S2 E6: Books set in New England (our hometown)

This week we all read books that were set in our neck of the woods. New England!

Aileen starts us off with On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Set at a Harvard-esque university, On Beauty covers a wide swath of topics, like elitism, Eastern Liberalism, and identity struggles within a bi-racial family.

Lauren read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. She loves this book that weaves together the Salem Witch Trial with 1990’s Massachusetts, full of family lore, spells, strange keys falling out of books, and a satisfying love story to boot. She even found herself visiting Salem while she was reading it and appreciated how the author used real places and real events in her story.

Alisa probably “won” this week with her read, We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry. Set in Danvers, Massachusetts (the actual place where the Salem Witch Trials occurred) this story is about an early 90’s field hockey team that signs their names in a book graced with the face of Emilio Estevez and goes from never having won a game all the way to the playoffs. Filled with details that made the gang gasp and groan in recognition, this uplifting read was immediately put on everyone’s TBR.

Josie read The Secret History by Donna Tartt, another Aileen Assignment. So of course it had about a thousand pages, but Josie thought they flew by. Not really a murder mystery, not really a coming of age, this modern Great Gatsby-like story is more a meditation on elitism and guilt than it is a who-done-it. Expertly written and executed, Josie would recommend it to anyone but Alisa (who’s just too sensitive for this sort of thing).

Trigger warnings: heavy drug and alcohol abuse, suicide.

The following transcript was translated by an AI program so unfortunately, we can’t vouch for its accuracy.

Alisa: [00:00:00] my mic needs like a, what is it? Cialis or something? It needs something. It won’t stay erect. It’s uh,

Aileen: Mine does that too.

Alisa: I think that’s better it’s flacid. It’s

Aileen: You have limped Mike,

Alisa: guess I’m not, holding it the right way.

Aileen: hold, hold it more firmly. Alyssa.

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: Don’t use your teeth.

Josie: Hello and welcome to fiction between friends, a podcast, dedicated to books and book lovers like us. I’m Josephine Angelini

Lauren: I’m Lauren Sanchez.

Alisa: I’m Alisa Hillfinger,

Aileen: and Aileen Calderon,

Josie: we’re four childhood friends from the suburbs of Massachusetts.

Lauren: I’ve always loved to read almost as much as we love to talk to each other.

Alisa: We started this podcast as a way to celebrate how a really good book can come into your life and change it.

Aileen: So if you’re looking for fun and engaging conversations about books, stick around.

Josie: This is fiction between friends. And we’re glad you’ve joined us.

Welcome back. This is episode six, season two. I’m [00:01:00] Josephine, Angelini, and joining me are my dear friends. Ayleen Calderon

Aileen: Hello?

Josie: Lauren Sanchez

Lauren: Hi there.

Josie: and Alyssa hillfinger

Alisa: Hi.

Josie: So how’s everyone doing?

Aileen: Good. I survived a five-year-old’s birthday.

Alisa: Well you survived throwing a five-year-old birthday

Aileen: Yes. It was, yes, that’s true. That was, oh my God. I didn’t sleep for like the past week because I was stressing out about, you know, you just find stupid shit to worry about like, oh my God, I should create a playlist and I need to make sure I put like, let it go on, you know, just dumb stuff. And then I realized that week before that I had accidentally invited like 40 people, which is just a stupid number of people who invite to any party, nevermind one for a five-year-old it went well.

 I think everybody had a good time. Like, it felt like a good fun party. I got like superhero capes and mass and stickers for them, decorate them. So they were all like, why it’s mommy?

Will you help me? Why it’s mommy? I need you. Why it’s mommy? Like none? No. My name is I’m this white. So it was, it was good. I felt good afterwards. And then my friend and I went to a bar and got drinks, which [00:02:00] is also good because I haven’t done that in so long. Like it felt so nice and normal.

Lauren: I did that Friday night. I went out after work and had drinks with my coworker was so nice.

Josie: I w I went up to the Sierras to a friend’s cabin and she had people over. Yeah,

We had, like, we had wine and we had dinner. We had conversation. It was amazing. There was a fire going and everything. It was

Lauren: Oh, that sounds great.

Josie: It was obvious. Like people I’ve never met before and I’m physically shaking their hands.

That’s amazing.

Aileen: breathing on each other.

Lauren: That’s, that’s still feels a

Alisa: It does feel weird.

Josie: Yeah, it did

Aileen: yeah, it came like birthday cake time and I’m like, well, we’re not blowing out candles. Like how disgusting is

Alisa: I have always thought that was disgusting. And at least now, maybe

Josie: my whole cake.

Aileen: and then you eat it.

Lauren: You remember those candles that the trick birthday candles and they wouldn’t actually blow out. So here they

Aileen: Like spit on the cake more. Do it again.

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: I never [00:03:00] even thought about that.

Aileen: Alyssa, have you recovered from your trip?

Alisa: Um, maybe.

Aileen: Galapagos islands? How was

Alisa: Um, well, our flight back home was canceled because of the storm. So that wasn’t fun. like there’s no way to describe it. It was just fantastic, but yeah, it has been a slow crawl back to normal and

Aileen: do you, what do you, what did you do there exactly? Like what does one do in the Galapagos

Alisa: not a vacation. It’s an experience. Um, and so there’s a lot of ecotourism and I mean, just really going to see each of the different islands has different specific attributes, whether it’s the topography and the way the island itself is shaped. And the remnants of it are all volcanic, um, or one island is in particular known for all of the sea lions that hang out there.

Another one is for all the tortoises. Um,

yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s fantastic. There’s a lot of being on the ocean, traveling between [00:04:00] islands and snorkeling and hiking and it’s fabulous.

Aileen: Is there a civilization there too? Like, are there hotels and like, what else is there?

Alisa: Um, each of the islands has its own little, like main center of town. That’s usually right next to the pier and then there’s shops and restaurants, and then the next layer back would be hotels. And then the next layer back from that would be more residential. And then the tourists who are there, it’s a very specific kind of tourist that wants to be there. Um, you know, it’s not like a spring break hotspot getaway where you have, you know

Aileen: get wasted and fuck with a guanos.

Alisa: Uh,

Josie: I went to that.

Alisa: yeah,

Aileen: That was all my whole college experience. Basically. I told you about the time I swelled alive

Alisa: Yes. We have heard that story actually.

Aileen: keep me away from those islands.

Alisa: Um, yeah, so everybody there is just wonderful.

Aileen: you brought high [00:05:00] schoolers. Like this was like a

Alisa: Yeah, there were 33 teenagers, but I voluntarily do that every day. So that’s not, that’s not that big a deal.

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: you’ve got to be exhausted. I’m sorry. That’s just even saying 33 teenagers. My eye starts to Twitch, like, Oh my God.

Aileen: Yeah, traveling plus teenagers.

Alisa: yeah. It’s uh, it’s interesting for sure.

Lauren: My cat’s back.

Alisa: Oh, good.

Aileen: What book did he read? Dallas?

Lauren: Yeah, he read, do you want me to talk about my book, but what are we talking about today?

