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10/04/2010

Great book: Good Eggs

If you only read one book this year, let it be...well, anything other than Stieg Larsson's last Salander book, because, wow, I hated that.  I really did.  (No one is paying me to say that, either.  I received absolutely no compensation for thinking it was bad, and although I tried to find a sponsor to subsidize my approaching people reading it in public, tilting my head in an angle of disbelief, and incredulously saying to them, "Really?" ...strangely, there were no takers.)

Good-eggs-cover But if you read two books this year, let one of them be Phoebe Potts' Good Eggs.

First, the format.  Good Eggs is a memoir told in comics.  Opening the book to any page, I found surprises; the drawings are so charming, so lovingly detailed, and just bubbling over with unexpected jokes.  In almost every panel there's something to smile about, even when Potts confronts matters that aren't intrinsically funny.

And her story is full of those.  I'm hesitant to classify Good Eggs rigidly as an infertility memoir, although that's the main narrative of the book; it's just that it's so much more.  In it we see so many sides of Phoebe: an idealistic young woman confronting depression.  A talented artist fumbling towards professional fulfillment.  A newly enthusiastic Jew -- "Bruce Springsteen is my favorite rabbi" -- figuring out what her faith means to her.  A wife who loves her husband, even when they aren't in perfect sync:

  Good-eggs-1
(Click to enlarge.)

So even beyond one person's infertility experience, which can be great reading on its own, Good Eggs gives us a lot to identify with, especially its funny, authentic, truly lovable narrator.  Throw in the negatives, the miscarriages, and the frustration we all know a little too well:

Wheres-my-baby
(Click to enlarge.)

...and the result is an unusually rich memoir that I promise will charm and move you.  Here is my guarantee: If it doesn't, I will personally stand in front of you, tilt my head, and say, "Really?"  (Sponsors?  Call me.  We'll monetize.)

I came out of reading this book loving Phoebe Potts. (How could you not love someone who dutifully lies on the table for an IUI, spreads her knees, and says, "Release the hounds"?)  When it comes to infertility, she's unquestionably been there:

Good-eggs-spread-2
(Click to enlarge.)

...done that, and emerged to tell the story with an original, engaging voice.  Good Eggs is fantastic.

...

I want to tell you how this came about.  I almost never review things here; I generally feel that the best way to avoid any potential awkwardness is simply not to do it.  Back in August, though, Phoebe, who said she'd read my blog "since the heady days of IUI," sent me a press release and an excerpt.  Not an hour later I was writing back, getting all indiscriminate-caps-lock in my enthusiasm, asking for a copy to give away.  I loved the five pages she'd sent; I was pretty sure I'd love the rest and want to share it with you.

I did, and I do. 

One copy of Good Eggs to one lucky commenter.  Don't just tell me you'd like to have the book, though; tell me about...oh, let's see: a waiting room experience, if you're infertile.  A coffee shop scene, if you're not.  Your favorite rabbi, if you're Jewish.  Or even how much you hated the Larsson book.

Winner to be chosen on Wednesday, when I'll do -- improbably -- another book review.

...

All illustrations are copyright 2010 by Phoebe Potts.  Published by HarperCollins.

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