At age 22, Wolitzer made her debut in the critically praised novel Sleepwalking; her second book is another singular feat. Shifting unobtrusively from the viewpoint of each character, the narrative creates empathy for those involved in an unconventional situation. Although married to attractive, uxorious physician David Giovanni and mother to a baby she adores, Laura is inexplicably dissatisfied, relieved when David sadly consents to a divorce. Meeting Julia Price, Laura recognizes her own hitherto unsuspected lesbianism, and she enters into an affair that lasts until Julia ends it abruptly. Later, a permanent attachment to Jane Bloom means explaining to David and risking his demand for custody of their son Ian, now growing up in a household with the two women in an unsanctioned relationship. But David is gratifyingly agreeable, and Laura is able to find serenity and contentment. Although there is little real conflict in this novel, the characters Wolitzer brings to life with rare insight compel one's complete absorption. (May 14)
In this well-written tale, a young New Yorker negotiates her way through a semi-somnolent marriage and a period of single motherhood, eventually attaining a fulfilling relationship with a woman and a home on suburban Long Island. Settled there, Laura thinks of herself, her lover, and her child as ``thrown together by default, by some accident. Their household was built of spare partswomen and children only, the survivors of a sunken boat . . . .'' The story is about hard choices, and survivors: Laura's ex-husband remarries and becomes more humane; her son learns to cope with a society that openly disapproves of his mother's homosexuality. The implication is that few people can find peace in a life like that of Laura's parents, who have grown old together contentedly, if mundanely. True or not on this point, the book provides a realistic, sympathetic perspective on sexual alternatives and contemporary living. Laurie Spector Sullivan, Regis Coll. Archives, Weston, Mass.
Not one to dally, Meg Wolitzer graduated from Brown University in 1981 -- and published her debut novel, Sleepwalking, the following year. Since then, she's written several more novels, as well as short stories and screenplays, and has taught writing at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and Skidmore College.
Meg Wolitzer grew up around books. Her mother, Hilma Wolitzer, published two novels while Meg was still in school, and weekly trips to the library were a ritual the entire family looked forward to. Not surprisingly, Meg served as editor for her junior high and high school literary magazines. She graduated from Brown University in 1981. One year later, she published her debut novel, Sleepwalking, the story of three college girls bonded by an unhealthy fascination with suicidal women poets. It marked the beginning of a successful writing career that shows no sign of slacking.
Over the years, Wolitzer has proven herself a deft chronicler of intense, unconventional relationships, especially among women. She has explored with wit and sensitivity the dynamics of fractured families (This Is Your Life, The Position); the devastating effects of death (Surrender, Dorothy), the challenges of friendship (Friends for Life), and the prospective minefield of gender, identity, and dashed expectations (Hidden Pictures, The Wife, The Ten-Year Nap).
In addition to her bestselling novels, Wolitzer has written a number of screenplays. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize, and she has also taught writing at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and at Skidmore College.
Good To Know
In our exclusive interview, Wolitzer shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself:
"First of all, I am obsessed with playing Scrabble. It relaxes me between fits of writing, and I play online, in a bizarro world of anonymous, competitive players. It's my version of smoking or drinking -- a guilty pleasure. The thing is, I love words, anagrams, wordplay, cryptic crossword puzzles, and anything to do with the language."
"I also love children's books, and feel a great deal of nostalgia for some of them from my own childhood (Harriet the Spy and The Phantom Tollbooth among others) as well as from my children's current lives. I have an idea for a kids' book that I might do someday, though right now my writing schedule is full up."
"Humor is very important to me in life and work. I take pleasure from laughing at movies, and crying at books, and sometimes vice versa. I also have recently learned that I like performing. I think that writers shouldn't get up at a reading and give a dull, chant-like reading from their book. They should perform; they should do what they need to do to keep readers really listening. I've lately had the opportunity to do some performing on public radio, as well as singing with a singer I admire, Suzzy Roche, formerly of the Roches, a great group that started in 1979. Being onstage provides a dose of gratification that most writers never get to experience."
"But mostly, writing a powerful novel -- whether funny or serious, or of course both -- is my primary goal. When I hear that readers have been affected by something I've written, it's a relief. I finally have come to no longer fear that I'm going to have to go to law school someday...."