Josie: Yeah. We’re talking about books that were based in new England. So we all pick new England books but there were some very different though, like all of us read super different books. yeah.

Ayleen actually, why don’t you, why don’t you start us off? Because I think your book is the best lead in

Aileen: Yeah, let me talk about mine. Um, which I think Josie, your book and my book probably have a little bit of overlap. Just I read on beauty by Zaidi Smith. It’s, [00:06:00] it’s loosely based on a Howard’s end, it takes place in a fictitious town called Wellington, but when you read it, you’re like, this is clearly about Harvard and Cambridge, Massachusetts. So it’s about this guy, Howard , who is a professor at this college. And he, um, he is British, his wife, Kiki is black, um, and they have three kids, aura, Levi, and Jerome.

And they’re very, very liberal. Howard is very into Rembrandt and he’s been working on a book about Rembrandt, like his entire career. And every year is like, Nope, still not finished, still working on it. Um, and he’s, you know, he’s kind of pompous and full of himself and his lots of opinions. Um, the family dynamic is really fun.

Their youngest. Levi is everybody. I think everybody in the book is sort of searching for their identity. Like I think, especially since they have, you know, a white father and a black mother, that sort of something that they grapple with Levi really wants to be street. Like he really wishes he came from like Roxbury and like a poor [00:07:00] neighborhood.

So he’s, but meanwhile, he’s coming from like a town that’s like Cambridge, Massachusetts with like lots of really, you know, wealthy cultured people. Um, Zuora goes to the school and is very outspoken and opinionated. Um, and. Jerome actually kind of sparks the controversy in the book because he, he decides he’s going to become a born again, Christian, which very much goes against this very


Alisa: the

Aileen: atheist family’s beliefs.

Yes. And to make matters worse. He goes and does an internship with, uh, Monte Kip, who is a professor who is very conservative. And it’s basically Howard Bellsy is like arch enemy. So he goes and lives with the family, ends up sleeping with the daughter, like all sorts of, you know, just all sorts of things, SU um, and then this, you know, controversial professor comes and teaches at Wellington college.

So there’s sort of the families start to like butt heads, but they also sort of get intertwined with each other and [00:08:00] really kind of interesting ways. So, It’s funny. It’s called on beauty. Which I kept thinking, like, why is, I was like, why is it called that? And there’s definitely a lot of discussion about like appearances and how you look to other people.

And like, there’s a lot of attraction and they’re pompous old professors screwing hot young college students. Like 57 year old and a 19 year old to,

Alisa: Is this modern day.

Aileen: so the book was written in 2005, so fairly modern day, you know, I’ll, I’ll topics that are still really relevant for now. Okay. So Kiki, when Howard met her was, you know, like thin and gorgeous, and then, you know, she, they talk a lot about how large she’s gotten. She’s just like a very like big woman with like a big, strong presence. So there’s a lot of talk about appearances and how people view themselves and how other people view them.

Um, and they, they do actually, there is a poem called on beauty, which is, it’s one of those things that’s like mentioned somewhere like in the middle of the [00:09:00] book and you read it and you’re like, wait a minute. Is this it? Is this telling me what this book is about? And then I read the poem and I was like, uh, maybe, I don’t know, maybe I’m just too dumb to fall along. But she like Zadie Smith. I read, I read her other book. Um, I think it was white teeth, which was her first book. And she’s like, she’s a great writer. She’s funny. Like, there are a lot of like funny moments. Her dialogue is really strong. Like the family there, they have lots of, you know, they’re kind of sarcastic with each other and give each other a hard time and have, you know, everybody within the family has an interesting dynamic.

Um, so this is, uh, an exp I’ll redo an exchange between Howard and Kiki. Um, but the exact opposite of what I want considered Howard rocking in his chair is what always fucking happens. Kiki stopped what she was doing, right. Because you never get what you want. Your life is just an orgy of deprivation. So there’s, there’s just like everybody in it is like very smart, very quick.

Um,[00:10:00] Oh, this one, this is just a really short one. She’s uh, I think this is from Kiki’s perspective describing this other couple, the Wilcox has owned a preppy chain, closed chain store gave generously to the college and looked like the shells of two Atlantic shrimp and evening wear.

Alisa: Even mean, looked like the shells of shrimp and evening wear. So am I picturing the shrimp dressed in evening wear or are they in evening wear, but look like

Aileen: but that’s what I mean. I read it and I was like, that’s really funny, but I don’t quite get it, but it’s entertaining. That was like the whole, the whole book. I was like, I think I get this, but I’m not quite sure, but the book, so like our topic is new England books said new England, and I feel like it had some of the, like, there are certain things I think people think of when they think of new England snooty, elite college check.

Got that. There’s lots of talk about like the cold, hard winter and the weather being shitty check. Got that. But [00:11:00] I mean, that’s pretty much it. I feel like those two things are what, like, if you’re going to talk about new England, those become kind of big parts of your story.

Josie: My book has that new England mindset. There’s like a very particular collegiate erudite. Yes. Snooty, but also just, just people who really do think that they’re better than

you because they’re better educated mold money.

Aileen: Lots of snootiness. Yes. That is huge in this one too.

Josie: yeah.

Aileen: Like everybody just kind of looks down on everyone else.

Josie: Yeah. And it’s like, almost like my area of study is far more

Aileen: And things being old, too.

Josie: yeah.

Aileen: Lots of old buildings, lots of history.

wait, I feel like I had a quote about that. Oh no, this is just a night. Here’s an, and this isn’t about being old, but I thought this passage was nice. Um, summer left Wellington abruptly and slammed the door on the way out. The shutter sent the leaves to the ground all at once and Zuora Belzy had that strange late September feeling that somewhere in a small classroom with small chairs and elementary school teacher was waiting for her.

Alisa: Hmm.

Aileen: Don’t you still get that feeling?

I mean, I let

Alisa: Yes, [00:12:00] I do.

Aileen: Alyssa dies, steal your reality. So obviously, but I feel like summer ends and you suddenly, it feels like, like summer feels like the fun carefree time, and then you hit the end of August and you kind of get bummed out and you feel like things are going to change.

And as an adult, it doesn’t really change, but you still have that, like back to school feeling. I don’t know if it’s different in LA, because your weather’s always same all the time, except when things are on fire, but.

Alisa: right.

Aileen: Well, the, the weather has a huge impact on your, I mean, obviously like your mood, but even personalities. Like I remember when I moved to Portland, Oregon after college, I was like, oh, wait, sarcasm doesn’t exist here. Like, people were just very friendly and nice and I would make a sarcastic joke or use the word fuck.

And people kind of looked at me like, where did you come from? And I felt like I was like offending everyone. Like, and I think part of it is the weather. Like, I don’t know. I think, I mean, in Portland, Oregon, it’s not, it doesn’t have LA type weather. I went to LA after I went to Portland, but like, you go to LA and I feel like it’s sunny and people are kind [00:13:00] of like a little more carefree and there’s not that like cynicism that you get from like the cold

Alisa: Well, you have to build up a shell of resistance. If you live out here, you have to have a coping mechanism.

