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I Guess I Was Ready

Remember* this entire recitative about the Gift of Magic cover I could never find, no matter how often I scoured used book tables on Sixth Avenue, so much so that I actually thought it was possible I was going crazy?

My best friend had it in her room the entire past year, having no knowledge of my search, meaning to give it to me.

A Gift of Magic

BEHOLD the true cover of A Gift of Magic! Which Lois actually HAD NEVER SEEN! Which was a psychic bond between me and my BFF! And which is being reissued, incidentally, imminently!

* you obviously completely do not have to remember

I Know What You Did Last Issue

I am in the most recent Bookforum, writing on the wonderful world of Lois Duncan reissues. Killing Mr. Griffin — yes — makes an appearance. It looks like you can get a free issue, um, here? I have enormous issues with the covers — there is a NOOSE on the cover of Killing Mr. Griffin, which obvi makes no sense — but the updates ARE FASCINATING. (Cell phones! Crystal necklaces!)

If you have any great scans of Duncan covers, send and we’ll post. First to comment gets free copies of all the reissues in my possession!

November 20th, 2010 at 6:44 pm

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Just FYI… @Judy Blume #tigereyesmovie

They have cast the movie version of Tiger Eyes and are filming!

Still wondering about how they’ll handle cell phone thing.

Also, I met with Judy and we had a wonderful interview earlier this year. I’ll be posting it soon.

October 17th, 2010 at 11:14 am

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Instant solvation, Tuesday edition #plotfinder #finelines #shelfdiscovery

The requests are coming thick and fast, all with HELP! I feel so guilty! Please help these people!

Remember, if you have a plotfinder, you can friend me on FB, where the solvation is more rapido.

From Lori:

perhaps not your typical young adult novel??? historical novel set in ancient Eygpt, in the reign of Queen Hatshepset, the main character is one of the Queen’s slaves. I recall that grave-robbing is a crime you will get killed for, and there’s something about a young nobleman who the main character falls in love with, who, of course, may or may not be involved in graverobbing, and she actually gets enlisted to help with graverobbing. There perhaps is a young boy who is a fellow slave or her brother. I remember this book mostly for the descriptions of diaphonous cotton or linen clothing ….

From Megan B.:

A young woman and her family move into (rent?) an old hous for the summer and don’t really know anyone (kids are bored). I feel like there is a younger sister involved too. On a night with no power, they decide to have a seance for fun and try “Automatic Writing,” wherein the girl is hypnotized and given paper and pen to write whatever message the communicating spirit decides to share. Some kind of scary mystery ensues. It may involve a grandmother or previous owners of the house and mysterious death of a child (who wears a white dress?). I feel like there’s a climactic scene where an injured person is driven to the hospital in an old car, and I’m sure there’s a cute boy thrown in the mix too. Can anyone help, it’s been plaguing me for years?!! Automatic Writing is the key here, it’s the one thing from the book that I remember vividly. I wrote a book report on this as a kid and I’d really like to find it again!

From Leanne T.L.:

I am racking my brain trying to remember this series. A couple of books stand out-one was the kids swapping places with school staff for a day. The kids working in the cafeteria had trouble making enough cole slaw to feed all the students. Another book had the kids swapping families. There were several main characters, but a rich girl and a boy who’s family owned a restaurant stand out.
Thanks!

July 13th, 2010 at 11:17 am

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“Help” gets you to top of line: in need of solvation #plotfinder #finelines #shelfdiscovery

UPDATE: Solved by Jennifer G: The Year of Senior Insanity, by Sonya Levitin (who I also loved for “Journey to America,” a book I couldn’t remember for ages).

Plotfinder from Jenn. C.

The book is about a teenage girl who is class…Kewpie Doll? The uniform/costume involves a fluffy sweater, which she shrinks at one point by putting it in the dryer.

Her parents are away & boyfriend comes over to devirginize her — brings a bottle of Blue Nun, which they open, & then get busy on her waterbed — but the corkscrew punctures the bed.

Help?

