Blume for Boys

January 13, 2019 | New York, NY

My fourth grade teacher, Ms. Pialto, found me troublesome.

While the rest of class learned about the formation of sedimentary rocks, I spent all day reading books under my desk. I read Judy Blume’s “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “Blubber” and “Fudge-a-Mania.” Preparing for new adventures – like puberty and breasts and following my imagination – felt way more important than dirt.

Ms. Pialto disagreed. “Soné, put the book away,” she’d say, with a mild eye roll.

And so I slouched further in my seat, out of sight. I soon begged my mother to let me wear my hair down, thinking, A) It’d make me prettier, and B) It’d help me hide my books. (Style always = utilization.)

But this bookish madness had a purpose. All I wanted was to spend time with Judy Blume. Judy understood me. She was always one step ahead. She had all the answers.

In the years since, neither of us, it seems, has changed. Blume celebrated her 80th birthday last year and to wrap up 2018, she wrote a new book: “Periodically Pissed.”

But wait. This one’s for men.

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It started with the words of Blume fan, singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer. “Women are currently scaring the bejesus out of people by doing something very non-dramatic and mundane: Telling It Like It is,” Palmer said last February.

New experiences are scary. They make us sweaty, nervous, unsure of what’s going to happen next. Everyone’s just too gosh darn exasperated with men lately. Maybe there are too many expectations, too many landmines, too many women saying, This isn’t the 60s anymore. We demand decency.

New experiences are scary. They make us sweaty, nervous, unsure of what’s going to happen next. Everyone’s just too gosh darn exasperated with men lately.

Who better than Judy Blume to gently guide the way for an entire gender?

It’s 2019 and women are taking ownership, not just over their bodies, but things like Congress too. And in a time brimming with uncertainty, Judy’s here to share some secrets into the unknown.

“My books have always been about the universal questions of adulthood and one question men always seem to have is: ‘Is she pissed or is she on her period?’” Blume said, sipping an iced tea on the porch of her Key West home, “It’s been a while since I wrote a banned book. It’s nice to live on the edge.”

My hero has done it again. She’s written another coming-of-age bible.

“Periodically Pissed” is a travel-sized guide. Chapters are short, with illustrations here and there, to help men better interact with women in the workplace, romantic relationships, and regular activities like grocery shopping. Emotions are separated by plastic tabs so that one can easily locate a Blumian explanation for them. See a woman crying? Flip to the Blue Tab. Screaming? That’s the Scarlet section. Is she no longer speaking to you? Go to Ivory.

It’s small but this paperback is chock-full of everyday scenarios that befuddle men. Judy’s voice is warm and cheerful throughout, like friendly gossip over blueberry muffins on a Saturday morning.

Oh, she marched out of that meeting when it ran 45 minutes over? Well, that’s understandable. And her voice shook when she stood up for that great idea no one liked? Mhmm. She ordered two baskets of fries at happy hour now, did she? Atrocious, but then again, all humans get hungry. And she sobbed uncontrollably at that video of a baby bonobo kissing a toddler? Okay, fine, that one’s probably her period.

Most explanations offer the same solution: “Treat her like a peer, anyway.”

“My books have always been about the universal questions of adulthood and one question men always seem to have is: ‘Is she pissed or is she on her period?’”

“This book, just like my past books, is an acknowledgement. It’s a way of saying, ‘I’m here. I understand. Life’s hard and all these women be so crazy,’” she mused.

And so, “Periodically Pissed” is for the everyman. It’s for the twenty-something with 2 female roommates, the men of Wall Street, the new CEO of that media corporation, the politicians in meetings with the Fab Four, or the respectful co-worker with a crush. It’s for highlighting and dog-earing and sharing over group texts.

It’s a secret asset detailing the world’s worst kept secret:

“Men don’t seem to have their s*** together. But a good book can help guide the way,” she said, and then paused, with a twinkle in her eye. “Then again, what do I know?”

“Periodically Pissed” is available at all stores with books. Get your copy today!

Keeping Up With Books

May 1, 2018 | Los Angeles, CA

Someone, somewhere on the Internet said one day, The devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder. The Internet, with all its tweeting minions, bowed solemnly to this truth. And in a Land Far Away & Far More Expensive, Kris Jenner heard this and smiled.

