Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Boots and Cake Forks

In my career as a reader, I have sampled many different genres and types of fiction. Charles Bukowski's gin-soaked poetry, Cormac McCarthy's bloody westerns, and Richard Brautigan's deceptively simple stories have been my favorites. However, I have never ventured into the (usually pink) books labeled "chick lit," until I stumbled upon Rosie Little. I suspect, though, that Ms. Little is a character a bit more to my taste than the personality known as "Shopaholic," for she is a quirky, bookish young career woman who presides, along with her keen wit, over Danielle Wood's collection of short stories entitled "Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls." Also, I suspect that perhaps "chick lit" is not an apt classification for this delightful book, since (I think, though I'm not entirely sure) it would imply that Wood's stories are the sort of fluff intended to pass the time for those logging tedious hours working on their tans.

All of the "cautionary tales" in this book are not about Rosie Little herself, though she moderates them, occasionally interjecting a "word from Rosie Little" which is sure to be an intelligent and intuitive musing on some aspect of what it means to be a gutsy, smart young woman of the type to get a Brazilian bikini wax or board a plane dressed in full bridal regalia. Rosie Little is a spunky version of Little Red Riding Hood for 2007, if Little Red Riding Hood had constantly harped on the importance of nominitave determinism, the overuse of the word "eclectic," or spouted off the Latin translation of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" while dodging not just one wolf but many assorted dangerous and dicey situations involving someone or something not to be trusted. She is full of good advice not intended for "good and well-behaved girls who always stick to the path when they go to Grandma's." "Know when to use the cake fork" is my favorite bit of wisdom from Rosie, who does a much better job than I ever could of explaining it.

Every female over the driving age (Rosie is deliciously risquet at times) will identify with some aspect of the character of Rosie Little on a deep level. For example, a courageous, sixteen year old Rosie ventures abroad alone at which time she purchases a pair of knee-high, cherry red Doc Martens which stay with her through the rest of the book, her allies through thick and thin. Every woman has a favorite accessory or article of clothing which stand to her as a symbol of power and comfort, if only due to mere familiarity. Rosie Little's red boots remind me of my own battered black Doc Martens, which have been with me for eight years through countless good and bad experiences and are doubtless "boots as stout as [my own] heart." Danielle Wood's "Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls" is a book which will undoubtedly stay with me just as long as my ten eyelet jump boots have.

Wood, Daniel. Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls. MacAdam Cage, San Francisco, 2007.

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