Recommended Reading: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

If you love Arrested Development, you’ll love this book. And there’s no way it won’t be made into a movie in a hot minute.

Maria Semple wrote for (perhaps still writes for?) AD, and her hilarious send-up of Seattle upper-middle-class culture both makes me want to move there and also makes me feel better that I don’t live there already.

I’d like to tip my hat to my friend Katie, who mentioned a few weeks ago that she was reading a book she took out from the library, at which I thought: “Hey! The library! Not just for Elmo videos!”

So, the next time we went in for Elmo videos, which are next to the new (read: 2012 and forward) releases, I picked the book with the great title and decided to run with it.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is nearly epistolary, with occasional interpolations by the narrator, Bernadette’s daughter, Bee, and that alone makes my heart sing. I love a good epistolary novel. The Coquette, one of the earliest American novels (1797, if my first year in grad school serves me well), is a great read, and if you haven’t read Griffin and Sabine, go immediately to your nearest bookseller and take it home with you.

Anyway. I don’t want to give away the plot, as usual, because, as the title indicates, it’s also something of a detective novel. Positively delightful, fast-paced, witty, and with enough talk about Antarctica that I heartily recommend it for the beach this summer.

“in signs / We would smooth out like imprints on a bed”

This week I found myself unprepared with a new poem to memorize, so I turned to The Poetry Foundation’s website for a fresh read. I found there a profile of Gjertrud Schnackenberg, and I loved the few poems available on the site to read.  I chose “Signs” to memorize (length, always length, alas). It’s sharp, unexpected, and fast — wheeling from palm-reading to a formation of geese to an airplane crash to a “housefly’s panicked scribbling on the air” without time for the reader to catch a breath.

“Signs” appeared in the June 1974 issue of Poetry.