It’s been a crazy few days for the Kardashian family, what with one lover off on a Twitter spree, another blatantly cheating, tabloids circling the mess like hawks, and Kris Jenner – manager of America’s True First Family – doing damage control.

Otherwise known as “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

But chaos on KUWTK means something new is on the way. Something shiny, something to be monetized. Something, perhaps, like books.
___

“It all started one afternoon this past December,” Kris told me at her Hidden Hills mansion, “[My daughters] Kim and Khloe called me into the kitchen and jokingly smashed a cake into my face. I was furious. What did I do to deserve that kind of disrespect?”

Reality TV hath no fury like a woman scorned – no less, by her own offspring. And so, Kris spent the next few months in deep thought. Somewhere in this sticky humiliation was an opportunity.

“The other night, I spoke with Khloe, who just gave birth to her daughter, True. I said, ‘Khloe, honey, this is the beginning of a beautiful new chapter for you.’ And it hit me,” Kris said, “A new chapter. Books!”

She took off her Céline glasses, clipping them to her leopard print dress.

“I wonder…if I’d pushed my daughters to read more, maybe they wouldn’t have grown up to waste perfectly good cake. Maybe I can help Khloe not get cake thrown in her face. What’s motherhood if you’re not passing down life’s lessons?”

Reality TV hath no fury like a woman scorned – no less, by her own offspring. Somewhere in this sticky humiliation was an opportunity.

Kris Jenner has, after all, taken motherhood to new levels. Over the past 10 years, she’s single handedly managed the careers of all 6 children in the Kardashian-Jenner clan. Their show, now in its 12th season, has paved the way for a QVC fashion line, tooth-whitening endorsements, makeup lines, multiple spinoffs, and an episode in which she considered being made into a diamond after her death. But something was always missing.

“This could be big. I’ve been researching, digging into some classics: Lolita, Little Women, Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice,” she shuddered, “Oooh, that last one was titillating. There are entire worlds that don’t exist on television. Did you know that? Why aren’t we all reading more?”

And so, the matron of superficial beauty is on a mission to bring back books.

Except, they never went anywhere. They’ve been here all along, revered through the centuries. They win Pulitzers, appear in NYTimes Bestselling lists, get endorsed by Oprah – but nothing truly exists in culture until Kris Jenner takes an interest in it. Maybe, just maybe, books haven’t been managed correctly all these years. That’s all about to change.

“Books are fabulously understated,” Kris said, sipping a dry martini, “They don’t just go with your look, they elevate it. Just think – we could have a resurgence of literature with women at the forefront.”

6 particular women at the forefront, that is. With Kris’s business acumen, books will make their way to the Kardashian-Jenner brand – a brand with over 500 million followers who believe they’re just one lip kit, hair color, or boob job away from perfection.

The truth of the matter is that the right accessory can change a woman’s life. It allows her to express herself, it gives her a certain joie de vivre. While you can’t judge a book by its cover, you’ll probably judge a woman by the book she carries. Someone might as well make money off this fact. It might as well be Kris Jenner.

The right accessory can change a woman’s life. It allows her to express herself, it gives her a certain joie de vivre. While you can’t judge a book by its cover, you’ll probably judge a woman by the book she carries.

She knows this. Soon, fans will be taking Twitter surveys about their favorite books. Upcoming episodes of KUWTK will feature how to appropriately respond to a catcall over one’s “big books.” Designers are lined up for Books of the Week underpants. (Monday: “Eat, Pray, Love Me”; Tuesday: “This Ol’ Feminine Mystique”; and so forth). Kim Kardashian is developing an Old Book Scent (with hints of grass & vanilla) to add to her perfume line.

Later into our conversation, an assistant brought over a tray of oatmeal-raisin cookies. Kris waved it away – the tray was plastic. A few moments later, the cookies reappeared on an Hermès serving plate.

I asked Kris what success looks like for her new venture.

“I see a stylish young girl in a city somewhere. She understands that while looks matter, books matter more. She’s a trendsetter, she’s got all her friends reading. And when they achieve total global domination – which they will – they will be indebted to me,” Kris said, with a smile.

