I've been thinking lately about the '80s. Not nostalgically: the '80s were ridiculous, unless you like cocaine, anorexia, stretch limos, awkward haircuts, or the band A-Ha and their animated/nonanimated video hybrid that at the time was, like, totally awesome. AT THE TIME. But lately, as in summer 2009, I've seen adult women wearing outfits I owned in 1984 at the age of 12. Actual Forenza sweaters. Skinny jeans (they were just called "jeans" back then) WITH ZIPPERS AT THE ANKLE. Ladies, I'm here to tell you that zippers at the ankle of jeans are not, in fact, totally tubular. They were a fashion mistake. Bring back bell bottoms or pencil skirts or overalls, even, but ankle-zipper jeans have no place on the human form.
In my disgust I decided the '80s had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, save Prince and Miami Vice and the birth of the littlest sister. But the last two books I read were published in the '80s (when I was probably reading Are You There God? It's Me Margaret), and they're both really, really good.
A Month in the Country is slow, quiet, quite short (it's a novella!), and quite lovely.
Machine Dreams is the first novel by Jayne Anne Phillips, whose more recent book, Lark and Termite, got a lot of press when it came out earlier this year. I haven't read the latter, but I'll be rereading little bits of Machine Dreams whenever I need inspiration.
So jump in your bitchin' Camaro, drive down to the local bookstore, and buy a copy of each.