July 12th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

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Don’t send me the ’80s paperback edition of “A Gift of Magic” with Nancy’s face emerging from a red-tinged cloud. I’m not ready

I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in used book vendors. Once or twice every few years, when I’m wondering if I’m on the wrong path in my life, I wander over to their tables and ask them (the tables, not the vendors) for a sign.

The last time I did this, right as I wandered into the vastly fiscally unremunerative but intellectually and philosophically satisfying life of a funny ha-ha cultural critic, I found the edition of “The Arabian Nights” for which I’d written flap copy in my first week as an editorial assistant in my first real-life big corporate job.

This seemed SIGN-like but I was not entirely certain how to read it. (Remember how you didn’t follow this whole life path? Well played?)

THIS time, however, I received the oddest but most remarkable sign:

The Trouble With Thirteen!

There is no reason for anyone who is not crazy and the compiler of some weird “Fine Lines” concordance to know this, but this is the book that, for years, has been my UR-PLOTFINDER, the title of which however often I am reminded I can never retain. (I can only ever remember blue and orange dresses, and you call Avenue of the Americas Sixth Avenue, not Avenue of the Americas.)

Again, I don’t know what it means, but it seems promising career-wise and in any case was not a remaindered copy of my own book.

I had also been vastly itchy over yet another article of the “Blah, blah, and in summation, PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN LEAD FULLER, REALER, HAPPIER LIVES THAN YOU. Despite the urine” variety. PEOPLE OF BABBLE. It is not a competition and STOP MAKING IT ONE. (Though if it is, just fyi, this is all true and we win, especially as we can get on board at any time, ha ha ha!)

Anyway, the table also bore the following intimations:

Penny Candy!

Please Don't Eat the Daisies!

As the table must have known, Jean Kerr is my favorite writer of what I consider the golden age of parenting literature! Actually, I consider almost anything but our current age the golden age of parenting literature! I do love that Sandra Tsing Loh, though. Basically I want a few weary drinks and a funny story, and I’m happy. Thank you table.

The table bore no further signs for me but did have the hilarity of the following:

CAMPUS NYMPH

TEENAGE GIRLS IN TROUBLE!

A REPORT: SEX LIFE OF THE AMERICAN PROSTITUTE!

And also

So You Know I'm Not a Perv

…for which I had been searching. Check out that tagline.

Having a boyfriend is not the answer!

I see now it’s a very choose your poison display, isn’t it?

I also picked up copies of Cakes and Ale, Wait Till Helen Comes, Klute, Karen, Socks, Catherine, Called Birdy, The Man Who Loved Children, The Glimpses of the Moon, and first edition hardcovers of The Stepford Wives, A Kiss Before Dying, and Fear of Flying. I’m taking the position these augur nothing.

FIRST FREEBIE: If you can add 5 more, we’ll have 100! And I’ll alphabetize them too!

UPDATE: 10 MORE I MEAN. Taking position here my vast critical capacities have exercised eminent domain over math part of brain. I really did once do physics!

Forgot this one too

Just to show you the font of taxonomies of ’70s and ’80s YA lit is without limit, 45 MORE options from readers (5 from me; I’m not WITHOUT USE)  for my recent AWL Listicle Without Commentary: The 45 Greatest Teen Titles You Have Never Heard of From the Era When They All Mentioned “I,” “Me,” “You” or Some Other Key Person That Are Not ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’

  1. A Horse Named Peaceable
  2. A Star For The Latecomer
  3. About David
  4. After You, My Dear Alphonse
  5. Anything For A Friend
  6. Came Back to Show You I could Fly
  7. Catherine, Called Birdy
  8. Class Pictures
  9. Deliver Us from Evie
  10. Read the rest of this entry »

July 11th, 2010 at 11:18 am

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Mutual Solvation #plotfinders #jezebel #finelines

UPDATE: Alice A.’s is This Stranger My Father, by Robert Hawks. Go Kendra!

You guys are YET AGAIN miraculous. I don’t even know who’s FTW. You’re all FTW.  Nicole T.’s plotfinders have been answered as, respectively, Don’t You Dear Read This, Mrs. Dunphy and Invisible Lissa.  YOU ARE AMAZING. However, poor Alice A. is still SOL. Anyone?

