The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship (2 Cassettes)


Jacquelyn Mitchard reaches for heart and mind simultaneously, with both wit and nostalgia but never with sentimentality. Whether writing of gun laws and garage sales, the loneliness of the long-haul single mother, fear of gardening, or the late great American game of baseball, Mitchard stresses the personal stake each of us has in the stand-up drama of daily life. The single mother of five children, she shares her own family's dramas and epiphanies - her own mother's tradition of optimism based on nothing, the ...
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Jacquelyn Mitchard reaches for heart and mind simultaneously, with both wit and nostalgia but never with sentimentality. Whether writing of gun laws and garage sales, the loneliness of the long-haul single mother, fear of gardening, or the late great American game of baseball, Mitchard stresses the personal stake each of us has in the stand-up drama of daily life. The single mother of five children, she shares her own family's dramas and epiphanies - her own mother's tradition of optimism based on nothing, the early death of her husband, the adoption of her baby daughter - as well as the great wheeling issues that confound 1990s Americans every day. If Jacquelyn Mitchard wore a T-shirt, it would say, "What are you waiting for?" Along with only a few writers of our time - Judith Viorst, Anna Quindlen, Erma Bombeck - Jacquelyn Mitchard is able to concoct a graceful blend of humor, vinegar and eloquence that reminds us that no matter how we change or how far we range, we are all "the rest of us."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mitchard, a speechwriter, editor and novelist (The Deep End of the Ocean), has collected selections from her weekly newspaper column written for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel over the last 12 years. Her entertaining and thought-provoking commentaries on life as a working mother of five cover a variety of subjects. Women will identify with her witty essay "Giving Holidays to the Turkeys," on celebrations like Thanksgiving, which men regard as "relaxing" while their wives toil in the kitchen. Many pieces discuss experiences inherent in motherhood, such as whether, or when, to lie to one's children. Mitchard also presents her strong opinions on current topics, including assisted suicide, adoption, meat eating and gun control. Of particular interest, however, is a moving article, "A Star to Steer By," written after the death of her 45-year-old husband from cancer. Author tour. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
A beguiling collection of sometimes insightful, often amusing columns from a mother of five who is also a widow, a bestselling author, and not Erma Bombeck.

There is no question that the late Bombeck is missed for her heartfelt and pungent commentaries. But the void that she has left does not have to be filled by an Erma manqué. Mitchard, author of the novel that Oprah turned into a bestseller, The Deep End of the Ocean (1996), is of another generation and another lifestyle, the now-single mother, one of whose children was adopted after her husband died. Her syndicated newspaper column is in some ways the shallow end of her ocean, although it deals with concerns that she will undoubtedly address in greater depth in future novels. The author proclaims that she and her audience are all those women who are not Martha Stewart, not the girlfriend who was both calculus prodigy and cheerleader, but "the rest of us." The column, she says, has been her anchor, the quasi-diary in which she begins to confront the questions of, for instance, death and adoption, both for herself and her children. But she also reflects on—and occasionally skewers—such concerns as women's magazines that herald make-work crafts (elves from detergent bottles) versus men's magazines that deal with really useful stuff (building shelves, repairing light fixtures), being expelled from the car pool, and meeting the mother of the baby you are about to adopt. Some of her reflections are funny, some aim for the jugular, some are genuinely moving, like those on life as a widow.

Cherry-picked from newspaper columns, this collection is necessarily formulaic in style and uneven in content. Read it, nevertheless: It's written by a woman who dredges for what matters.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402871375
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: 2 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 4.41 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacquelyn Mitchard
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Tackling themes of death, grief, and emotional turmoil without lapsing into cheap sentimentality, Jacquelyn Mitchard has made a career of pulling the heartstrings without patronizing her readers. With her debut novel The Deep End of the Ocean, the first book ever to be featured in Oprah’s Book Club, Mitchard began a career distinguished by intelligent and entertaining explorations of life’s darkest moments.


"Jacquelyn Mitchard has considered changing her name legally to The Deep End of the Ocean. This is because her own name is much less well-known than the title of her first book," so read the opening lines of Mitchard's biography on her web site. Granted, the writer is best known for the novel that holds the distinct honor of being the very first pick in Oprah Winfrey's book club, but Mitchard is also responsible for a number of other bestsellers, all baring her distinctive ability to tackle emotional subject matter without lapsing into cloying sentimentality.

Mitchard got her start as a newspaper journalist in the ‘70s, but first established herself as a writer to watch in 1985 when she published Mother Less Child, a gut wrenching account of her own miscarriage. Though autobiographical in nature, Mother Less Child introduced the themes of grief and coping that would often resurface in her fiction. These themes were particularly prevalent in the debut novel that would nab Mitchard her greatest notoriety. The Deep End of the Ocean tells of the depression that grips a woman and her son following the disappearance of her younger son. Like Mother Less Child, the novel was also based on a personal tragedy, the death of her husband, and the author's very real grief contributes to the emotional authenticity of the book.

