Literacy and Longing in L.A. – Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack


Dora, named after Eudora Welty, is an indiscriminate book junkie whose life has fallen apart — her career, her marriage, and finally her self-esteem. All she has left is her love of literature, and the book benders she relied on as a child. Ever since her larger-than-life father wandered away and her book-loving, alcoholic mother was left with two young daughters, Dora and her sister, Virginia, have clung to each other, enduring a childhood filled with literary pilgrimages instead of summer vacations. Somewhere along the way Virginia made the leap into the real world. But Dora isn’t quite there yet. Now she’s coping with a painful separation from her husband, scraping the bottom of a dwindling inheritance, and attracted to a seductive book-seller who seems to embody all that literature has to offer –intelligent ideas, romance, and an escape from her problems.

Dear Bookies, bookworms, book geeks, book nerds, bibliophiles – you know who you are. This book is for you.

I was dangerously close to returning this book to the library unread. It was overdue and I couldn’t renew it because someone else had a hold on it. With a fine piling up, and 10 more good books staring at me from my nightstand, I almost missed out. But then I decided I’d give it the ol’ first page trial. The first sentence was good enough to hook me, “When I was seven, my mother drove the family car off a thirty foot bridge.” OK, good enough, I’m in(and no one died in the crash, this is not a tragedy). It was in fact a great little book, and guess what? It’s about us, all of us severe book junkies, this is our life. Well, maybe with or without all of Dora’s drama, but the book part is spot on! Listen to this –

“One thing I’m glad about is that I’m never bored and I never mind waiting – anywhere. Unless, of course I forgot my book in which case I just run off and buy another one. I read at the DMW, in movie lines, in bank teller lines…Layovers in unfamiliar airports are a treat…”

Uh huh. See, told ya, and the fun just continues. Each chapter starts with a literary quote regarding reading:

“I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library” – Jorge Luis Borges

“I divide all readers into two classes; Those who read to remember and those who read to forget.” – William Lyon Phelps

“Classic. A book which people praise and don’t read.” – Mark Twain

The book is peppered with tons of literary references and mentions of books that you will know or recognize. You’ll add a couple to your TBR list and then some. Besides the fact that its a big validating love fest for all serious readers, its actually quite a good book. Well written, sharp, intellectual, and funny – you will fall in love with Dora and root for her from start to finish, and how can you not – she’s dating a guy that works in her local indie bookstores for chrissakes! Sold yet? OK, try this on for size:

“ matter whats going on in my life, I will always need a book. Nevertheless, after all thats happened to me this past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, reading is not purely an escape. It’s more of a search for some kind of meaning in the world. Now, when I read, I think I might open a page and find the truth, I just can’t stand the fog of not knowing….I don’t know, the answers are there. Somewhere. each author has their own vision, whether it be transforming, un-nerving, inspiring, or devastating. It’s comforting in a pathetic sort of way and I have wallowed in this comfort for most of my life.”

Put it on your Christmas list, make sure it gets bought, then at some point on Christmas day when the kids are busy with their new toys,and the hubbies are watching games and the in-laws are snoozing, sneak off to a nice cozy quiet spot, and start reading. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed and I would bet that most of you would finish before the end of the day.

and hey,

don’t forget to come back and thank me.

Go here for more info on the book and a cool little you tube video.



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3 Responses to “Literacy and Longing in L.A. – Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack”

  1. Great review – I’ve been eyeballing that book for a long time. I will definitely have to pick it up. I am right in the middle of Atonement and will be writing a review soon. If the second half of the book is anything like the first, then it will be one glowing review!

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I’m not a big chick lit reader, but read this one last year sometime after reading about it on Dabbling Dilettante’s blog.

  3. Thanks for posting about this one. I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy and after reading your review I reserved it from the library. Can’t wait to read it!

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