From Alice A.:

The book is about a teenage girl who lives with her father, and they suddenly have to go on the run because he’s been discovered by the police. It turns out that he sold secrets to the Russians when he was younger (possibly some secrets about a calculator?), and his partner was arrested while he escaped. The girl and her dad go on the run to escape the police (although now that I think about it, it might not be the police chasing them). I distinctly remember a scene where she cuts and dyes her hair in a public (or motel) bathroom. And I’m pretty sure the dad dies, and the book ends with her leaving the book (or her diary) in a bathroom or bus station so that her story would be told. I’ve had absolutely no luck googling this and have been thinking about it for years! Help!

July 6th, 2010 at 10:36 pm

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Plotfinder, OMIGOD HOT edition #plotfinder #finelines #jezebel

I can’t believe how hot it is. It’s difficult to continue with any other statement but an emphatic recitation of the previous: I can’t believe how hot it is. That said, many of you are somewhere with air conditioning, I assume? Here are two plotfinders to keep you amused, if not chilled to the bone. (Remember, to follow these with greater ease, you can always friend me on FB, where in great part the Shelf Discovery community resides, or you can subscribe to this feed at www.lizzieskurnick.com/feed. I think you can also just bookmark them here and check back, but again, how can you click something extra when IT IS THIS HOT???)

From Alice A.:

The book is about a teenage girl who lives with her father, and they suddenly have to go on the run because he’s been discovered by the police.  It turns out that he sold secrets to the Russians when he was younger (possibly some secrets about a calculator?), and his partner was arrested while he escaped.  The girl and her dad go on the run to escape the police (although now that I think about it, it might not be the police chasing them).  I distinctly remember a scene where she cuts and dyes her hair in a public (or motel) bathroom.  And I’m pretty sure the dad dies, and the book ends with her leaving the book (or her diary) in a bathroom or bus station so that her story would be told.  I’ve had absolutely no luck googling this and have been thinking about it for years!  Help!

I like it when you say “Help.” It makes me feel my life’s work is not entirely preposterous. Next one, from Nicole T.:

#1:Middle-school aged girl, outcast-ish. Has a little brother with a lisp who I think was supposed to be cute and endearing but who I found to be incredibly irritating as a character. Made celery sticks with cream cheese and raisins to share with friends at school, which sounded revolting to me. Cheerleading uniforms made of felt – and I think they were soccer cheerleaders? There were two male classmates, one with a thing for warts and the other with knobby knees (who may have been likened to a grasshopper at some point). A big school project that entailed crafting tiny clay native americans with ambiguous genitals. And above all, the FUNCHY Club – there was a club called FUNCHY, very exclusive as I recall, but I have no idea wtf FUNCHY means, and it shall drive me insane unless I find out. #2:The protagonist is a high-schooler whose name starts with a T (Tess? Tish?). T has teased bangs and exceptionally crappy parents – dad was abusive/absent, and mom just up and abandons T and her sibling (little brother?) early in the book. This was a pretty short read (100 pages or so) and focuses on T trying to survive without anyone knowing that her parents had bailed. I remember T shoplifting ground beef by stuffing it in her parka and trying to figure out how to keep the utilities on. The book ends when the family moves to Florida with the grandparents and T is confounded by the flat, straight hairstyles. The title is addressed to one of T’s teachers – like, “Dear Ms So-and-so, Something Something.”

XX

Remember, you can write me at jezziefinelines@gmail.com if you need HELP!!!! with a Plotfinder.

* Found BIBF photo here – many thanks!

July 6th, 2010 at 10:03 am

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Instant solvation! #plotfinder #finelines #jezebel

That…was fast! It’s On That Dark Night by Carol Beach York. THANK YOU Erin your presence here is both inspiration and honor.

