Well, I almost forgot about this today! My bad. I’ve been in a vacation-y, anniversary-y, Borderlands-y vortex and ended up just reading this section today.
Emily is hosting this lovely readalong of How to Build a Girl (THANKS EMILY!), and if you’d like to pre-order a copy of this you should head on over to Odyssey Bookshop to do that. And if you’re not readalong-ing with us, be aware – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.
I admit – I fell asleep during this section. Partly it’s because dude, I’m tired. But also because there is a LOT of talk about bands that I know nothing about. I think I maybe recognized two band names.
But, let’s see how Johanna’s faring…
I kind of loved that she tries to adopt a new name, because she realized that she needed to do some work on herself a bit (don’t worry Johanna, you’ll spend the rest of your life knowing there’s things you can improve on – just be happy). There are so many times growing up that I kind of wished I could just not be me for a bit. OH and her putting quotes and song lyrics up on her wall. This was me EXACTLY. Index cards all over the walls, with quotes written on them in Sharpie.
“Some of it I write directly onto the paintwork, so it will never be lost, or blown away. I am collaging myself here, on my wall.”
She also perfectly describes my stress going into any new-to-me place, like a comic book store or a college campus, etc – “In my most paranoid fantasy, when I open the door, all the music will stop, and everyone will look up, like in a Wild West saloon bar when a stranger walks in.” I mean, I do better than Johanna in new situations, but barely.
Johanna’s mom is a BIT of a jerk in this section. I’m assuming she might still be going through her postpartum depression, but calling your teenage daughter who helps out with your younger kids a lot a “big fat crow” is a really crappy thing. I do like that she tries to keep Johanna in school though. She fails, but at least she tries.
So, when Johanna goes into the city to interview for a job writing music reviews and she does the misunderstanding the job offer thing… that scene was directly lifted from Moran’s experience that she recounts in Moranthology. I’ve actually only read two chapters of Moranthology so far – I decided to stop because her voice is very distinctive and I didn’t want to confuse myself by reading two Moran books at the same time. But oh look at that, it happened anyways.
I get the whole write-what-you-know thing, but damn. Some of it was word-for-word, and I guess I’m just a little disappointed that she couldn’t think of an different awkward moment for Johanna to have at her interview. How to Build a Girl seems like it’s turning out to be VERY SUPER autobiographical, from what I can tell, and that’s a bit of a letdown because I was excited to read her FICTION. Sooooo now I hope she writes another novel and that it’s a bit more creative.
I’m all over the place here, but one more thing – her dad ups his level of assholeness. He immediately sees Johanna’s new job as a way to get his ridiculous dream as a musician, and he goes with her to her first work assignment/gig so that he can drink on her company’s dime and then drives home drunk. Brilliant. I know a lot of people here readalonging kind of like her dad, but he more and more is so similar to my own dad that I just can’t stand it. It’s frustrating. I hope she realizes how crappy he is. She can still love him, but hopefully also will see him for what he is.
On a happy note, I love that Johanna mentions this –
“Rock music needs very supportive bras, I note, holding onto my own bosoms as I leap up and down, doggedly. This is something the music press had never mentioned. They have so little guidance for girls.”
Stuff like that is why I still really like Johanna and am excited to see where else her story goes. More things like this and less band name-dropping, please. And I apologize to you guys for my brain being scattered in this post. I’ll be more organized next week… probably.