All summer my sister kept asking me, what is the deal with this book Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton, and I said, I don't know, I've been hearing about it but I haven't paid much attention. All the while I was thinking, Glennon Doyle Melton. Glennon. Why do I know that name?
And then it hit me. When she came out with her first book, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, it became a bestseller, so I'd requested it from the library, even though I'd never seen much at Momastery.com (Melton's blog, on which the book was based) that really set me on fire. I still remember looking it over before I left the library (sitting in the chair next to the train table, where of course CRjr would have been crashing the trains and the second CRjr would still have been gestating), thinking, yeah, I just don't think there's anything here for me. So I turned it back in without even reading it.
That changed this fall. Melton published a new memoir, titled, of course, Love Warrior, which became an Oprah book and was a book about healing her marriage. Which made it all the more awkward when Melton announced, shortly after her new book's publication, that she and her husband would be separating. And then my sister kept asking me about the book. So I thought, well, I don't really want to wait for ages on the hold list for Love Warrior, but maybe I should give Carry On, Warrior, another chance.
And so I did.
I read it, and then I left it around*, and that's how Mr. CR found it and must have read some of it too. So the other day he said to me, "What's up with that Carry On Warrior book?" And I said, "It's terrible." And he said, "Yeah, it is." And we left it at that and just enjoyed (at least I did) a somewhat rare moment of quiet solidarity in our marriage.
And then I left the book on my table, thinking I should blog about it. So tonight I looked at it and realized what the problem is: I no longer have the heart to write negative reviews about books. Which is a shame, because I am a real believer in the well-written negative review, and I used to like writing a good negative review. So no: I don't think Carry On, Warrior was a great book. I didn't particularly enjoy it. Just as I thought that long-ago day in the library, there was really nothing in this book for me. Here's a bit from an early chapter, when Melton talks about her inspiration for writing and blogging, and describes how one day at the playground she just wanted to have an honest conversation with another woman there:
"I shed my armor and I waved my white flag. All of a sudden I heard myself saying the following to Tess:
Listen. I want you to know that I'm a recovering alcohol, drug, and food addict. I've been arrested because of those things. Craig and I got accidentally pregnant and married a year after we started dating. We love each other madly, but I'm secretly terrified that our issues with sex and anger will eventually screw things up. Sometimes I feel sad and worried when good things happen to other people. I snap at customer service people and my kids and husband regularly. I always have rage right beneath my surface..."
Tess stared at me for so long that I wondered if she was going to call our minister or 911. Then I saw some tears dribble down her cheek. We sat there, and she told me everything. Things with her husband were bad, apparently. Really bad. Tess felt scared and alone. But at the playground that day, Tess decided she wanted help and love more than she wanted me to think she was perfect." (p. 4.)
Okay, whatever. It's not bad writing (most of Melton's essays are so neatly put together, as a matter of fact, that I'm thinking I should study them for my own writing), but it's just not an experience or an outcome that speaks to me. With the exception of a slight problem I have with Reese's peanut butter cups, I don't really have an addictive personality. I also don't have the type of personality that really responds deeply to the heavily repeated use of the word "love." It wasn't really fair of me to describe the book to Mr. CR as "terrible"; it's just a book that is fundamentally NOT FOR ME.
On top of all of this I see tonight, on the Interwebs, that Glennon Doyle Melton is now in a relationship with former soccer superstar Abby Wambach.
I really don't care who Melton dates, and it makes no difference whatsoever to me if who she dates is a man or a woman. But it did make me chuckle just a bit, especially after another popular female memoirist's recent announcement that she had divorced her husband and was now dating a woman. Here is the quote all the news stories have been using, as culled from Melton's Facebook announcement:
"They’re lucky kids, to be surrounded by so much love. We have family dinners together — all six of us — and Abby cooks. (She is an AMAZING chef because Jesus loves me). We go to the kids’ school parties together. We are a modern, beautiful family. Our children are loved. So loved. And because of all of that love, they are brave."
You see what I mean? That is a LOT of uses of the word "love" in one paragraph.
Anyway. So tonight I was washing dishes and wondering why I can't get into these "love"y types of books. And then, I thought, well, of course not, you hate everything. Which is true, in one way. I do profess to hate a lot of things, like all doctors and politicians and people who think corporations are people, etc. But then I thought about it some more and thought, well, you know, I don't really HATE all those things. I like to think that I wouldn't actively go out and cause harm to anyone, even someone I hate. (Although I can't be sure, I don't entirely trust even myself.) And then I thought some more (I had a lot of dishes tonight) about how this all related to Trump, and how everyone seems to be going way overboard in one way or another in reaction to his election. But me? For once I'm kind of sanguine about the whole thing. Yeah, he's a pig. But are we really holding up Bill Clinton as the example of how to respect women? What about JFK? Everyone was so busy NOT looking at all his indiscretions, did anyone ever even count the number of women he used for sexual encounters and then just tossed away? And the nuclear weapons stuff? Yeah, one of our presidents has ALREADY USED NUCLEAR WEAPONS and people mostly called him a hero for it. Is Trump gross? Yes. Was Hillary gross? Yes. Are all politicians gross? Yes.
You see the circles my brain runs in?
So here's what I figure. I'm going to skip the negative review on Melton's book. So it's not for me. Maybe next time I'll realize that sooner and use my time to get up and go help someone instead. That's also what I'm going to do about our political situation. Not pay attention, try to save time and energy that I can hopefully devote to maybe visiting someone who could use a visit. Or helping someone who could use some help. Or even just doing a little better job paying attention to my children rather than reading books that I'm not really enjoying while I'm with them. And maybe in four years we can all vote for someone better, although I would guess whoever comes along in four years is also going to be gross.
See? I ended up being negative somehow. But here's the title of the self-help book I want to write: We're All Assholes but Let's Try to Get Along Anyway. I can't imagine it will become an Oprah book anytime soon.