June 30th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

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Plotfinder deux, enjoy your 4th! #plotfinder #finelines #jezebel

Ashley sent this today, which in my laziness has moved it to top of queue. I was already 400 in 90s and am definitely too old to know. Thoughts??? This one is also kind of epic in the crazed associative disorder order of these things — RODDY and CANDLESHOP and literally THREE BLIND MICE:

Hello.
I have been searching for a book that I loved as a young adult and have not been able to locate it. The book is about two teen girls who take a day trip to a small artsy town (I think its Greenwich) for some shopping. One of the girls, (I think her name is Julie) begins to experience some deja vus. It turns out that she lived there in a past life and was accidently killed as a small child by falling into a ravine in a cemetary. Included in the story are a boy named Roddy who was a bully and lost some fingers in a machinery accident, a candleshop, and a music box that plays part of “Three Blind Mice”. As I’m sure you know, it is very frustrating to be unable to find a book you loved as a child. If you are unable to help, can you please help me find someone who can? I read this book in the late 80s – mid-90s

June 30th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

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Think we have a win on one?: #finelines #plotfinder #shelfdiscovery #jezebel

Okay, Bridgit B. says:

Ooh, I know the second one! (I think.) I’m pretty sure it’s “A Matter of Pride” by Dorothy Simpson, if it’s the one where the main character(Janey?) orders some shoes from a mail-order catalog and everyone tells her they’re inappropriate.

Will email original asker and see if this is in fact so. Now the first one is weirdly torturing me? The drag racer/Yale theme rings distant bell.

The book was set in Maryland. The heroine was a cheerleader/all around good girl who gets auctioned off, in a charity auction, to the school bad boy (drag racer) who gets her to skip school and help clean his car. They start to go out and her horizons get broadened by seeing that he is smart, etc. A secondary plot line is her trying to get into Mt. Holyoke and getting wait listed. She also has a brother at Yale who is becoming a hippie and questioning the family’s values and lifestyle.

The book ends with a pregnancy scare and the girl deciding to go to a small school in VA. She and the boy break up and she moves on with her life, but not the one that she took for granted she would have.

My guess is that it was published in the early 70?s. The cover of the book showed a Peter Max bedspread and a princess phone. How I can remember these arcane details and not the character’s names is a mystery to me.

—–

The books are about a girl who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. In one book, she goes to school barefoot and is shamed by her teacher, whom she later learns to appreciate and who learns to appreciate her. In another book, she goes to the mainland for high school and decides against accounting in favor of the college course. Perhaps also In that book, she saves her money to buy “the book of knowledge” that she sees advertised in a magazine and desperately wants.

June 29th, 2010 at 9:29 am

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The Triumphant Return of Plotfinder! #finelines #shelfdiscovery #jezebel

One of the great sadnesses about leaving Jezebel’s “Fine Lines” series behind is that I also had to retire the Plotfinder series, in which you all sent me your mysterious queries — “Girl on a bus who eats bean sprouts and peanut butter sandwich?” “The Divorce Express!” — and we all solved them.

Plotfinder was one of those weird items that sprang up organically almost from the first column, and I’ve often wondered if it’s because strange details and covers are so much more likely to endure — “Blue dress, orange dress, girl who says Avenue of the Americas instead of Sixth Avenue?” from “The Trouble With Thirteen” are especially persistent with me — than actual titles at that age. Someone could probably do a neurological study on it, and I am not that person! I am just the person in possession of about 100 unsolved queries who was always like “I’ll add it to the queue” and then let it languish for an unacceptable period.

Yesterday I found yet another trove of used YA — this one in Seaburn Books, in Astoria — and was like WAIT — why am I not posting a cover and a Plotfinder with some regularity so we can all enjoy the mystery and wonder thereof? In any case, I am now going to do so. Since I literally have 96 I should probably do one once a day but we’ll space them out. I’ll also see if I can get my publisher to donate some “Shelf Discovery” copies for the winners. For now it is all for the honor and the glory.

Feel free to answer HERE, or to friend Shelf Discovery on FB and answer there. You can also send me an email at jezziefinelines@gmail.com.

These first two come from Betsy P. and Ashley T.:

The book was set in Maryland. The heroine was a cheerleader/all around good girl who gets auctioned off, in a charity auction, to the school bad boy (drag racer) who gets her to skip school and help clean his car. They start to go out and her horizons get broadened by seeing that he is smart, etc. A secondary plot line is her trying to get into Mt. Holyoke and getting wait listed. She also has a brother at Yale who is becoming a hippie and questioning the family’s values and lifestyle.

