Famouser & Famouser

by jkatejohnston

3 December 2013

Dear Max,

I’m staying at my mom and dad’s for a few days, trying to get ready for a reading at College of Creative Studies at UCSB. So I’ve been reading my diary instead of writing it, and trying to think of ways to become famouser and famouser. This includes nagging my mom and sister to review my books on Amazon or Good Reads, explaining that a self-published book with no reviews looks pretty sad because it means that not even your closest friends, not even your mom, can think of anything nice to say with any hope of being believed. It’s the online equivalent of an embarrassed silence.

I understand why people don’t write reviews, especially if they know me. They want to write something positive and also true, and it’s not always possible to do both. (Tip: if you have to lie to say something nice, I won’t even know it. I believe all praise.) And of course they want to be witty, insightful and accurate, and pretty soon it becomes this impossible chore. Anyway, it dawned on me that I can review my own books on Amazon. Somebody has to. And who knows them better than I do? So: 

The Life of Johnston 1993: I wrote this book. I’ve never read it except as an editor (and that’s not what I call reading), but I am pretty familiar with it, and it’s surprisingly good—funny, full of failure, especially the romantic kind. As Quentin Crisp said, it’s a tale of misfortune at which the reader is allowed to laugh. Nothing happens. It doesn’t add up to anything. It has no Arc. Or if there is an Arc, it’s a hell of a long one, as long as my life, and this volume is just the beginning. But I don’t care about Arcs or adding up to anything or learning from experiences, and it’s a lot of fun to read. (✭✭✭✭✭)

The Life of Johnston 1994: This one’s my favorite. There’s a good love story. Everything else is miserable, but who cares if there’s love in the end? I don’t know if this is a warning or a recommendation, but when I wrote this volume, I was obsessed with Boswell and Johnson. (Still am.) I think even people who don’t love Boswell and Johnson might find that stuff entertaining, and if they don’t, those parts are easy to skip. The love interest doesn’t happen until near the end. So the first three quarters of the book are about graduate school misery. Still, there’s a lot of life in a lonely, bookish existence. Plus it’s totally hilarious. (✭✭✭✭✭)

The Life of Johnston 2012: I wrote this book, and I like it a lot, and since no one else will review it, I’ve decided to do it myself. This is yet another volume in the seemingly endless Life of Johnston series. It has the same love interest as The Life of Johnston 1994 (I approve of happy endings) plus a new love interest: our son, who is pretty much the only child character in all of literature that I can stand, and he’s terrific. Seriously, are there any children in the books you really love? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Because children are really, really boring. You can’t blame the kids—it’s the sentimental way that writers portray them that’s the problem. But I take good notes. Adoration doesn’t turn me into an idiot. Plus we are, all three of us, very funny. My only quibble is, it’s a little short. (✭✭✭✭) 

The Life of Johnston 2013: I’m getting a little tired of writing my own reviews. So I’ll just say it’s a lot like The Life of Johnston 1993 and 1994 and 2012. Only even funnier! So—Kate Johnston has done it again! Her life is in no way remarkable! Nothing ever happens! And yet! It is so amusing. (✭✭✭✭✭) (This one’ s not actually published yet. But when it is, I’ll be ready!)

Delusions for Breakfast: Essays on Food, Fat and Family: This book is a lot like my Life of Johnston series, only there’s more food and quite a bit of stuff about my mom, who I think is a good character, even if she won’t review my books. I love food, so what’s not to love about this book? The only thing I don’t like about it is that some of the essays are a little bit too tidily wrapped up at the end. The shape is a lot more conventional than I prefer. I guess I could rewrite it and rough it up a little. But that sounds like a lot of work. (✭✭✭✭)

And by the way, there’s a link to My Books On Amazon at the top of this blog, right over the pictures.