Cara Hoffman’s So Much Pretty

I spent today cleaning and working on the quilt (oh, yes, I, too, thought I was never getting back to it, but here I am) and then reading Cara Hoffman’s So Much Pretty. Whew, this is a book like a Mack Truck.  I will say up front that I thought, especially in the first half of the book, that the amount of description was distracting. But I finished it up, sat here for a good five minutes wondering if I felt like the ending was horrifying or thrilling, and then immediately wondered what y’all would make of it.

I read the reviews over at Good Reads, but the folks who hated it seem to have not liked it because of its structure or because of Hoffman’s writing style. I found the structure pretty mindblowingly useful–chapters focus on different characters and are sometimes told in the first person–exactly because it kind of gets at the way you can know something is going on in a small town but not have the ability to quite put it together to really know know it. And I think her writing is fine, beautiful even.


But damn, it’s a rough book. It’s basically about three women–a woman who is abducted and held captive and gang-raped, the newspaper editor who is trying to get at the bottom of what’s going on, and the young girl who tries to get revenge on the rapists.  Hoffman doesn’t go into the terrible details of what happens to the kidnapped gal, but what she does share is terrible enough. And what the young girl ends up doing is… I don’t know. I felt like, on the one hand, yes, good. But on the other hand, that she then gets away with it?

I have to say, it kind of shook me. I mean, I think Hoffman does a good job of kind of showing her as not even not sorry, as not even understanding why what she’s done would be a problem or the suffering her actions would cause, even to her own parents. And, yes, that is how teenagers act. But is it then a happy ending if she gets away?

Why would she stop killing?

But I don’t think that Hoffman necessarily thinks her book has a happy ending. So, maybe being shook is fine. After all, the guys she didn’t get to are having happy regular lives, too.


Anyway, it’s upsetting and disturbing. But it’s something, I’ll say that.

Jonah Hex

Have y’all seen this movie? I’m going to assume most of you haven’t because I know I have quite a few historians who read me and I have heard none of you screaming. And believe me, I would hear you screaming.

So, I think the elevator pitch for this movie was “We’re going to just let Josh Brolin shoot things and sound like he’s in the middle of taking a painful shit for ninety minutes.” And for some reason, having Josh Brolin talk like he’s in the middle of taking a painful shit for ninety whole minutes seemed like a good idea. And then, poor Megan Fox, who I like despite myself, has to spend almost all of her scenes in either a bedroom or a doorway, for some inexplicable reason.

Oh, and if you are a gun nut, you should definitely not watch it because, for some reason, Hex is all the time armed with awesome weapons that he then leaves behind when they empty, as if guns are all single-use.

But no, the most hilariously baffling part about the movie is that Hex is a Civil War veteran who, of course, was a Confederate and, of course, didn’t like slavery and got along with Indians (even married an Indian gal), but for some reason, just also didn’t think there should be a United States. And he has the audacity to tell a guy who used to be a slave that he thought both sides were just as bad. And the actor playing the guy who used to be a slave somehow kept a straight face through that whole scene.

But that is not the funny part, no! No, indeed, the funny part is that, though Hex is a Southerner, and though much of the action takes place along the South Carolina/Virginia coast, yes, the ocean coast, and the whole movie is supposed to be taking place in some ridiculously short amount of time, like ten days, Hex seems to be regularly traipsing out to Montana. I guess. I mean, I think it’s Montana.

Otherwise, the Crow Indians are hanging out in Alabama? I guess? I mean, people, dude has a confrontation out in Charleston South Carolina. He dies or nearly dies. His horse takes him “home.” Where they run into a bunch of people living in tepees who then, of course, heal him.

And then he’s able to ride angrily back to the coast of South Carolina/Virginia to take up with the bad guy.

All while the clock is ticking on this “ten days ’til the 4th” nonsense.

And no, people, I don’t know what the fuck happened to North Carolina, but it’s pretty clear from the plotting of this movie that, in Jonah Hex’s America, there is no North Carolina. I think we also have to guess that the Great Plains start at the Georgia border and that much of Alabama is a sandy white beach-like desert.

So, yes, I was willing to buy a character that talks to dead people and a character who can fight in a corset without passing out and Eli Whitney being some kind of proto-Einstein, but god damn it, I could not buy a movie in which they clearly had no idea about the very basic map of the United States they should be working from and some  basic history of the era. I was also hoping to see the centennial flag with the stars in circles, but alas, I did not.

So, it was pretty terrible, but I think it would be entertaining to watch with the historians in your life, just to hear them holler and sputter through the whole thing.

Cat Dog Barking

I was attempting to sleep in, as people like to do on the weekends but the cats assumed, of course, that this meant I was going to let them starve to death… yes, clear unto death… if I slept any later than I do on weekdays. But I was determined. I was having a lovely dream about Viggo Mortensen w/LOTR-era scruff and a barn and some puppies and I was determined.

So, there I am, “Okay, go ahead, Viggo, make sweet love to me in the hay here while we listen to the strange barks of those adorable puppies over there.” when of course, my mind is like “You know, that is a strange bark for a puppy to be making. Almost as if it’s not a puppy at all.” Oh god damn it. So, I wake up thinking, I don’t even know. That the dog has been injured in the vocal chords or something.

And there, at the end of the bed, looking down on the dog who is also trying to sleep (I think we must assume she was having a dream about the Hound of the Baskervilles [she’s always loved bad boys] and a barn and a litter of Viggo Mortensens nearby to dispense butt scratches as necessary) is the new kitty who is… I am not even kidding… barking at the dog, or at least, doing her best impersonation of a dog bark.

I don’t know if cats are smart enough to develop plots where she was thinking “Hey, if I can make the dog bark, there’s no way the woman can sleep through that” or if she was merely tired of complaining to the orange cat about the lack of food and so had taken up trying to communicate with the dog in the dog’s own language about my terrible inability to get out of bed when necessary.

But it was the damnedest thing.