I can’t recall when Rainbow Rowell and I started conversing on Twitter, but I’m guessing it had something to do with pop culture. One of our first discussions dealt with romcoms, because why not?
I remember when Rainbow first got the job as a columnist at the Omaha World-Herald, in the late 90’s. I was working down in Arkansas. When I visited home, around that time, I was reading the paper and saw her column. Someone told me that she was a new columnist, “probably hired for diversity’s sake”. Because, God forbid, someone young, and a woman, could also write a column.
She worked at the World-Herald for nearly ten years, before leaving, in 2006, to take an advertising job at Bailey Lauerman. After her Mad Men phase ended, she came back to the World-Herald last year. And this is when we started connecting.
I’ve lost track of how often I’ve been told I’m wasting my life away by indulging in pop culture.* Sometimes the condescension is so thick it’d take a katana to cut through it. So, it’s nice to talk pop culture with someone who has an affinity for it.
*Of course, I think if I were to hunt and fish it would be a waste of my time, but that’s not as culturally acceptable to think. Thank goodness I’m a Husker fan or else I’d be considered insane by some.
So, last fall*, I started tweeting Rainbow here and there after reading her columns. I occasionally do this with people’s work I read online. If I’m lucky I’ll get a tweet back saying, “Thanks”. Completely understandable when some of the people I read have several hundred thousand followers. If they tried responding to everyone it would take up all their time.
*It truly is the best time of the year. Run out and buy a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils to celebrate it when it arrives.
Rainbow, however, would respond back with more than one word to my tweets. Soon, we were talking Harry Potter, pop culture and raising kids, and more. Jana would get in on it soon when she realized Rainbow loved When Harry Met Sally. Rainbow would later open her up to Neil Gaiman comics.*
*Rainbow agreed to let Jana borrow some of her Sandman comics, seeing that my Gaiman comics of Eternals and 1602 wouldn’t be the best introduction to Gaiman for Jana. One day, Rainbow’s husband, Kai, comes to Christ Community Church to deliver the Sandman graphic novels. When the receptionist calls me, I hear, “There’s a guy here from Rainbow Center.” I have no idea what she’s talking about and assume the call is for my dad. Nope. She calls back and repeats what she says. I pick up the phone, taking it off speaker, and ask her to repeat. This time, I hear “Kai” and “Rainbow Rowell” and realize what’s happening. I can only imagine the absurdity it was for Kai to come to a church to deliver comics to a pastor he had never met.
Rainbow is one of the better individuals at responding to comments and inquiries. Jana and I are not the only ones that have received the niceness from her. I can only imagine how she was when she first started out as a columnist, especially in dealing with those that didn’t like her or agree with her column.
Amidst the pop culture talk, we talked about our respective families. One of these days I’m sure our kids we’ll get together and play with Legos.* Jana and I are glad Rainbow stuck with Twitter. Who else would I be able to have an argument about the film Excess Baggage with online?
*Sorry, Lego bricks.
Rainbow and I first talked live when she interviewed me for a story about Instagram. One of the things I talked about was how using Instagram filters reminded me of pictures from my childhood. The interview drifted into our respective upbringings and the similarities we experienced. It turned into a great conversation.
Part of the reason I say all that, beyond just wanting to support her and her work, is I’m probably not objective when talking about her new book. Earlier in the year, Rainbow’s first novel, Attachments, was published. I liked it, but I think that was going to be a given. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. I had two late nights as I went through the latter half of the story.
I think you will like it as well if you:
- enjoy reading Rainbow’s columns
- relish 80’s and 90’s pop culture
- love Omaha
- like smart, fun and witty dialog
- could watch a romcom every week
- enjoy a good story
I got the audio version and waited till I had a roadtrip to dive into it. After I dropped off Jana and the boys, with Jana’s parents, I started listening to it on the drive back. Four hours passed by quickly. I paused it at one point so I could listen to a song that came to mind during the story. I laughed out loud at the various references to Omaha and pop culture.* And, it was nice to revisit Indian Hills** again. When I got to the park scene during winter, I was hooked.
*I was not fascinated by Julia Roberts, remember Omaha’s brief flirtation with country line dancing, wondered why guys would have special tools to keep the bill of their hat bent a certain way, and have joked about Omaha’s lack of creativity with naming high schools based on directions.
**The theater where I saw everything from Malcolm X to Cool World.
I was impressed with how well Rainbow wrote the character Lincoln, a character I could relate to at various parts in how he interacted with life, women, family and friends.
Why do I like Attachments? Maybe it’s because I grew up in Omaha during the 80’s and 90’s. Maybe it’s because Jana and I’s relationship started off with long form emails to each other and this book reminded me of that. Or, maybe I like it because the story is good.*
*Like how Rainbow first got the columnist job. She was good.
I’m not the only one that enjoyed the book. Attachments has forty-five reviews on Amazon, and forty-three of them give a minimum of four stars. I’ll be buying a hard copy of the book so I can mark it up and badger Rainbow with tweets* about it.
*Email would probably be more appropriate, but WebFence would probably flag it.