Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Join a new club? (Plus, review: Ten Cents a Dance)

I am lame. In recognition of said lameness, I wrote this email to Stephanie Perkins last night:

I haven't gotten any writing done today and now I am just sitting on the couch reading Ten Cents a Dance. I'm so lame.

Signed,
Lame-O


And she wrote back:

Dear Lame-O,

Congratulations! After reviewing your application, we've decided that you're just the kind of person the League of Authors Misapplying Energy (L.A.M.E.) is looking for! Enclosed you'll find: the L.A.M.E. starter guide, an official L.A.M.E. membership card, and a L.A.M.E. badge to pin to your lapel (or pajamas, if you are M.E. and haven't gotten dressed today).

We are thrilled to welcome you to our ranks, and if you have any questions -- any at all! -- please do not hesitate to contact me. Though I might be M.E., such as watching a pop culture countdown or preparing a bubble bath, so it may take awhile to hear back from me.

Congratulations again, Lame-O, and welcome to the club!

Sincerely,

Stephanie Perkins
L.A.M.E. President


Well. I thought this was about the cleverest acronym I'd ever heard -- clever, clever Stephanie -- and promptly started looking for a "seal generator" so that I could make our new club official. Here it is:
So, are you lame? Don't hasten to say yes, just so you can join a new club! This really isn't a club any of us want to be part of. We want to be shining stars of goal-achieving and book-finishing, right? Sadly, we all have our L.A.M.E. days. Feel free to pull this seal off and use it, if it happens to apply!

I blame my L.A.M.E. evening, yesterday, entirely on Ten Cents a Dance, and I mean that with affection and jealousy, because I just could not persuade myself to set it down, so instead of working on my own book, I read until I finished it. It is soOoOoOoO good! It's set in mid-1940's Chicago and features a fifteen-year-old Polish-Irish heroine, Ruby Jacinski, who has to quit school to support her family by pickling pig knuckles at the meat-packing plant. Ruby loves to dance, and when a neighborhood bad boy tips her off that she can get paid to dance -- and earn up to $50 a week (she makes $12 pickling knuckles) -- her whole life changes. She becomes a taxi dancer, a girl men pay 10 cents to dance with, and has to keep her new job a complete secret from her mother. Ruby is a good girl whose wild streak nestles cozily beside her total innocence, and there's a sense of precariousness and impending danger as she gets more deeply enmeshed in her new life, makes dangerous mistakes, gets close to the wrong boy, and piles up so many lies she barely knows who she is anymore.

Christine Fletcher has recreated this time and place with remarkable detail, from the social protocols to the racial tensions, and I was fascinated with little things, such as how a girl like Ruby would never have been to a restaurant, or known anyone who owned their own car; the intricate schemes by which the dance hall girls got all they could out of their customers; the "black and tan" clubs which were the only places all races mingled in the interest of one thing: music. Oh, and don't neglect to read the Author's Note, and how the idea of taxi dancing first entered Christine's awareness -- it's a loo-loo of a family secret!

Read it.

For fun, here's some of Ruby's kind of dancing, though I don't know when this video was taken.
And this one's cute, from a 1945 movie called Twice Blessed. I'm getting the idea it involves identical twins who've switched places. One knows how to dance, the other. . . not so much. Cute!
Jitterbug? I don't know dancing, but it looks like fun and great exercise.

18 comments:

Jennifer Bertman said...

Ha ha! The L.A.M.E. acronym and club is very clever. And thanks for the review of 10 Cents a Dance--that sounds really good. I have an urge to take jitterbug classes now, too.

Em said...

I ordered my copy today! And I'm starting swing dance lessons on Monday. :)

Laurel said...

I am ABSOLUTELY a L.A.M.E kinda gal.

(she says, before returning to twitter and building a pillow-fort, simultaneously)

Stephanie Perkins said...

Yaaaaaaaaay!! I love our new crest!

Yesterday was another day of M.E., but I'm transfering the blame to the crazy people at work who wore me out.

It was a record day for crazy.

Jackie said...

Agh! I can't decide which I love more, the club or the review of a book I love!

Either way, you had us (me & a coworker) in giggles!

johanna said...

Yes! LAME-o's unite! Despite my best intentions (and cork board planning) many a day I spend in LAME land. Glad to see I'm in such good company.

ALso, I've spent quite a few days hanging out in LIME land, but that's another story. A very sour story. (League of Illustrators Misapplying Energy.)

This books sounds amazing! Anything with pickled pig knuckles goes straight to the top of my reading list!

holly cupala said...

Hilarious! LAMErs and LIMErs, unite! Tho I am determined not to qualify today.

lizardek said...

Jitterbugging is a total blast, you should try it! Any swing dancing is a lot of fun.

And sign me up for membership in your club, please!! Too funny!

Lisa Schroeder said...

I can't wait to read that book!

And LAMERS unite!!! I like the seal, but perhaps we can have an official hat too??

Shelli said...

love it! Maybe it could be the new laini lady of the year :)
shelli
http://faeriality.blogspot.com/

CocoaStomp said...

Hee haw! I love LAME.

Ditto what Johanna posted about pig knuckles being the X factor to move a book to the top of the pile.

Please tell me what the official LAME snack is so I can go get it in bulk.

Lexi said...

Ha-HA! This will become the largest club in the world very quickly, I am sure of it!

Laini Taylor said...

Lexi, you're so right. We authors do know how to "misapply our time," don't we?

:-)

myrna said...

Ahhh! You caught me! At least I'm in good company.

Ellen Booraem said...

I'm in. I'm sitting here cruising the Web rather than...you know, that other thing. Plus, I just ate two frosted gingerbread men left over from Christmas, and am expending most of my sugar-crazed energy wondering whether to change into a little something with an elastic wasteband. (So I'll be comfortable enough to... you know... do that thing I'm supposed to be doing.) Does this make me a LAME-O (Overweight)?

Boni Ashburn said...

L.A.M.E. I love it! Can I join? I'll be a VERY good member, I promise.

However, that hand in the official seal is producing far too much writing- it's way more than I've done today. I think it should just be hovering in the air, sort of pensively... :)

Rachael King said...

Hi Laini! I have been doing this kind of dancing (also known as the Lindy Hop, which was the original Jitterbug) for about 9 months now and it is SO much fun. i even did some when I was in Portland. I think Portland has a pretty good swing dancing scene - you should sign up! Make sure you sign up for lindy hop, not the other swing dancing styles - it's the best!

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