Posts Tagged: Nicole Cliffe

"Negroni Season": The Fan Fiction

It has been three years and three months since the publication of "Negroni Season," one of four short anonymously published tales in the series "The Worst Boyfriend In The World." For those just tuning in, it was about this guy, and he was the worst boyfriend in the world. Fortunately for her but unfortunately for us, our heroine moved on with her life. But there's always one thing to fill the silence that follows any creative endeavor that ended too soon: fan fiction.

“But it’s only thirteen-thousand dollars,” he said, looking up at me from the sofa. “Thirteen-thousand dollars and we can have our own coconut [...]


'Mommie Dearest': Once More With Wire Hangers

It's remarkable that we've been doing this feature for over a year, and are only now cracking the weathered covers of Christina Crawford's masterpiece. When I say "weathered," I mean it: my copy is from 1980 and informs us that said book is "SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOVIE STARRING ANNE BANCROFT AS JOAN CRAWFORD." Some of you may have missed it, so let's review:


What a world that would have been, no? Setting aside the question of how Ms. Bancroft would have tackled the role, can we address the hypothetical arc of Faye Dunaway's career had she never hacked up a rose [...]


'Twilight Series': Bite Me Four Times Shame On Me

While getting ready to write this month's Classic Trash column on Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Nicole tripped on a tree root and was unconscious in a bed of leaves for several hours. This, as best as she can remember it, was the ensuing dream.

Forks, Washington. The Year 3013.

As the dawn broke, I continued doing my new jigsaw puzzle, a beautiful interlocking mosaic released to commemorate the 500th anniversary of a successful Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution based largely but not exclusively on the 1967 borders. It wasn't a physical puzzle, of course, since we now had those retina field computers you accessed with brain waves.

I had [...]


'Atlas Shrugged': Who Is John Galt's Chiropractor?

As I stood on the precipice of Atlas Shrugged after a lifetime of merely saying the expected, snide things about Ayn Rand, I found myself consumed with foreboding. I already enjoy listening to Rush. I have a surprising amount of money for someone with my background and skill-set. I have the unwarranted ego of a white, female Kanye West without musical ability. Moreover, I have terrible natural instincts.*

*Evidence of the Latter

1. I thought Clinton was telling us the truth about That Woman. 2. I thought John Edwards was nobly devoted to Elizabeth. 3. At the age of six, while watching a documentary about JFK, I concluded that [...]


'The Mists Of Avalon': Free To Be In Camelot

(Trill of exultation.) The Mists of Avalon, which I somehow managed not to read until two or three years ago, has a very peculiar place in my heart. Regret and relief, it might be fair to say? I can guarantee that this is a book I would have taken far, far too seriously if I'd read it when I was eleven. As it stands, I completely tore through it and wore more dresses for a while and dragged out my Loreena McKennitt CDs and took a lot of baths with Lush products and pretended to be a servant to the Goddess, but in that awkward, slightly-embarrassed, self-conscious way you do [...]


Books Discussed

Awl pals Nicole Cliffe and Richard Rushfield talk about Classic Trash on Richard's podcast. It's here!


'The Autobiography Of Henry VIII': Which Ill-Fated Wife Would You Be?

Shiver of happiness. Oh, Awl-My-Children, of all the trashy books we've enjoyed so far, Margaret George's The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes By His Fool, Will Somers is the one I have read most often. That's just sad, I know, but my favorite kind of trash is thinly sourced historical fiction. Extremely long and convoluted, thinly sourced historical fiction. How many of us arrived in college, planning to formally study our preferred era, only to discover that Gone With the Wind is an Un-Book and that no reputable university will allow you to write a dissertation on which of Henry VIII's wives is your imaginary bestie and why? Philippa [...]


It's The Toast

From Awl pals Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg comes The Toast, a new website that you should go read! They're having a couple of birthing issues at the moment, but keep trying, it'll work eventually.


The Future Looks Back On 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story'

It is December 20, 2007, the day before the release of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, and John C. Reilly are sharing a beer, excited, expectant. There is a puff of smoke. A young woman appears in their midst. She is nondescript, but their attention is drawn to her dress. Peplum silhouettes aren't in. Not… yet. Apatow immediately senses she is from the future.

The Woman: I am from 2013.

The Three Men: Let's just totally accept that without asking a bunch of questions, and assume you're here to tell us about "Walk Hard." It's a hit, right?

The Woman: It is not. You are [...]


'Papillon': Thug Life In French Guiana

We don't usually tell you that reading a particular "Classic Trash" selection is mandatory, so let's take it slowly: "youuuuu mussssttttt reaaddddd thissss boookkkkk." Whew. Okay! Now we can talk about it.

Papillon is my jam. Papillon is the best. Papillon is the most fun. Papillon is the shit. Do you ever do that thing in a new relationship where you assign reading? NO, THE WORST, I KNOW, but you show up with a plastic bag containing four paperbacks and say: "You are not going to understand why I am this horrible, aggravating way unless you do the reading"? Does anyone else do that?

Well, I do that, and Papillon [...]


'Stranger In A Strange Land': Can You Grok That?

When I decided to go with Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land as this month's pick, the first thing I did was call my dad, being generationally incapable of solving problems without parental input. My dad, last shanghaied into action for our Hammer of the Gods discussion, is a man of exquisite and discerning taste. Sometimes, though, he must be nudged along:

Nicole: Dad, you have to watch "Sherlock," it's a revelation. Dad: I watched about ten minutes. It's not believable that he's that smart. Nicole: YOU WATCHED ALL OF "BUFFY" TWICE, ASSHOLE, AND VAMPIRES AREN'T REAL. I'm sending you the DVDs. Call me back when you've seen [...]