She took a bite of her cookie, looking into the distance.

“It’s all about creating opportunities. Where would my family be without me? Where would the world be without books?”

To think it all started with cake.

Road to a Pulitzer

December 17, 2017 | New York, NY

Books, books, books!

It’s the time of year to find the perfect present to give to your literary friends to prove that you, too, are a Smart Attentive Person. No present demonstrates this more than a book. More so, an award-winning book, one that’s been hailed by other Smart Attentive People as worthy of their time.

Luckily, you’ve got this column. Today, I’m speaking with Hugo Luna, Pulitzer-winning author of Once Upon a Dreamless Night. Luna’s novel won this year’s new “Genre-Defying” category.

When we meet, he’s wearing a t-shirt, khakis, and an air of nonchalance (like most geniuses do). It’s always nice hearing fellow writers’ success stories, so I can’t wait to hear the wisdom Luna’s about to drop. Here are unedited excerpts from our conversation.

Your book, Once Upon a Dreamless Night, has been quite the bestseller this year. How do you feel?

Hugo Luna: (Shrugs) It’s just luck. I’m lucky.

Well, what inspired Once Upon a Dreamless Night?

HL: Uh, well it’s hard to get a girlfriend. You have to do so much stuff. Get flowers, iron pants, take more baths, pretend you think she’s sexy with retainers. Just so you have someone to talk to.

But I got one. I got a girlfriend.

Then, uh, 2 years ago, she started asking for a bedtime story. She’d ask before we went to sleep, during long drives, awkward silences…And I’d always say, “Gina, I don’t have a story.”(He shrugs.) Just like that. And she’d say, “So make one up!” She always said it in this high-pitched voice so I figured she had a point.

The inspiration for your novel was a bedtime story?

HL: Uh, yeah. Then one night, May 16th – I remember because I bought a new pair of khakis that day – I told her a story. She loved it and kept asking for more. Every night after that, I tried to better myself. Then the fifth season of “Game of Thrones” ended. My story got longer and I had to write it all down.

“Everything’s so upside down. You give people exactly what they want and they call you a rebel.”

What were some challenges you faced while writing this?

HL: Well, uh, I’m a writer. (He shrugs.) I give up easily. Gina broke up with me. She said I was lazy but I wrote her a story, didn’t I? After she left, I didn’t have anyone to tell stories to. My khakis got tighter from all the eating. One day at work, my messenger bag ripped and everything fell out. My coworker, Joe, found my old manuscript on the floor. He liked it and helped me get it published.

When Gina found out, she called and said I should submit it for a Pulitzer. I thought, Why not? Besides, uh, I missed the smell of her coconut conditioner.

That’s quite a story.

HL: That’s what she said every night. Hey-oh!

So much of your novel links back to the immigrant story. I loved that because my parents were also immigrants to the U.S. What influenced this decision?

HL: Uh, Gina always said I was emotionally unavailable. She’d say, “Hugo, why can’t you get deep?” So I told her the story of my parents coming to the U.S., my childhood, meals my mom cooked, struggles we had. I just threw it all in the book.

It’s funny ‘cause on the news, it looks like everyone hates us. People don’t like immigrants here. But they love beautiful stories about tragic things. And they loved my book. They called it ‘Genre-Defying.’ Everything’s so upside down. You give people exactly what they want and they call you a rebel. At least I got to tell my family’s story and make some money.

In a word, what would you say is the essence of your book?

HL: I mean, uh, it’s about being an American- what it means to be an American.

What does that mean to you?

HL: Well, uh, this.

(He points to himself, slouched down in his seat.)

Anything else you’d like to share with readers?

HL: I heard Gina’s seeing someone new. But I bet he doesn’t tell Pulitzer-winning bedtime stories. That’s what women want, right? I’m back on these dating apps with my bio like ‘Award-winning bedtime storyteller.’ That’s sexy, right? It’s like a literary six-pack.

I suppose it is.

HL: See, I’m a winner. Deep down I knew I had it in me.
__

And so it goes. Behind every award-winning man tends to be an insatiable woman who wanted more.

Once Upon a Dreamless Night is available in bookstores everywhere.
Get your copy today!