Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life

Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life

4.3 19
by Kyran Pittman

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Introducing a writer with a keen eye, a wicked tongue, and an appealing take on family.

In the family of Jen Lancaster and Elizabeth Gilbert, Kyran Pittman is the laid-back middle sister: warm and witty and confiding, with an addictively smart and genuine voice-but married with three kids and living in the heartland. Relatable and real, she writes

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Introducing a writer with a keen eye, a wicked tongue, and an appealing take on family.

In the family of Jen Lancaster and Elizabeth Gilbert, Kyran Pittman is the laid-back middle sister: warm and witty and confiding, with an addictively smart and genuine voice-but married with three kids and living in the heartland. Relatable and real, she writes about family in a way that highlights all its humor, while at the same time honoring its depth.

A regular contributor to Good Housekeeping, Pittman is well loved because she is funny and honest and self-deprecating, because her own household is in chaos ("semi-domesticated"), and because she inspires readers in their own domestic lives. In these eighteen linked, chronological essays, Pittman covers the first twelve years of becoming a family, writing candidly and hilariously about things like learning to maintain a marriage over time; dealing with the challenges of sex after childbirth; saying good-bye to her younger self and embracing the still attractive, forty-year-old version; and trying to "recession- proof" her family (i.e., downsize to avoid foreclosure).

From a fresh new talent, celebrating the joys and trials of a new generation of parents, Planting Dandelions is an entertaining tribute to choosing the white-picket fence over the other options available, even if you don't manage to live up to its ideals every day.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pittman's voice is like that of a close girlfriend: warm, funny, conspiratorial, and up for talking about anything. Pittman, a Good Housekeeping contributor, shares 18 essays about being a wife and mother (of three boys) who alternately dives into and shrinks back from those roles. She skillfully and honestly explores "the possibility of settling down without settling for," mixing funny anecdotes with thoughtful musings, plus plenty of looks back at the woman she was and has become, for better or worse. A recurring theme: she repeatedly returns to the demise of her first marriage and writes of her own surprise at her 13 years of monogamy with her second husband (for whom she left the first). While she writes of that time with regret and some sympathy, she also calls herself an "adulterous whore"; it's unclear whether she has—or will ever—forgive herself. Standout essays include "Penis Ennui," about what it's like to be the lone female in her household, and "Me, the People," in which she winningly recounts her physical and emotional journey from Newfoundland native to American citizen. (Apr.)
In this wry, warts-and-all memoir, Good Housekeeping contributing writer Kyran Pittman offers up snapshots from her life, and she is nothing if not very, very human. We're barely into the first chapter of Planting Dandelions when she reveals that she cheated on her first husband. Later in the book, she writes about very nearly cheating on her second husband, and she is equally candid on plenty of other topics, including nearly losing their house to foreclosure.

Yet this confessional tone is balanced with her clear affection for family life in all its messiness. Now a mommy of three, Pittman is just as passionate when writing about life in suburbia as when musing on postpartum sex.

"The slope of my nutritive backslide can be plotted by each of my kids' first birthday cakes," she writes. "When the oldest turned one, I made him a whole wheat carrot cake with pineapple-sweetened cream cheese on top. Two years later, it was a homemade chocolate layer cake, frosted with buttercream, for my middle child. Three years after that, I ran by the warehouse club and picked up a slab of corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil, spray-painted blue, for the baby."

Being a mom isn't always (or even usually) glamorous, but Pittman recognizes the beauty of family life in this interesting, funny and fresh entry in the mommy memoir genre.

Kirkus Reviews

Crisp, witty dispatches from the domestic front by a former wild child.

Good Housekeeping contributing writer Pittman offers 18 chronologically assembled essays detailing the genesis of her life as a devoted wife and mother in the wake of a crushing divorce and numerous dalliances. From the opening chapter, the author establishes a refreshingly candid writing style, unapologetically describing her earlier years as an unbridled woman, seemingly incapable of fidelity. While unemployed and estranged from her first husband, the author began a serious relationship with Patrick, who she met on the Internet, yet cheated with a man from a poetry slam. Patrick forgave her, but insisted she remain devoted to building a monogamous life together. Pittman writes passionately about refocusing her efforts on finding employment and finally marrying Patrick, though freely admitting she "never really belonged inside the white picket fence." Subsequent pieces amusingly fall into place, weaving together scenes from the author's entertaining and informative journey through happily married, stay-at-home motherhood. Major trepidation about the birthing process begat terminal shortcomings in domesticity, organization and life management, which, Pittman declares, could be the result of her childhood or the fact that "homemaking is not my forte." Serious rough patches in their marriage and finances are leavened with the author's comic comprehension of sex after childbirth and the compulsion to wear Spanx.

The author writes with an acerbic intellect, blending self-deprecation with reflective back-patting into cohesive life stories that are relatable and, thankfully, usually funny.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.74(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Neal Pollack
Kyran Pittman's searingly honest confessionals, and her expert wit, should serve as a model and inspiration for all the former 'bad girls' who've crossed over into motherhood. (Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad )
Julie Klam
Kyran Pittman is a warm, honest, very funny writer. I loved her book. (Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof)
Amy Sohn
Kyran Pittman is a fresh new voice in non-fiction—honest, intimate, and thoroughly smart. Her self-perception and integrity make us cheer her on as she goes through her domestic trials—and at the same time feel confident that she will emerge from them unscathed. I highly recommend this book. (Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West)

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