how and why she devotes so much of her time and energy to rescuing Boston terriers (and includes tales of other dogs as well). Finally, in Friendkeeping, a natural offshoot of dog-keeping, Klam relates the hierarchy of modern friendships.
3. Since I've introduced you to Julie Klam, I might as well introduce you to her Aunt Mattie. (You will learn more about Mattie if you read Please Excuse My Daughter.) Therefore, my third recommendation is Mattie's blog, 67 and dumped. I linked to the About page, so you should read that, but if you're new to Mattie's blog, start here. She is marvelous.
As always, art by that genius Jen Deaderick. Have I mentioned how great she is? If you need any web design, get at her.