Lauren: And there was that like crusty new Englander as like a, you know, like a stereotype.

Josie: Yeah, but there’s also, there’s a currency in that. So this snootiness this like new England snootiness that we’re talking about is all based on a class system. That’s sort of recognized and understood on the east coast. So it’s like, oh, you’re old money. Oh, you went to Harvard or you went to this particular prep school, or, you know, you grew up in this town, in the right street and you got the right education that gives you status in Los Angeles.

It’s a completely different, it’s different. It’s are you famous?

Aileen: yes. When I lived in LA I lasted all of five months. I was like, I hate this place. Get me outta here. mean, I

Josie: two people who suck and like that matters to them and you don’t have to have, there are plenty of people out here, nuts and [00:14:00] bolts people, people who actually do work on TV shows and do know famous people and they could give a rat’s ass about that stuff. They’re just there to do their art, really.

And those are the people you want to hang out with there. And the people who that status matters to them, that they’re of small percentage, but that is, you know, that is like a certain that gives you a certain sort of cachet out here. Whereas on the east coast, it’s all, what school did you go to? You know, like how old is your family?

What town did you grow up in?

Aileen: LA is like a city of transplants, Boston. It’s like, no, I was born and raised here. I have my friends, like, I’m good. And everybody’s just also very sincere.

So they’re not going to like bullshit with you unless they really want to, you know?

Josie: or they’ve come out there to go to school and they’ve decided to stay and they have their friends from school and their friends from work. And they’re not looking to network or find out about you in any way. Yeah.

What’s your book about like, you keep you keep saying it’s on beauty.

Alisa: a story or is

Aileen: yeah, I mean, so, so it it’s basically, the story is when, so Herod Bellsy [00:15:00] is teaching at this Harvard, like school Mani Kip comes and has like opposing views. The families kind of hate each other, but then the individuals in the, in the families get to know each other and kind of develop. Relationships, it’s, it’s a very kind of, it’s a rambling story.

Like I, it took me a while to kind of wrap my head around it. Um, but it’s really about just the relationships that I don’t know, I guess, like family dynamics and people of opposing views and like stopping and listening to each other and respecting people with different perspectives and like not everything is, is quite what it seems.

And yeah. I mean, a lot of it’s about family dynamics. Like there’s a lot about the dynamics between each of the parents and their kids, and then like between each of the families and how they view each other.

Alisa: So it’s very relationship based as opposed to like, you know, my book, which has a very specific story that drives what’s

Aileen: yeah, like they’re, they’re sort of, they’re like, there’s not like one. Like plot line throughout really? There’s just like multiple things as you see different [00:16:00] people and their relationships and like how they think about themselves evolve and change. I mean, she’s like, she’s like, she’s a great writer.

 but it was one of those books, you know how some books you read it, you’re like, oh, I get it. Like there was a murder, they need to solve the murder. Like got the plot. This was one of those books where I was like, I don’t know, 150 pages in.

And I’m like, oh, how would I sum this up? I have no idea. I guess I need to keep reading and like, see how it impacts.

Alisa: So, this is like a good book club book, though, where, you know, you could get together and talk about all the different things and have other people share their ideas.

Aileen: Yeah. That’s a good way to put it. Cause you could just pick one character and just discuss one character for a while. Like there, that one character is how they perceive themselves, their dynamics with other people, how other people perceive them versus how they perceive themselves. You know?

Josie: And is that the overarching commentary you’d say, or the overarching theme is talking about how, you know, that Eastern liberal idea confronting that very conservative idea and how both of them have good points. Like there’s no moral majority really. It’s just.

Aileen: Yeah, [00:17:00] that’s definitely a part of it. It’s not, I would say the biggest theme in it because also the two, like main characters, which are the two, well, the two male professors are, they’re both kind of pompous blowhards. So you don’t necessarily, you don’t really love either one of them. They’re kind of entertaining to watch because they’re just, they’re, they’re arrogant, you know, they, they feel like guys who would be teaching at Harvard just to make a generalization.

Um, so yeah, you’re not necessarily rooting for one over the other because they both do terrible things and, you know, think too highly of themselves. Like there’s such a high degree of arrogance for both of them. So even like, you know, being a liberal, I couldn’t really get fully behind Howard cause I’m like, oh, you’re just kind of a douche bag.

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: anything, his wife was a more sympathetic character. Like she just, she seemed real. Like she’s, she’s also kind of an outsider, you know? Cause she’s this like big boisterous black woman in this like elitist. Culture. And she, you know, she’s not an academic. She works. I think she works at like a hospital or something, you know?

So it’s not [00:18:00] really her world. She’s just there because she’s married to a guy. Who’s a professor, but she’s instantly just a more likable person than he is.

Alisa: how did you end up picking this? Cause what we had talked about, like, oh, wouldn’t it be fun to do, you know, a new England theme, whatever that version was. So how’d you

Aileen: I, so I, I was, I was looking up new England based books. Didn’t find anything. And then I found one by eighties, Zadie Smith, for some reason, I’ve always, I really want to love her. Like I read, I, I. Sh she’s a gorgeous black woman. like,

she’s just like, there’s something just so cool about her. Um, speaking of beauty, it’s interesting that she wrote this book and she’s definitely like, people talk about like her style and how attractive she is.

And she’s also brilliant. Um, but you know, I read white teeth, which got rave reviews and like, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. And I’ve always been like, I think I need to read another book by her. So then when I saw that this one was based in new England, I was like, oh, cause I had forgotten about her. I was like, oh cool.

It’s a good chance to read another book by her. So

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: that is why.

Josie: cool. [00:19:00] So, but was it a world? Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Alisa: Well, I was going to say, Lauren, how did you pick your book?

Lauren: I had read my book before, and

it immediately came to mind when we decided on this topic. I thought I really liked that book. I’ll read it again. I read the physic book of deliverance, Dane by Catherine Howell.

Alisa: What’s the name of.

Lauren: wrote

Aileen: again?

Lauren: the physic book of deliverance day and it’s spelled P H Y S I C K.

So it’s like.

Aileen: What does that mean?

Lauren: Yeah. So that, that, that’s interesting that you bring that up because throughout the book, the name of the book, the name physic book changes, it can be Almanac receipt book, meaning like recipes, it’s called the shadow book or grimoire so it’s actually a book full of spells. Um, so this book takes place in Salem Marblehead.

So you can see where that’s going. It’s it’s about, um,

Aileen: witches there

Lauren: well, yeah, kind of, so I, I, I do gravitate toward books about witches and I didn’t. Yeah. I read your books [00:20:00] about witches and I’m actually, we talked about that, interestingly. I have been in marble and Salem this weekend, how coincidental I went to see our friend Kristin in Marblehead and had a dinner in Salem with her, and then actually went back today with my daughter.

Who’s looking at Salem state university. And I met up with my step nephew.

So I spent a lot of time. I do love Salem. I mean, when I came out of the restaurant yesterday, there was a house like the houses are right on the sidewalk. Yeah. And parts of the city there. And, uh, one of them was like listing to the side. I’m like, oh, new England, you

Josie: new England.

