Tag Archives: I’m A Loser

I’m A Loser

Beatles Loser

This article is used with the author’s permission.

Dear Reader,

I was feeling like a loser for a few days. Couldn’t seem to shake the feeling and I couldn’t figure out what was at the root of my distress. It wasn’t a new feeling for me. There are things that haunt a person periodically — feeling like a loser is one of mine. Loser: out of my league, losing my edge, feeling like a failure, these are my personalized definitions.

Whenever loser becomes part of my identity I work hard to hide it — even from my husband. Because if I tell my husband, he tries to cheer me up — that part would be okay — but when I’m feeling bad, then my husband feels bad, too. He worries about me. I figure why have two of us feeling miserable. “This too shall pass.” So instead, I walk hand-in-hand, alone with Suzanne, trying not to let anyone else know.

“I feel like a loser.” It’s definitely not an opening line that leaves a very good impression. Looking back, I can’t think of one single time when it would have been in my best interest to have extended my hand and said, “Hello, I’m Suzanne Beecher, nice to meet you. I feel like a loser today.”

On the other hand, I recently watched a movie and in one of the scenes there was an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, and it got me to thinking that maybe hiding something makes a person feel worse. If you’re not familiar with the AA meeting format, whenever anyone stands up to speak, the first line they deliver is, “Hello, I’m (Joe, Jane, or Julie, whatever their name) and I’m an alcoholic.” I’m not sure why that protocol is followed in the meetings, but it felt inviting. So when I got up this morning and looked in the mirror, the first thing I said to myself was, “Hello, I’m Suzanne Beecher and I feel like a loser.”

Hearing the words, suddenly my “loser” line wasn’t as powerful as when I’d kept it hidden away. Saying the words out loud took the sting out of them, and surprisingly my self-proclamation didn’t set a negative tone for the day. Instead it made my day easier. In fact, by the time I went to bed, the reflection in the mirror felt different and I was so relieved.

“Hello, I’m Suzanne Beecher and I don’t feel like a loser anymore.”

Thanks for reading with me. It’s so good to read with friends.

Suzanne Beecher
Read-It-First@EmailBookClub.com

Read-It-First is a service that provides excerpts from new and upcoming book releases via e-mail. (It’s like an e-mail book club.) You can sign up at:

http://www.read-it-first.com/

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Shaggy Dog

I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson (Algonquin, April 2010)

This reviewer had such high hopes for this novel, a “love story” by Pete Nelson.   Like many readers, I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and hoped that this would be a worthy follow-up in the same genre.   In Stein’s book the animal protagonist is Enzo the dog; a dog whose thoughts can be heard by his race car driving owner.   Enzo is old and looking forward to his passing so that he can be reincarnated as a human being.   In Nelson’s book the featured animal is Stella the dog; a dog who can speak to her owner Paul Gustavson.   Stella is old and mostly immobile; she is fully prepared for her upcoming last trip to the vet.   Are the similarities a bit obvious?

I Thought You Were Dead starts off as a truly hilarious story due to Stella’s wise, sarcastic and biting voice.   The dog realizes that her divorced owner is pretty much a loser – he’s a hack writer who writes for the Moron series of books (like The Moron’s Guide to Nature, Paul’s current assignment).   Paul has a girlfriend, Tamsen, who takes out insurance in the form of a second boyfriend.   Paul might as well have the Beatles’ song “I’m A Loser” playing in the background of his life.

Stella’s spirit keeps the reader glued to the story until the point at which her health takes a turn for the worse, although it is not a fatal turn.   Because Stella looks at life as something to be enjoyed and valued in times of good health, she does not desire to hang around as something to be pitied when she drops stool around the house and has to be carried up and down the stairs.   In this, as in other things, she’s wiser than her owner.   Stella, in her wisdom, eventually convinces Paul that he must set up an appointment for her to be euthanized.

It is at the point of Stella’s sad death that the novel pretty much comes to an end.   Oh, Nelson continues it with a secondary plot about Paul’s father having a stroke and Paul having to come to terms with his past in order to understand his future.   Right…  It seems that Paul’s father crashed a family car when Paul and his siblings were young and tragedy ensued, a fact that everyone must deal with again for reasons that are not quite clear.   Paul is supposed to learn a great lesson when his father, recovering from a stroke, tells him not to drink.

One wonders if something happened in the author’s life that is being revealed here as a form of catharsis?   If so, it wouldn’t be the first time an author wrestled with his past in the form of thinly disguised fictional events.   In the forthcoming book The Mentor: A Memoir, Tom Grimes admits to including a factual incident in a novel he wrote – the night his father crashed the family automobile, “drunk and doing ninety.”

The family story in Dead feels like a secondary plot that was tacked on as the author could not decide what to write about once Stella the dog was removed from the spotlight in this novel.   It’s unfortunate as the glue lines attaching the funny and overly downcast plots are almost visible.   With Stella gone, the story limps painfully and overly slowly along to a conclusion – a disappointing one – that will come too late for the average reader.

There are some who criticize Anna Quindlen (unfairly in my eyes) for what they view as her slow and detached style.   Quindlen’s latest family novel, Every Last One, virtually soars compared to the final few plodding chapters of Dead.

Joseph Arellano

Take Away:   This one starts off as cute as a puppy before it turns into an old tired dog of a story.

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized