Even before I started reading Lately by Sara Pritchard, I've been thinking about religion. Raised Catholic but not practicing, I can't help but to feel like I'm in Limbo. Don't get me wrong, I say my rosary every day and am mindful--do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I just have been feeling a little push to do a little something more with my spiritual life. I'm just thinking about what that little something is. I don't necessarily agree with the Catholic Church on several issues. (I don't have time to get into right now.) And I've always been told that if you want to be part of a club you have to follow the club's rules. Hence, I am no longer a practicing member of the Catholic Club. At the same time, I don't think any other form of Christianity is as hip to the Virgin Mary as Catholicism and me. See how I have already arrived at Limbo...I digress...
Lately, to put it in Amanda terms, is the biggity bomb! I don't say this because I went to graduate school with Sara Pritchard or because she's a totally rad human being. I say this as a dedicated, skeptical reader. The beauty of theses linked stories (not exactly a novel and not exactly separate short stories--the setting/location overlaps in each story and some characters appear in more than one story) is its unique and well-developed characters. These are people you feel you know only after two pages of reading. You trust their voices and actions. You'd think they are real, and Pritchard is just relaying the facts. Most times, at least one of the characters in each story reminds me of Stokes--he or she is a truly wacky, lovable peep with a very unique perspective on life.
Seriously, there's so much I love about this book, but I don't have the time right now to get into it fully. Here are some highlights: Of course, I was attracted to the themes of religion/spirituality. It almost seemed cosmic that I was reading it during this time of my own spiritual reflection. I LOVE the things in Pritchard's stories. She always includes object that resonate on multiple levels for me--things I have owned, have desired from a distance, or associate with people close to me. Examples: ESPRIT (yes, the 80s label we all loved) boots, Chinese character tattoos, Lucky Strike cigs, Martha Stewart, Bob Dylan (pop icons can count as objects to a certain degree...). Also, I LOVE her writing style, how she weaves several stories together at one time but she always comes back to the main story at hand--this is EXACTLY how my brain works!
My favorites in this collection: "The Honor of Your Presence," "The Pink Motel," "Reading Raymond Carver, Waiting for Bob Dylan," and "Here on Earth." My favorite scene involves the Virgin Mary taking the wheel (No, Carrie Underwood, not Jesus, but Mary) in "La Vecchietta in Siena."
I highly recommend this book. It's a fun and a smart read. I give it four and a half Hello Kittys.