Lauren: Uh,

Aileen: What was it? Like, what was the summary of your book? What’s it about?

Lauren: Yeah. It’s about a young grad student who just passes her, um, orals and at Harvard university, her name is Connie Goodwin. One of her professors is named Chilton Manning or Manning Chilton. And, uh, he’s like Boston Brahman type. So it, it goes between, um, 1991, [00:21:00] which I’m sure you guys, that this was like our era and I’m 1629. So it’s the Salem witch trials and it’s modern day, but it’s not quite like day. Like we know it. So if you go to a library to do research, it’s very different than doing research in the library today.

Yeah. So, um, she, she she’s pressured by this tilting Manning Manning Tilton guy to, you know, find primary sources for her doctoral dissertation, but he has other, you find out later on in the book that he has other designs on those. Like he wants, there’s something about her that he wants her to find this particular.

Uh, primary source and she, everything gets disrupted because her mom asks her to move up to Marblehead and move into her grandmother’s home, which has completely run down and has been abandoned for basically 20 years. Doesn’t have electricity, it’s all grown and there’s like poisonous plants in the garden.

because taxes [00:22:00] haven’t been paid on it since she died and now they need to like sell it. So she goes up there with a friend she moves in, it’s a P it’s a shed hall the first night that she’s there. She is looking through the books on the shelf and she opens this big Bible. And this key falls out, which you find out later on, has to do with a certain spell.

Okay. But inside the key is the name on this parchment paper called deliverance Dane, and that’s sort of sets, you know, why is there a piece of parchment paper rolled up in this, this old key? What is this Kiko to sets off this side? You know, all these events and there’s there’s romance. And she, she finds the physic book and it helps her heal her paramour.

And, um, it’s a lot of fun because, because you’re going from Cambridge at Harvard university, you’re up in Salem. And if you know this area, you, I mean, I was like, I walked by the first church of Salem today, randomly, and I was like, that’s in the book. there’s the Athenaeum, you know, like I was, [00:23:00] I was living it this weekend.

It was such a coincidental thing. Um, it’s a fun book. I remember the first time I read it. It’s a, it’s a quick read. Um,

Aileen: but what’s his tone of the book? Like, is it like a mystery? Is it horror? Is it romance?

Lauren: horror at all and it’s not romance. It’s, it’s sort of. Kind of, I mean, a little bit of that in there. Um, it’s historical historical fiction, let’s see here. I don’t know. I’m trying to think of a word to describe it. It’s it’s a great story, you know, you’re, it’s, it is a mystery, like what, what happens to this delivery deliverance day?

And, you know, you don’t hear that name, you hear Proctor, you hear, um,

Aileen: So is it, is it, is it the main character researching and trying to

sort of find out what happened

Lauren: exactly. But in the end it’s really related to her. It’s her family, you know, so it’s, it’s great. Um, I

Aileen: it? Who is it? Who’s the author.

Lauren: How


Aileen: she from Boston?

Lauren: yeah. You know, I was the whole time in meeting this I’m like, yeah, I should.

She completed is completing a [00:24:00] PhD in American and new England studies and is a descendant of Elizabeth Proctor. So that’s quite interesting. Um,

Yeah. So I think that, uh, yeah, she lives in Massachusetts. but like you were talking about the, there’s a lot of reference to like old new England. It’s almost a little much because I think I’m from here, I’m like, okay, enough already, like I guess saying, oh, I’m all

Aileen: like stereotypes,

Lauren: I mean, if you say all set, she has to point out that when you’re at a restaurant that’s very new England to say you’re, oh, I’m all set or you’re in a store.

Like I’m all set. And I’m like, is it really,

Alisa: Hm,

Lauren: I don’t know

Josie: is this something only we say, I mean, I can’t say that.

I’ve heard it out here. Like when I, if people say you’re fine and that’s something that I was like, you know, when you’re bumping into someone that like, oh, you’re fine. It’s like, thanks, Mike. I didn’t ask you. You know what I

Alisa: how dare you tell

Lauren: I’ve never heard that. What does that mean?

Aileen: thank you.

Josie: if they put your, if like a waiter, oh no, can I get you something else?

And you go, no, I’m all set. Is That really just an, uh, a Boston

Alisa: [00:25:00] can’t

be a new

Aileen: I don’t buy it.

Lauren: either, but, um, there were a lot of things like that in the book. So I, I found one to read to you. so she’s, she’s looking for something at the will and probate department, which I backed by today. Um,

Aileen: I do. I do love when author stay true to the geography and the

Lauren: yeah, no, no, that was


Aileen: it’s real things that you’re like, yes, you’ve actually been to this place and you’re recreating it in a realistic way.

Alisa: Yeah.

Lauren: Yeah. I mean, it was great walking through Sam today, I felt like this was giving me a tour. You know, the book I had it fresh in my mind, so I was actually like looking for things and they were right there. Um, she’s talking to, I am looking for a will. That would have been probated in 1690s there by name, not by date. The woman barked, I see said Connie, the muscles in her jaw tightening like a rope wrapping around a CLI and the files have not been cross referenced by date, no call for it said the women, no call for it, the new England character, as a matter of course, privileged sameness above all else, including efficiency, [00:26:00] because it’s always been that ne ne way was an explanation that Connie had encountered before in her research.

It stood like rest works, keeping the non new England world at bay. I don’t know what that means.

Aileen: I don’t either.

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: I was like, is this still me being stupid? Or are you clear? How are you confirming that I’m an idiot or it’s

Lauren: No, but I think if they’re just saying like, you know, we’re stubborn, new Englanders were like, why should we change things? We don’t need to do it differently. I, I mean, I get that even in the library and world, it’s like, for so long, it was like, why would we change stuff? Let’s just keep it the way it is.


Aileen: so Lauren, did you like the book?

Lauren: Oh yeah. I mean, like I said, it’s, just a fun, fast read there, there wasn’t a whole lot of thinking behind it. It was just entertaining.

Aileen: So now we have two books that are based on like elite universities, both Harvard, Alyssa, what about your.

Alisa: Oh, my gosh, my book was so fun. Okay. So first of all, big props to, Brett Morgan, Ellie who works in the high school. When I walked in and said, Brett, I’m curious about a book for, you [00:27:00] know, something about new England. And she said, oh, there’s a book that I recently saw about the Dan verse, 1989 girls field hockey team. and immediately

Lauren: this book. I’ve heard

Alisa: we ride upon sticks

Josie: You guys, you know, my mom lives

Alisa: yes. So then it’s the whole Josie connection,

Josie: Yeah. Because our farm is in Wenham and Dan versus right? next to Wynnum and like where my farm is, is sort of on the border of Topsfield and one of them. And So Dan versus all stuck in there right next to Salem, it’s all basically the same town.


Alisa: So Kwan Barry wrote this book and she, I think she, she grew up in Danvers. Um, and so I don’t quite know if this was her graduating year or, you know, kind of how, how true it was. She does acknowledge that, oh, she, uh, she played field hockey and she does acknowledge that the coach in the book was named after their coach.

so it’s all about this like, bad news [00:28:00] bears team. So

this book is all about essentially that like this crappy ass team pulling it together. And

Aileen: is it, wait, is this fiction or is this somewhat based on a true story type thing or just her experience?

