The Memory Project
Off the top of my head, natural (Johnny Ketchum)

Day 22: Stereotypes Are Fun
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New theory about my productivity in Iowa and, now, Nebraska, where I have managed another 2-W day (and even done an interview) before 11 a.m.: It's all those meth labs. Crystal meth has seeped into the water table. I'm shaking with energy. I'll come at you like a spider-monkey, old man!

This is, of course, a gross stereotype about certain midwestern states, one gently mocked in THE QUALITY OF LIFE REPORT, a book I quite liked, although I was wildly envious of the writer at the time. I can't even remember the "why" of it, just the sense of wild envy, linked to the fact that the writer was certified Officialy Hip and had even written for the New Yorker. Still, I don't let envy get in my way of admiring a book. Then again, I don't let envy guilt me into reading books for which I can generate zero enthusiasm despite great reviews. As I told a lovely audience here in Omaha -- where the shopping really is good, just to undermine another stereotype people might have about certain places -- I still swear by the first-line test when trying to decide if to read certain books.

Other than Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD, it's hard to find writers who speak openly of envy or jealousy, although it's often a fertile topic for fiction. Cristina Schwartz's ALL IS VANITY comes to mind. (Disclaimer, I'm sure of the title, but not the spelling of the writer's name. Terrific book.) THE INFORMATION, of course. Other suggestions? I'll think on the same topic as I drive to Lincoln. But first, some strawberry-kiwi protein powder, dissolved in bottled water.

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