The book ends with a pregnancy scare and the girl deciding to go to a small school in VA. She and the boy break up and she moves on with her life, but not the one that she took for granted she would have.

My guess is that it was published in the early 70′s. The cover of the book showed a Peter Max bedspread and a princess phone. How I can remember these arcane details and not the character’s names is a mystery to me.

The books are about a girl who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. In one book, she goes to school barefoot and is shamed by her teacher, whom she later learns to appreciate and who learns to appreciate her. In another book, she goes to the mainland for high school and decides against accounting in favor of the college course. Perhaps also In that book, she saves her money to buy “the book of knowledge” that she sees advertised in a magazine and desperately wants.

June 28th, 2010 at 9:50 am

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Will Work for “Like”

If you missed either of my pieces this week, I reviewed Justin Cronin’s delightful The Passage, and also recommended three books to NPR you can use to feel better about failing immediately out of the gate after graduation. I even responded to a piece in which I was quoted because I disagreed with the conclusion! Now I am off to write yet another piece for the fledging, underpaying web culture monster, the landed gentry of which I was hanging out with on a well-stocked roof in Soho last night, wondering how this all had HAPPENED. Is anyone else weirded out how quickly every publication installed that Facebook social app? Is anyone under the impression the site can’t pull all your info when you’re logged in, for the most part? I did just want to put that out there as a warning before I badgered you yet again to click all the recommending options nonetheless.

June 26th, 2010 at 10:54 am

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Before it begins! #crossposted #willsolvethisproblemsoon

I know, I know, I just drafted a massive complaint of those bitches of the MSM yanking my pony. I didn’t say I didn’t enjoy the drama, though! Here’s some recent work:

At the behest of Salon, I Kindle’d Stephenie Meyer’s latest and concluded that, by the third novel-to-movie, the bubble’s off the champagne:

Mega-popular writers today have a hard row to hoe. Fame that, in the old days, would have crested with a spot on morning television has morphed into a sort of media free-for-all. Hollywood and TV attack fresh young authors like tasty kill. Fans treat their works and the authors themselves like some massive World of Storycraft, spinning off reams of their own fan fiction and commentary and pestering the author for updates. It’s not surprising that even the most gracious scribe might do the narrative equivalent of heading off to a cabin in the woods...

It drives me nuts that people don’t get that SATC is kitsch. I’m also interested in how, though we have a zillion shows about marriage, no men are allowed to be in them. This is being interpreted by commenters as some reactionary critique of womankind, which it is not — but vale! Here’s my piece for Politics Daily, my favorite place to commentararize:

Yes, you critics mildly confused by the dramatic headgear, vast apartments and frequent jettings-about of the ladies of the “Sex and the City” franchise can put down your poison pens. It’s an hommage to “The Women” — not an embrace of the fruits of Wall Street. Still, what passed for a witty take on marriage in 1939 makes slightly less sense nowadays. While the gay community is scrambling to get the state benefits that are supposed to accompany a lifelong commitment, heedless beneficiaries of them are fleeing the institution in droves. If that two-year run of sex scandals didn’t make the point, Al and Tipper’s breakup, and now their eldest daughter Karenna’s, too, should have prepared us at last to revisit the idea of till death do us part. The problem is, the husband still doesn’t seem to be part of the equation

Also, this month I am in O! I love O. I can’t tell you how much I love O; I am a subscriber and everything; I gain vast knowledge from that advice column; I skip Suzy because I’m scared to think about my money. I love O!

And the one thing I do not love about O is that they do not make an effort to be online any more than my Grandma Sally. Actually, if I had a Grandma Sally, even she would be way more online, O. Click here for my contribution. This is illegal but you can subscribe and should, too.

Also, when you subscribe, you’ll see on the facing page an interview with Mary Murphy, who’s collected a passel of reactions to “To Kill a Mockingbird” entitled “Scout, Atticus and Boo: A Celebration of 50 Years of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I am in this book! It will be a documentary! It’s so weird. Dan Rather is in it too, and many others. By which I mean: OPRAH IS IN THIS BOOK.

June 13th, 2010 at 10:34 am

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