Alisa: it’s classified as fiction, but so it opens with them at, the summer field hockey camp at UNH.

Josie: You guys used to do that?

Lauren: We used to go to Springfield

Alisa: I know ours was

out west.

Aileen: I lost. my toenail there. That was painful.

Alisa: okay. I thought you might say something else. Like some of these other girls

lost some things out there. Um,

Aileen: No, they were losing that. I was losing toenails.

Alisa: um, so it opens with them, you know, having this really awful experience, just like getting trounced every time they would play. And it really, it was the whole team was there.

And so they were training as a team. And one of the girls gets her, um, Emilio Estefan says, notebook her spiral bound notebook with Emilio on the [00:29:00] cover. And I mean, it’s 1989. So there’s, Big hair, just wait. Big hair has its own character, but then they mentioned fatal attraction. They talk about boom boxes, kiss 1 0 8 was the radio

Aileen: Oh,

Alisa: um, they talk about going to cheat cheese for the fried ice cream

Lauren: Oh, yeah. Okay. This girl, she’s my girlfriend, this author. I know her.

Josie: I think we went to high school with her.

Alisa: and then, um, references to solid gold and the solid gold dancers,

Aileen: oh

Josie: Oh my God.

Alisa: propel shampoo.

Lauren: I think that’s what, maybe it means hair fall out.

Aileen: Yes. I think you’re right.

Alisa: Um, playing light as a feather stiff as a board.

Aileen: Oh,

Lauren: She has,

Aileen: we do. we do.

Alisa: we do.

boards are in

Lauren: one of you write this book because I

Alisa: It is they, um, they talk about, um, one of the classes a girl was taking German and her assignment in class was translating 99 lift balloons and,

Lauren: Oh, my God.

Alisa: [00:30:00] um, making mixed tapes by having a double cassette boombox was the only way that you could do it

Josie: You had to have the double

Alisa: either

that, or you had to record right off the


How are cassettes back?

Lauren: know. I wish I still had mine.

Aileen: Like records made a comeback. Cause the sound is actually a better quality than what we like the digitally compressed music we listen to, but cassettes.

Alisa: yeah,

Josie: just garbage.

Alisa: totally.

Lauren: They’re pain in the ass.

Aileen: That was like lipstick on the music pig.

Lauren: Yeah. But They were romantic.

Aileen: need monitorization. Okay. Cassettes.

Alisa: and there was something about giving a mixtape to someone


Lauren: Yeah. Especially you put some time into that and


Aileen: alyssa. So your story it’s about bad news bears, field hockey.

Alisa: So Mel, Boucher, who is the goalie, she gets fed up and,


Aileen: Alyssa, Mike,

Josie: so fast.

Aileen: you gotta figure out how to keep it up. Alyssa, use your hands,

hold it at the base.

Lauren: Yeah. Duct tape fixes everything.

Alisa: [00:31:00] tape.

Josie: Uh, Lauren’s not following the metaphor.

Lauren: I am. I’m just being practical. I’m a practical new England there. Where’s your duct

Alisa: right.

Josie: The only place you can’t use Dante. Holy Lord. Okay. Sorry, Alyssa.

Alisa: So Mel goes to her Emilio notebook and she basically writes a spell and she takes some peace. She had some like sweaty athletic sock and she tore it into

Lauren: We’re going to say something else.

Alisa: and tied a piece of it around her arm. And it was like this, you know, article that was going to carry the spell so that she could, I don’t know, do, do better, be bigger.

Maybe they could win. her room, whoever her roommate was, um, convinced the roommate to like sign her name to this book and also wear one of these little armbands. And so

the next time they played a scrimmage or whatever, Mel had [00:32:00] like the record of the entire history of the camp for number of saves in a single game.

And They They tied, they didn’t lose. They tied. And it was the first time that ever anything had happened like this. And so the other girls were like, oh my gosh, what got into you? And so they all end up signing their name to this notebook and they end up winning the, whatever playoff was at this summer camp.

So then they go back to school and they’re like, we’re going all the way. We’re going to go to the playoffs. You know, Wooster, here we come. You know? So all of the places that they’re talking about, the schools, the fields, the teams, everything is, I mean, it’s everything we did. Not that we ever made it anywhere, remotely close to Worcester.

Like they’re talking about playoffs in November. Like field hockey lasted that long for us. It always like it was over

 Um, so the book is the slow March through the season and the games that they played in them [00:33:00] realizing, okay, what is it that sparked all of the success? Oh, it was our commitment to Emilio and our, um, armbands. And they, they had this telepathic ability that, that kept getting stronger and stronger where, you know, parts of the book were conversations of them as a team talking without any words actually coming out of their mouth.

And so they would, they would just be understanding each other. And this, it was this connection. And then the big hair piece, one of the girls on the team, her name was Jen, but because this was 1989, she had big hair, but it was her bangs that she, they called it the claw because it was shellacked straight up with the curl over the top.

And so the claw became part of the narrative where it would like take in what was happening and then give opinions about things. And so one [00:34:00] example,

Aileen: wait, hang on a second. Like her hair is actually a narrator in this


Alisa: So for example, this is in the chapter of Dan verse verse Lynn classical. So we dropped all her stuff off on the visiting team side of the field. It was a great day, low seventies, lots of sun, as we circled up to stretch out Jen’s class. What the scene like a Periscope, noting which players looked good, which could possibly be weak links. This is going to be our toughest game yet reported the claw for the rest of the time. It’s sat it capital. It it’s its own proper noun. It sat a top her head like a field marshal surveying its troops. Um, so every once in a while, like the clock chimes in with a narrative of what’s


Lauren: kind of want to be like friends with the author.

Alisa: Oh, it, she is completely us when I was reading this, everything about it. I was like, I’m back in high school. And then, because we graduated in 93, [00:35:00] these were all of the girls who were like, when we were just starting out and we were on JV.

Josie: These are the girls. We looked

Alisa: Yeah. These were the girls. We were slightly afraid of.

Aileen: Wait until, so Alyssa, the story, the book follows the story of this team, kind of from beginning to end of the

Alisa: Yes. And each chapter is a different is the name of a different game. Um, Dan verse for Salem Danvers, first marble

Lauren: God. I love

Alisa: Um, and then

so there’s 11 characters, right? There’s every girl on the team is an important character and I

plus it, the hair, the cloth. so the beginning, I had a hard time keeping track of everyone.

eventually because it’s, so everybody is in every scene. Um, you get to know them and, and their quirks and what they bring to the team. Um, but then each chapter, even though it’s titled the name of the town, they’re going to play the [00:36:00] actual game. Isn’t really what the chapter’s about. One of the characters is more deeply profiled and talked about, or, you know, the day of the game or the week of the game is seen through that particular characters eyes so that you get to know these people a little bit more and what their relationship with each other is.

and then, oh, so for David, when I would be cheering him on for basketball games and like, I just want him to have confidence to go out there. I would say,

you know, various words of encouragement, but then I forget at what point I was like, come on, David, you can do this balls to the wall. And he looked at me and was like, please don’t ever say that again. And I was like, what? You’ve never, that’s a thing you’ve never heard that. And TIFF was horrified. He’s like, why would you say such a thing to our son? You know?

Aileen: You should hear how she talks about a microphone.

Alisa: So [00:37:00] I would like to read a short passage of Marge, the coach, talking to the girls to get them psyched up for one of the last playoff games. Um, they’re in it’s November deep, November, and they are outside and it is starting to rain and it is icy and cold.

And the girls are like, why aren’t we inside? And they realized like Marge is in this to win it. And so they’re running. Um, I hate that they’re called suicides on the

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: I changed

Alisa: th they?

have to have changed it.

Aileen: cause yeah,

Alisa: you, like, you run up to the 25 and then you run back. Then you run to the 50 and back in 75 and back in hundred and back.

Okay. Ladies, we in for one last set said, Marge, nobody moved. This is it. She offered for all the marbles, no jogging, no easing off the throttle. Give me everything you got balls to the wall.

Aileen: David.[00:38:00]

Alisa: So then I immediately went and showed everybody in my house. It was like, it is a thing.

Josie: It’s a Massachusetts thing.

Alisa: I don’t know. I clearly I heard it from somewhere. I

Aileen: I’ve heard it before too. I feel like it’s.

Alisa: yeah. Okay. All right.

Aileen: your family’s just uncultured.

Alisa: So

Aileen: I have never actually gone balls to the wall, so they

Josie: Yeah. Maybe they just never been in that situation before.

Alisa: So The girls really embrace this idea of some kind of power that their vow to Emilio represents. And the piece of cloth that’s tied around all their arms and they get in the habit of the night before a game going to some big clearing and they have a bonfire. They all get naked and dance, which seems a little weird to me, Um, but th this just became part of the ritual.

Josie: That’s Friday night in [00:39:00] Hollywood. Like.

Alisa: Um, and then towards the end, they had this kind of realization where, what we were still learning. Emilio didn’t need momentos. He didn’t need shadow books and spells in juvenile delinquency. He just needed us to be our true and fully wondrous selves. And so it’s like you realize this it’s all kind of a placebo effect. it’s not real, like there’s no actual spell that is creating some type of magical power.

And there’s a piece at the very end of the book where. One of the girls tests it, test this power to be able to say, see, I don’t, I’m, I’m going to do this under my own power because I don’t want to be under, Emilio’s spell the whole rest of my life and not know that I’m doing it because I want to do it.

so the [00:40:00] last piece of this that I’ll find that I find really interesting about the way the book was written is they never talk about the final game. They go into the pep rally, they go into the, like the last week leading up to it and all of the excitement and the preparations and the shenanigans that the girls pull.

and they never have a chapter on the final game. And then the last chapter I, so he, I was totally confused. I did not read it first. I read this book in order.

Aileen: Alyssa.


Lauren: For some reason, this book didn’t give you any anxiety. You were like, I’m going to re.

Aileen: ’cause you know, either someone wins or someone

Alisa: Right. Well that, and it was so fun because it was us as we were, as I was, I mean, it was us with the big hair and the, you know, fried ice cream and mix tapes. So then cut to the final chapter is 30 years later, they are 46 and 47 years old.

Josie: no

Alisa: It is us

Aileen: Three weeks away from

that [00:41:00]

two weeks actually.

Alisa: they are all re gathering back in Danvers for, um, Mel’s wedding to the guy that she has been with since high school, which is, was, uh, like that’s sort of a plot twist in the book.


Aileen: don’t ruin it for

Alisa: I won’t, um, she finally is going to be marrying him and pulled together this wedding. With three weeks and everyone was coming back together. So the last chapter is you meet back with the characters who still live there because several of the women now have children of their own, who are playing on the hockey team.

and then you find out like what they’re doing and who’s the doctor and who’s the famous TV star. And, um, who’s a meteorologist who started their own organic juice company. Um, and, and they have this final chapter where they all get together and they go out to a bonfire and [00:42:00] I think they get somewhat naked if not fully naked again.

And they kind of are dancing around and oh, no, they definitely get naked. I’m remembering a specific part, which I also don’t want to say because it then gives away another plot twist about a

character. yeah, it was super fun. Yeah,

Aileen: this a, is this a book

Alisa: it definitely is a why a book, um, because.

Lauren: I kind of reminds me of the sisterhood of the traveling pants sorta

like that.

Alisa: Yeah.

That’s fair. it was, it just sort of leaves you with a happy feeling, especially because us being the age. I mean, this, I just can’t say it enough. It’s us. It was us in high school and then it ends

Josie: I know. I think we’re all going to read it. Yeah.

Lauren: Yeah. It reminds me of like, I mean the name of the book and everything, even just being Dan risk, so close to Salem, signing the book of Emilio is like signing the book of a devil, like to tuba and all

Alisa: Well, and so they they’re doing the crucible at the school as the fall play. And one of the characters, one of the field hockey players is [00:43:00] playing Tituba in the play. Um, and so there’s all of this and they recognize like, Hey, there could be some Witchery going on and they. Do some research into what some of the witch rituals are and what different spells they can do.

And like the girls go off and they’re writing spells to, to make things happen and then things do happen, but it’s like, you know, some of the spells.

Josie: of it is just like we put that energy out there and It’s going to happen.

Yeah. Yeah. Manifesting that’s it, Lauren. Yeah. Yeah, Yeah.

Alisa: So it was fun. I recommend it.

Josie: I’m totally going to read it. That sounds awesome.

Alisa: It was fun.

Aileen: All right. So Josie, your book, I think is very different.

Josie: Yeah. it was the secret history by Donna Tartt. It’s a fantastic book. It really is just so well-written, I’d say it’s like a Massachusetts great Gatsby and the main character. His name is Richard. he’s from Plano, [00:44:00] California. He’s from a very ugly town. Like he talks about it a lot. He talks a lot about, his name is Richard , he’s writing it.

It’s first person past tense. And the book starts off. Does such a thing as the fatal flaw that showy dark crack running down the middle of life exists outside of literature. I used to think it didn’t now. I think it does. The book is about a murder. This group of friends in college at Hampton college. Um, they are class assist majors, which means they studied Greek philosophy, Greek literature, all in the original language.

And, um, it’s a very erudite form of study. There are only 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6 kids in the class, and then Richard joins them he’s like so thrilled to finally get into this class. It’s amazing. He comes from plateau, which is, let me just tell you a little bit about where he’s from the word conjures up.

Drive-ins tract homes, waves of heat rising from the blacktop. So he ha he comes from this really [00:45:00] unlovely place and he sort of classifies himself as a person who loves. That’s very much in common with aliens book. So he’s makes up this history for himself. He’s going to completely reinvent himself, going to Hampton college.

Um, so the dazzle of this fictive childhood full of swimming pools and orange groves and dissolute, charming showbiz parents has all been eclipsed, the drab original. So his childhood was kind of this unlovely horrible. His parents were gas station owners. It’s got this. And actually just today, when we were driving back from the Sierras, we went through one of these towns like that.