The Deep End of the Ocean became a commercial and critical smash, lauded by every publication from People Magazine to Newsweek. It exemplified Mitchard's unique approach to her subject. In lesser hands, such a story might have sunk into precious self-reflection. However Mitchard approaches her story as equal parts psychological drama and suspenseful thriller. "I like to read stories in which things happen," she told Book Reporter. "I get very impatient with books that are meditations - often beautiful ones - on a single character's thoughts and reactions. I like a story that roller coasters from one event to the next, peaks and valleys."

The Deep End of the Ocean undoubtedly changed Mitchard's life. She was still working part time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison writing speeches when the novel got Oprah's seal of approval and went into production as a major motion picture starring Michelle Pfeiffer. She didn't even consider leaving her job until, as she recounted to Book, "my boss finally said to me, ‘You know, kiddo, people whose books have sold this many copies and are being made into movies don't have this part-time job.'" So, she left her job despite misgivings and embarked upon a writing career that would produce such powerful works as The Most Wanted, Twelve Times Blessed, and The Breakdown Lane. She has also written two non-fictional volumes about peace activist Jane Addams.

Mitchard's latest Cage of Stars tells of Veronica Swan, a twelve-year old girl living in a Mormon community whose life is completely upturned when her sisters are murdered. Again, a story of this nature could have easily played out as a banal tear jerker, but Mitchard allows Veronica to take a more active role in the novel, setting out to avenge the death of her sisters. Consequently, Case of Stars is another example of Mitchard's ability to turn the tables on convention and produce a story with both emotional resonance and a page-turning narrative, making for a novel created with the express purpose of pleasing her fans. "Narrative is not in fashion in the novels of our current era; reflection is," she told Book Reporter. "But buying a book and reading it is a substantial investment of time and money. I want to take readers on a journey full circle. They deserve it."

Good To Know

Mitchard is certainly most famous for her sophisticated adult novels, yet she has also written two children's novels, Rosalie and Starring Prima, as well as Baby Bat's Lullaby, a picture book. She currently has three new children's books in development.

Now that Mitchard has officially scored a successful writing career, what could be left for the writer to achieve? Well, according to her web site, her "truest ambition" is to make an appearance on the popular TV show Law and Order.

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Table of Contents

On Catching a Dream 3
Guys and Dolls 6
Little Men and Little Women 8
A Stand-up Mom 11
No Time for Lamb Cakes 14
Loneliness of the Long-Distance Talker 16
Dare to Say "Underwear" 18
An Elf Is Just an Elf 21
The Martha's Out to Lunch 24
Do Pigs Go to Heaven? 27
Honey. It's Not Over Till I Say So 30
It's a Jungle Gym Out There 33
Love on the Hard Shell 36
My Son the Warrior 39
Lost: One Best Friend 41
All the Little Live Things 43
Give Them a Mile and They'll Go the Distance 45
My Angels in the Outfield 48
Where the Deer and the Squirrels Display 50
When You're Out with the In Crowd 53
Out of the Mouths of Babes 55
Pencil Me In, Son 58
In a Heartbeat, New Life 63
When I Lost My Security Blanket 66
A Cheesehead Lament 69
The Dark Side of the Road 71
How Now, the Vanishing Cow 73
Bonfire of the Insanities 75
A Quiet Place, and Green 78
The Place Where Magic Lives 80
The Mother of My Child 85
The Last First Birthday 92
Trusting the Kindness of Strangers 95
The Truth About That Perfect Shot 97
One Carpool, Minus One Mom 100
Enter the Cowboy 103
Little House of Life Lessons 105
Tragedy in a Bottle 107
Just the Truth, Kids, Not the Facts 109
Better Scared Than Scarred 115
Marking Time 118
The Mothers in Us All 121
A Day That Will Live In Infancy 123
The Late Great Me 129
Love Is Not a Warm Puppy 133
Tomorrow (or Tomorrow or Tomorrow) 136
A Star to Steer By 139
One Giant Step for Womankind 146
Family by Accident and Choice 149
Friendships Worth Fighting For 152
Who's Right? Who's Wrong? Who's Mom? 157
Rude and Unusual Punishment 159
The Long Shadow of Dr. Death 162
What She Did for Love 164
A Farewell to Football 167
An Abuse of Faith 170
My Best Buds, the Brontes 172
The Citadel: Disgrace Under Pressure 175
Daddy Got His Gun 178
Good-bye, My Ghosts 183
True Tales of the Kissing Patrol 185
When a Victory Garden Isn't 188
Tupperware Is Life 190
The Power Towel 193
Sorting Out a Life 195
The Pied Piper of Madison 199
All Through the Night 202
Home Cooking in the Drive-Through Lane 204
The Worms Crawl in - My House? 207
Twinkle, Twinkle, Musical Stars of Mine 209
A Dad for All Reasons 215
To Forgive, But Not Forget 218
Someday, They'll Thank Me for This 221
Giving Holidays to the Turkeys 223
Let There Be Lights 226
Just Before Dark 228
Each Day's Joy 230
The Quality of Mercy Is Still Strained 232
The Great Green Garage Sale 235
Death Takes a Holiday 237
The Sheer Joy of Nothing Much 239
The Christmas Nobody Wanted 242
Epilogue: The Prime of Miss Late Bloomer 246
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