Friday, October 06, 2006

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. Ayelet Waldman, 2006

Before reading that book, I read that Waldman was author of some mystery books series, where child abandonment was the crime around which the plot revolved; and that before "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" she wrote "The Daughter's Keeper," which is about a mother/daughter relationship/power struggle and drug laws.

I also read that she had forsaken her Harvard law degree job in order to breed (she has four children) and write. Worth mentioning as well is, that she is married to Pulitzer Prize winner, writer Michael Chabon, and that she has a column on about..., you guessed it, motherhood. She has a blog on her site about the books she reads - and she reads a lot! One even wonders how she manages to read so much. But she provides the explanation in one of her interviews - she works in the morning (while her kids are at school), she has lunch and a conversation with her husband (who wakes up around noon because he writes during the night), then they both spend the remaining part of the day with the kids. After her husband puts the kids to bed and goes off to write, she goes to bed and reads. All that happens either in Main or in Berkley, I don' remember exactly.

If you put the first 100 pages of the book (that's how far I read) in the context of the above, you can already start feeling sorry about the nice-looking red-head featured on the dust-jacket of the book. The self-absorption of the ambitious female breeder...can it sustain itself for 300 hundred pages? I can't say "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" is a bad book nor I find it badly written. But why couldn't I read past page 100?...The book meticulously reports the stream of consciousness of a mother, who has lost her two-day old baby to SIDS and has difficulties loving her step son - a peculiar five year old...After being taken through minute by minute accounts of elevator rides, taxi cab rides, cup-cake eating, smart baby talk, etc. and all mundane trifles of mothering, I flipped to the last page of the novel to get reassured that the heroine will eventually come to terms (love?) her step son. What else? -- the cliche is so convenient. Some of Ms. Waldman's observations may merit communicating to a wider reading audience - for example, I found interesting the description of the differences between mothers and nannies in the waiting room of the upscale Manhattan daycare... But who would really want to spend time reading about the length and shape of the nipples of a woman who recently gave birth? Can the world be exhaustively perceived and rendered for contemplation through the eyes of a mother, a mother, and a mother obsessed with mothering -- because Waldman's central character is nothing else but a Mother -- capitalized?

I have to admit -- what made the character sympathetic to me was the fact that she thought the film "Frida" sucked.

But enough about Ayelet Waldman. Regardless of how she projects herself, she is a mass market author, very intelligent, with a good sense of language, and taking credit for being liberal only because the majority of the American reading public is ridiculously conservative.


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