It’s just everything. It’s not poverty. It’s just, unlovely, it’s like scrub land,

Aileen: There are places that aren’t destinations. It’s like what you pass through on your way to somewhere else kind of

Josie: It’s like a giant strip mall and there’s, it’s all, Chick-Filet this.

And you know what I mean? It’s and this guy He kind of feels like since he understands the [00:46:00] importance of beauty, that he deserves better, that he’s slightly better than other people. And that is such a new England way of thinking. It’s sort of like, I under, I appreciate. Literature, therefore, I’m better than you.

I appreciate things that are beautiful. Therefore I’m better than you, but it’s like everybody appreciates beauty. It’s just not that many people can afford it. So Richard sort of makes up this history for himself and he pretends to be this, this person from this Hollywood family rich. And he’s not, he’s like middle-class, he falls in with this group of people.

These classes, this majors who are all a bunch of stops, like every single one of them is snobby and they’re elitist and they’re not very likable people. Like all of them, he writes about them. Richard writes about them, thinks about them with so much romance around them, but they’re really just a bunch of selfish snaps.

And they are not very good to each other either. And one of them, he says it right in the beginning when they murder [00:47:00] one of their numbers. This group of Greek students. Tries to reproduce, uh, an ancient ritual. I’m not going to tell you too much about it.

They succeed in, in the process of reproducing this ancient ritual, which takes a lot of study and a lot of sacrifice on their part. Something horrible happens. And bunny, the name of this guy. His real name is Edmond.

Everybody calls him bunny. He finds out what they did. Like he knows what they did. He was supposed to be there with them, but he couldn’t do the fasting and the staying up all night. Um, And then he blackmails slash tortures them all with it to the point where even when I was reading, I mean, guys, this goes on for like 800

pages, even to the point where I was like, You got to fucking kill that guy. Like just kill him. Bunny has to die. It’s not that he does. He really doesn’t. He doesn’t deserve to die.

I’m not saying that he’s irrational. He threatens all of them. He’s the kind of guy, not only is he racist, homophobic and a massage monistic and classist. And it just like everything [00:48:00] that I don’t like about people on top of that, he’s this bully. Like he figures out what it is that you’re most insecure about that frightens you the most, the thing that you’re not comfortable within yourself and he frigging tortures you with it.

And he does this to everyone, like on a daily

basis. He’s always,

Alisa: What’s the mood of the, like, I guess maybe what

perspective is the,

Josie: Uh, perspective is Richard it’s from his perspective. So he wasn’t there. He’s not the one who did the terrible thing during the ritual, but he is there when they killed bunny. Although he’s not the one who actually kills him, he’s this outsider very much like with great Gatsby, you have this made up self and you have this other person who is sort of looking in on this society that he doesn’t feel like he’s quite a part of.

And that’s Richard, he doesn’t, he’s not rich. Like they are, he doesn’t come from these old families. He found Hampton college in a brochure and he fell in love with the look of it. And he, he goes there, even though he can’t afford it, his parents don’t support him. He wants to be there. He’s pretending to be something he isn’t, it’s [00:49:00] just like great Gatsby.

Even she, even Donald Target’s very smart. Um,

his favorite book is great Gatsby and that, that comes out in like the third chapter. And I was like, oh, okay. So this is a

Aileen: is he a likable character? Are you rooting for him

Josie: Occasionally the reason why you do like him is because of. It’s very cold in new England and he gets this job.

He doesn’t want to go home for Christmas break and you find out later his father’s abusive. And so there are reasons that you’re rooting for them. You don’t want them to have to go home either. But the only thing he ever talks about is that he doesn’t want to go home because it’s just so ugly and horrible there, you know?

that makes him seem really superficial. But anyway, he doesn’t want to go home. So he’s freezing his ass off in this loft where there’s no heat and there’s a hole in the ceiling and he gets pneumonia. And I had this one really cold winter in New York. I had a jacket. It was, but it wasn’t warm enough for New York.

I didn’t have enough money to get a new jacket. You know what I mean? And I got pneumonia. And so when I was reading this, I was like, I’ve been there. I’ve I think it was even like, it was my sophomore year and it was his junior year. So I was [00:50:00] like, I really identified with this guy and I understood why he was doing so much.

it’s not that you do sympathize with the characters to a certain extent, and you sympathize with Richard to a certain extent, but this whole book is like a referendum on this, these type of elite people or people who consider themselves to be elite. So elite that they’re above the law. Like if, how can I be tried for a crime by, uh, my peers, when people in Vermont like Joe Schmoe at the gas station is not my peer.

Like, there’s no way I could explain what we were doing for this ritual. So therefore we have to hide it. We have to hide what we did and we’ve got to kill bunny. And it’s sort of like, right, like, cause Bonnie figured money figures it out and you, you want them to kill him too. So you’re sort of a part of this, you’re sort of part of their guilt, but it’s like. I don’t like bunny and you sorta sit there, have to, you have to like question your own morals while you’re reading

it. So it’s, you know, just because he is [00:51:00] not a great person doesn’t mean he deserves to die and you sort of have this in the forefront of your head. And Richard even brings it up. The narrator brings it up several times, like, just talking about how, you know, just because bunny tortured all of them and he loaded the Tim.

Sometimes he also loved him because he was just a person. And there were times when he was great. And just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean that they deserve to die. And I agree with that, but it’s very hard to believe that in the middle of a story, when you’re like that guy’s got to go, I just don’t like him.

 So the body is missing for a long time because there’s snow in April, which there shouldn’t be, and nobody can find the body.

So then it becomes a missing persons case and somebody says he was kidnapped and then it becomes an FBI case. And it’s just this slow moving to like torture us. It’s like, it’s like water torture. It’s like drip, drip, drip, and the, all the characters start to come apart at the seams. And they, they, they, you know, from the beginning that they get away with it because Richard obviously isn’t in jail when he’s writing [00:52:00] this, he says I’m 28.

And this is what I did when I was in college. And it’s sort of like, and he says it right in the first chapter we killed bunny. So you know that this is going to happen and it doesn’t happen until 800 pages in.

Aileen: so Josie, did you like, was it a compelling page Turner for you or did it feel like it dragged.

Josie: No, it doesn’t feel like it drags. I wouldn’t say It’s a compelling page Turner either. It’s not. one of those things where I was like, I have to know what happens next. It’s not that it’s, that it’s so honestly written even the situations where you’re, where you don’t like the people involved it’s so honestly written that you find yourself willingly reading.

Does that make any sense?

Aileen: what do you mean by honestly written.

Josie: Uh, the, uh, there’s like an emotional truth in every single scene.


but it’s, you know, this book was, it was beautiful, but it was also hard to read in a lot of ways, because on the one hand you’re sitting there going, I, I want the person who they murdered to die, but I don’t want them to get caught. But at the same time they don’t have any right to [00:53:00] get away with it.

