There’s something about Wisconsin. We grab national news and stage a ridiculously large (and incredibly peaceful!) months-long protest. We are the go-to state when movies or books need a random state: 2012 alludes to us, as does Annie Hall. The Prince and Me pretends to be in WI, but that is not our state (but thanks for trying!). Bridesmaids features us, and Home Alone discusses one of our towns. That 70s Show takes place here. I could go on and on. There’s even a “Christmas in Wisconsin” song and who does not love the Green Bay Packers (except Bears and Viking fans). With all this Wisconsin love– so great for a flyover state!– I am naturally drawn to books that take place in Wisconsin. It’s a compulsion, an urge. I really should look into being treated for it: it would save me countless dollars and many minutes of my time.
And so, this was how I found myself on one of my last nights on a really bad shift I no longer work, sitting in the dim light on the only warm place on a cold tile floor, reading Rebecca Rasmussen’s The Bird Sisters. And it made me angry. And annoyed. And even more depressed and disillusioned than I already was thanks to my job.
A few weeks later my friend’s mom mentioned it, how she had heard it was a depressing book and that the only reason people were reading it was because of the poetic language. I told her she was right and, in the process of getting angry at a certain character, I called him a certain bad d-word in front of an eight year old. And yes, my hands instantly flew to my mouth to try to stuff the word back in. The eight year old, thankfully, seemed to be into his Legos and did not hear my goof up, though I’m pretty sure he’s heard the word before.
And I once more proved how impassioned I can get over books, treating characters like actual people. You should have seen my emotions over the Harry Potter books! On more than one occasion I was pissed and one time I wanted to throw book 5 across the room (after getting angry at Harry for being angry for 150+ pages) and not read anymore to stop Harry from doing something I didn’t think he should do. But alas (I like that word)! That’s another blog post. Maybe.
So, The Bird Sisters. What didn’t I like about them? Well, you do not go swimming in the Wisconsin River. I repeat: YOU DO NOT GO SWIMMING IN THE WISCONSIN RIVER. There are undertows. Tourists go on sandbars that turn out to be just sediment and get sucked into the river. My own great-grandfather died in a tributary of said river. I have spent the last 22+ years having YOU DO NOT SWIM IN THE WISCONSIN RIVER pounded into my head by more than just my parents.
And then, when I went to camp this summer right by the WI river, I watched tourists swimming in it and people going “Oh, I didn’t know you shouldn’t swim in it.” But there are horror stories. And what does this have to do with the book? Well, they swim in the Wisconsin River, which I do not condone. But more importantly, they make even more idiotic of choices. And I was… yeah, there are no words for my displeasure over the consequences and actions of some of the characters, nor do I think I can truly believe some of it.
Though I did enjoy the fact that the person who wrote the book lived in Spring Green and was actually writing about our state as a non-outsider, which seems to happen a lot:
Author: “Honey, I need a generic state where–”
Yeah, that’s pretty much how it happens with Wisconsin being mentioned or used. At least in my mind that’s how it is.
And that character I alluded to earlier is a douche. That is all.