I was up visiting my folks in northern Wisconsin a week ago and was fortunate to visit my mom’s book club which had read The Usual Mistakes. What a smart group of women they were, and what astute readers. One woman asked me where I was in my own life when I wrote the book, sure that I was in the middle of a divorce. She helped me to articulate what I’ve long thought about my first book, which is that it was the book of my twenties. I wrote it before I’d really had a long-term healthy relationship and I guess my hopes of finding one weren’t that strong. The stories are more about individuals in relationships trying to assert themselves or their identities, while the collection coming out–the book of my thirties–is more about the identity of relationships and where individuals fit within that. Becoming a mother will do that to a person.
Plus, I just loved how these women blended talking about books with talking about their lives. At one point there was a side story about the hostess hearing a loud clatter while she was getting ready that morning, then coming out, opening the fridge, and seeing a mess so large she couldn’t quite compute it (a can of pop had exploded in the back and coated every shelf and surface) so she simply closed the door and stood there with her hand on the handle. What a perfect comic moment. Another told about talking with her husband about making a large purchase and how he surprised her by saying, “of course you should,” when she’d been gearing up with a list of rationale why she needed it. Still being surprised by a partner’s reaction in a long-standing relationship delighted me, as well as the negotiations we make in talking to each other. And then it was back to books.
It was a good reminder that we get stories from real life and that real life is full of stories. Thanks to these women for hosting me. I hope you all like the new book!