Famous Novels Take Two: Judging The Sequels

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When I was little, I had a typewriter my parents got at a garage sale for about three dollars, plus the cost in shoe leather of tracking down a place to buy those awful inky ribbon things. And, being seven or eight, I knew that there was no point in writing my own book, because it wouldn't be any good, so I instead attempted to copy out The Lord of the Rings. I never got more than a third of a chapter in, due to my belief that any typo [...]


'Gone With The Wind': Devil In A Black Bombazine Dress

And here we come, at last, to the selection closest to my dark and twisty heart, Margaret Mitchell's hideous bitch-goddess of a novel, Gone With the Wind. It's awful! It's wonderful! It's Marlboro Reds. Apparently, in a 2008 poll, it clocked in at second place (behind The Bible) as the favorite book of the American people. If that doesn't explain your local news reports, what will?

I'd love to be able to say, as one does about C.S. Lewis, "oh, I didn't get the super-offensive subtext about how Muslims inadvertently worship a flaming devil-beast, even though Jesus will still consider taking them to heaven so long as they don't also [...]


'The Secret History': I Know What You Did Last Reading Period

Oh. Oh. WHAT could be more delightful? You've read it, of course. It's… oh, I can't even describe it. It's a delight. A melodramatic, delightful delight. Do you have a guest room? Put this next to the bed. Were you one of the many young people who became a classics major as a direct result of The Secret History? Put this next to your threadbare futon with the soy sauce stains on it. Donna Tartt: kicking ass and ruining lives since 1992.

Let's talk about that title. It's awful! And, obviously, I assumed that it was one of those situations in which the author has a totally boss title, and [...]


Michael Crichton's 'Sphere': The Power of Positive Thinking

What a difference 27 years makes, huh? I'm referring to the gap between the 1971 film adaptation of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain and the 1998… whatever that was… of Sphere. I mean, we're mostly going to be talking about Michael Crichton's novels, but to prattle on happily for several paragraphs about Sphere without acknowledging what Barry Levinson did to it would be like not picturing a blue Billy Crudup in your head while re-reading Watchmen. We need to breathe through it, come to acceptance, and move on.

That was a shitty movie. And, to my earlier point about the gap between The Andromeda Strain and Sphere, here is [...]


'IT': Seriously, Guys, Get Out Of Maine Before You Die Terribly

What a great labor of love it is to discuss Stephen King's most magnificent octopus (okay, technically, I guess that would be The Stand, but I didn't read it until a year ago, so it didn't make as significant a dent in my psyche) in our august online publication. Let's stick to the novel, but you are free to go bananas about the Tim Curry television movie in the comments. For the record, you'll never watch him as "Rooster" in Annie the same way again (thank the Turtle she wound up with Daddy Warbucks instead). I guess when you have a mouth that looks like a yawning maw of terror, [...]


For Those Who Have Asked Politely About My "Novel"

As National Novel Writing Month slogs on, the next in our series about the novels that we started writing but, for whatever reason, never finished.

Do you remember the episode of "The Simpsons" where Marge scores the fake Chanel suit? She looks incredible in it, straight-up incredible, and then this rich bitch she went to high school with spots her and briefly ushers her into Springfield high society? Anyway, she has only the one fake Chanel suit, so she has to transform it into culottes and an evening gown, etc. in order to keep the illusion afloat, but ultimately she stays true to herself because of Homer and [...]


'Rebecca': The Real Housewives Of Cornwall County

Oh, DAPHNE. Daphne. "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." THAT'S how you open a novel, guys! Right there. Make it count. What's Manderley? Why aren't you there now? Why are you telling me about it? We have so many questions, and we've barely used our old-timey paper knives to cut open the first few leaves. (Just kidding! This book is from the 1930s, the leaves were already cut for you. Which is good, really, because I don't even like to have to turn my Kindle on, and instead just leave it in sleep-mode all the time, you know?) No, the first chapter of the novel is not [...]


'Naked Came The Stranger': The Dirtiest Book Ever Written By A Group Of Newspaper Guys

So often when we discuss (great) works of (terrible) literature, one wonders: why did this book come to be? Is the author genuinely attempting to save helpless young women from falling prey to the dangers of the big city? Is the author going through an expensive divorce? Is the author's older brother a serious novelist who always gets served first at family reunions? Is the author trying to see what happens when you pair 'shrooms and tequila? Or, perhaps, a glorious mishmash of the above, for are we not all palimpsests even unto ourselves? (THOMAS HARDY, you guys.) The lovely thing about the EXQUISITE Naked Came the Stranger, you see, [...]


'Wideacre': Depraved Estate-Management For Dummies

We here at Classic Trash love Philippa Gregory, dearly. We love The Wise Woman, which involved a lot of zombie candle-wax creatures who stabbed fetuses; we love her attempt to get into the mind-grapes of each and every one of Henry VIII's wives and female relations (okay, not all of them, but the interesting ones); but most of all, we love Wideacre. (We're sticking here to the first book of the trilogy, so hold your thoughts on The Favored Child and Meridon for the time being.)

This book is totally disgusting—and it was absolutely the highlight, for me, of being nine years old and trying to find something to read [...]