"Pub twins" is a coinage I am just trying out; it's not that great because it could easily be misinterpreted to mean the same thing as "Irish twins." What I am trying to mean, though, is that two remarkable books, Meghan Daum's Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House
and Will Leitch's Are We Winning?
, share a pub date with my book And The Heart Says Whatever
. What do all these books have in common, besides that they are awesome and you should buy them? Not much of anything, actually. They are all written mostly in the first person, there's that. I enjoyed all three of them very much (well, except my own book, parts of which I can't reread without crying or wincing in disgust). Meghan's and Will's books, though, are pure pleasures that you can either indulge in yourself or give to, in the case of Meghan's book, your most real-estate-obsessed friend, or, in the case of Will's book, your Dad for Father's day. If your Dad is obsessed with real estate, well, it's a double play! Or something; I read Will's entire book but I still don't remember anything about the rules of baseball.
Luckily, you don't have to know anything about or care anything about the game of baseball to read Are We Winning?, even though it's about fathers, sons and baseball. It's the story of Will and his father attending a specific game between two teams, one of which was their favorite and one of which was their least favorite, in some kind of major baseball event. Along the way, though, Will writes in very moving terms about how his relationship with his dad has shaped his life — all while keeping his masculine dignity and never being too emo. It's quite a feat.
Some of the themes of Meghan's book will be familiar to readers of her seminal essay collection My Misspent Youth, which, if you haven't read it, leave work or whatever you're doing, buy it, and don't talk to me til you've read it! When I think about My Misspent Youth I think of that thing people say about The Velvet Underground's first album — that initially not a lot of people bought it, but everyone who did went out and started a band (and, of course, later a lot of people bought it). I would substitute "wrote a book" or "started a blog" for "started a band" in this formulation. In these essays, Meghan reinvented a genre of writing that I have a hard time labeling; it's not exactly "confessional" but it is fearlessly honest. (We talked to Curtis Sittenfeld about this recently here). Now, with Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, Meghan has told her entire life story via the medium of real estate, taking us with her from the Midwest to New Jersey to the Upper West Side to Nebraska to LA — in search of various houses that may or may not be homes, and in search of a workable definition of what that latter word means. The book ends on a dramatic, unsettled note, leaving readers hungry for whatever Meghan's next book might be.
[Editor's Note: Meghan > will be Powells.com's guest blogger for the week of May 24th-28th. Mark your calendars!]