Does that make any sense? It’s sort of like, it’s like this zero sum in a moral sense. Like, I didn’t feel. Outraged. I didn’t feel like, Oh,

this is what needs to happen. It was just basically watching the dissolution of their characters, which was very interesting. And so honestly written. And so this dialogue, I just there’s this one character in it, Judy Poovey, so she’s not in their group.

Anyway. So this is Judy talking.

Aileen: um,

Josie: You know what it was they found in his room.

It was like this mirror that belonged to Laura Stora. I bet everybody in Durbin stall has done Coke off that thing. Really old with little grooves carved in the side, Jack t-tell BOM used to call it the snow queen, because you could always scrape up a line or two, if you were desperate or something. And sure, I guess it’s technically her mirror, but really it’s kind of public property.

And she said she hadn’t even seen it in about a million years. Somebody took it from a living room and one of the new houses in March Bram Guernsey said that cloak said that it wasn’t in Bunny’s room when he was there before. And then the feds had planned. [00:54:00] But then Bram said that cloak thought the whole thing was some kind of setup, a frame like in mission, impossible, he met, or one of those paranoia books by kit Philip K Dick.

He told Bram, he thought the Phoebe’s had a Phoebe’s. The feds had a hidden camera planted somewhere in Durbin stall. All this wild stuff brand says it’s because cloak is afraid to go to sleep and been up on crystal meth for 48 hours. He sits around in his room with the doors locked and does lines and listens to this song by Buffalo Springfield over and over.

You know, that one something’s happening here. Well,

it is an ant. Exactly clear. It’s weird. People get upset. All of a sudden they want to listen to old hippie garbage. They would never listen to if they were in their right mind. When my cat died, I had to go out and borrow all these Simon and Garfunkel records.

Anyway, she lit a cigarette. How did I get off on this? Right. Laura’s freaking out. Somehow they trace the mirror to her and she’s already on probation, you know, had to do all this community service last fall because flipper leach got in trouble and ratted on Laura and Jack Tito bump. Oh, you remember all that stuff?

Don’t you? Holy. [00:55:00] Like the best dialogue I’ve read. Like I could literally hear Judy Poovey Baba, the Coke, the mirror that this, that, that the feds light a cigarette. Where was I going with this? And then like, it’s like brilliant dialogue in this. You guys just, and so she writes these characters also, Judy Poovey, she’d give you anything.

You need Cokes, she’s got it in her room. He needed painkillers. Got it. Or you need a kidney, you can have mine. Like, she’s that kind of person. And he looks down on her through the whole thing. And then at the end, he sort of realizes, and Judy poofy Is like a really good person and I’m not, and it’s, it’s this really subtle well-built it is slow moving, but it’s not a slow book.

Alisa: it a psychological thriller or is it a murder

Josie: know, not a mystery at all. It’s just a story. And it’s sort of the only tension that comes into it is a, so bunny dies somewhere between 900 and 949. I’m not quite sure. Cause my page count was off.

Alisa: This [00:56:00] is worse than Stephen King.

Aileen: So never take book recommendations from me. You guys,

unless you have like three

years to read

Josie: it it’s, uh, it’s a really well-written book and it’s super long without feeling long.

Lauren: I can’t imagine the process. The author went through

Josie: just brilliantly

Lauren: mean, she really had to

Aileen: it takes, it takes her 10 years to write a book like she’s really into this was her first book. She wrote it when she was 29 and then her next book came up 10 years later. She’s only written three books in her

Lauren: Um,

Josie: And there’s that much care and attention to detail, like every single scene, every single exchange, even Judy, Poovey going off saying like, I’ll never do crystal meth again, obviously she’s on crystal meth. You know what I mean? it’s just every single moment of it is so well thought out. And so honestly, given to the reader, like there’s, she’s not trying to impress you.

She’s not trying to wow. You with some huge metaphor, she’s really trying to give you exactly what it feels like. Moment to moment going through all of this stuff

Aileen: do you [00:57:00] think it’s a book that needed to be set in new England? Would it work in another.

Josie: no, this is new England. It’s definitely like the only other place that I could think of it working would be like in London. And one of those, like aren’t like those boy prep school enclaves, or

Aileen: Still

Lauren: or maybe New York,

York, upstate New York, some, some places there.

Josie: I think alien, your yours and my book had so much in common. It was sort of like talking about these people who think they’re, so well-educated that they’re better than other people and morally they’re they’re not

they’re just not better than other people. They just went about it in totally different ways.

Aileen: Yeah. Nobody got killed in mine. I don’t think. Nope. Nobody died.

Lauren: struggling to understand what I


Aileen: remember. Maybe I

Alisa: one died.

Josie: I don’t know. There might be, there might be vast swaths of this book that I didn’t understand that went right over my head. Like I caught a few of the layers to it, especially like I know a little bit about Greek mythology. So I was able to be like, oh, I know where they’re headed with this. And I’m not going to give any of [00:58:00] the, what they, that ritual that they did.

I’m not going to give any of

Alisa: Yeah, but will you tell us off camera so that I know.

Aileen: Oh, all right. We’re all yawning. I think that’s a

Josie: I know, I know it’s time for us to go.

Aileen: late here on the east


Alisa: Sadly.

Josie: We all need to get to Judy POV’s room for a little hit or something, or we need to go to bed.

Aileen: We think pills.

Josie: Okay. You guys thank you. so much.

Lauren: thank you. That was

Josie: Yeah, that was the alien alien you look like

so days

Aileen: and about

Lauren: still recovering from the birthday party.

Aileen: I might be recovered by his sixth birthday,

Alisa: Yeah, just in time.

Josie: Okay. Goodnight. You

Aileen: right,

ladies, we’ll talk to you later.

Josie: Bye.

Josie: You’ve been listening to fiction between friends to find the show notes for this episode, or to subscribe and get new episodes delivered automatically. Visit fiction between friends.com. Also, if you happen to have a moment and you’ve liked what you’ve heard, please help support our podcast by leaving a review on apple podcasts.

We [00:59:00] would be immensely grateful. Thank you for listening.

5 comments on “S2 E6: Books set in New England (our hometown)

  1. SHAUNA says:

    A week late listening to this episode but worth the wait 🙂 makes my Monday back from vacation bearable! Interesting choices today! I haven’t heard of any of them so some things to check out! I did read White Teeth but wasn’t really a fan. Loved listening to the talk about LA. I am a former So Cal girl myself and finally left to Colorado about 14 years ago. I went to high school and college in the LA area and was very happy to leave!

    1. Josie says:

      Hi Shauna!
      Yes, LA is a lot to handle. We are also considering a move. It’s been amazing to live here for the past twenty some-odd years, but it isn’t the same when you’re trying to raise a family. Interestingly enough Colorado was on our list as possible places to move to, but we still haven’t made a decision yet. We’ll see! 🙂

      1. Shauna says:

        We love Colorado! We live in northern Colorado, in Loveland. It is growing so fast!

      2. Aileen says:

        New Jersey. New Jersey. New Jersey. They just named a rest stop after Judy Blume. Clearly that means you should move here. It is a sign, after all…

        1. Josie says:

          Clearly! LOL

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