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Thursday, June 28, 2007

More Guilty Pleasures

Okay, this isn't food, it's a book: There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell by Laurie Notaro. This was listed in the new books at our library a few weeks ago, and I put it on hold. I picked it up yesterday, and I'm almost half way through it. As soon as she started describing Spaulding, WA, I thought it reminded me almost exactly of Eugene, OR. Former industry town, turned college town, filled with relics of the 60s and hippie dippy craziness. Except Eugene has more druggies, meth houses, pot growing, does have pr*stitutes on street corners and has the kind of crimes you'd associate with a college town. This Spaulding place even had a city festival and a non-sex discriminating farcical beauty pageant, just like the Eugene Celebration and the Slug Queen. There are vegetarian clubs and restaurants, fights involving blocks of soy cheese, composting methods and whether beets or sweet potatoes ought to be the vegetable of the month. There's even this kind of horror about Republicans and people who don't recycle properly (remind me to tell the story of the first Thanksgiving we hosted in this town, my mother, and the can). Turns out the author lives in Eugene. But the book isn't based on Eugene. No, ma'am it's not. Any similarities are purely coincidental.

Anyway, the humor is crass, there is lots of vulgarity, it is highly irreverent, and it's definitely not something you'd want your kids to read, but it is hilarious. Especially if you grew up in Eugene, where it's been the 60s since the 50s, and where if you want to rebell you need to take a shower, get a job and vote Republican. After this weekend's trip down to Eugene, where it is still exactly the same as it was when I grew up there, and just like this book, only with some more seedy things and characters, the free kittens being offered on the street outside of Sundance, and all the other strangeness which only looks strange to me because it hasn't been my hometown for over 10 years, this book kept me up laughing, literally out loud. And Rich, who was trying to sleep.

One of the reviewers said she found the town unbelievable. She clearly has never been to Eugene. It is one of the only, if not the only city in America where you can be nuts and homeless, still have a black market job, make more money than the average blue collar wage earner, only you have more expendable money, because you are living on your friend's couch and don't have rent or a mortgage to pay for, and insist on and get your free trade, organic coffee, herbal tisanes, goat's milk keffir, and locally made tempeh products, while selling your book on the street and joining every support group and political conspiracy troop known to mankind, all while wearing your natural hemp clothing that you bought from that nice lady giving away the puppies at the Saturday Market after the peace rally where you broke all the glass windows in city hall and spray painted graffitti on the building and sidewalks, while being escorted by a police unit and then went inside to collect your unemployment and welfare checks.

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Your comments on Eugene are so hilarious and true. I have not been back there in years and I wonder what I would think of it now! Will have to have someone in the family keep an eye out for the book, maybe I will request it for my birthday. Thanks for the laugh and the memories!
Wow, that sounds just like Santa Cruz! We lived there for about four years and it really got to be too much. Every once and awhile we go back to visit and my husband and I remark frequently to each other as we see the various oddities - "ah, Santa Cruz..."
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