Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed

Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed

by Mimi Schwartz
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


In this startlingly funny and wonderfully honest book of essays, Mimi Schwartz describes what it means to be married for almost forty years. She writes with a keen and amused eye about growing up in an immigrant Jewish family, coming of age in New York in the 1950s, marrying her high school beau, and then arriving at feminist consciousness in the 1970s like so

Overview


In this startlingly funny and wonderfully honest book of essays, Mimi Schwartz describes what it means to be married for almost forty years. She writes with a keen and amused eye about growing up in an immigrant Jewish family, coming of age in New York in the 1950s, marrying her high school beau, and then arriving at feminist consciousness in the 1970s like so many others of her generation. But unlike many of her contemporaries who left first marriages for independence, Schwartz stayed loyal to her marriage.

With refreshing candor Schwartz describes the ongoing challenge of marriage, where success is never without ambivalence and humor. Her essays are wise and warm without being sentimental, and the characters in Schwartz's world are quirky and as charming, well rounded, and complex as those found in any novel.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Schwartz (Writing for Many Roles), a professor of writing at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, has collected here some 40 loosely chronological vignettes from her rather comfortable life. Reading these musings is a bit like leafing through someone's photo album here's her son's wedding, her mother-in-law's funeral, her mastectomy, her daughter's pregnancy. Apart from her bout with breast cancer and her husband's stroke, Schwartz has a reasonably happy existence, with none of the major difficulties such as abuse, divorce, disability and depression often found in memoirs. She dwells, therefore, on more mundane matters: gaining weight, her husband's medical problems, a cap she likes to wear when driving, squabbles with her husband over who forgot the road map and organizing family get-togethers. But a few gems surface amid the quotidian onslaught. Thinking back to her horseback-riding girlhood, she realizes that "tomboys who are over fifty and under ten" have similar feelings of independence and "self-containment." The single best story actually concerns her father, who grew up in a German village, ran away to join the Kaiser's army and snuck into one of Hitler's rallies before deciding that the family should flee to America. And her subtle glass-half-full outlook will appeal to Oprah's crowd: in "Negotiating Monogamy," she describes arriving at a balance "that does not necessitate leaping into someone else's bed, just the ongoing possibility of it." In spite of its attractive cover, this slim volume is unlikely to stir much general interest, although it may inspire some readers to try writing their own stories. (Feb. 14) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Brief essays about an enduring marriage, motherhood, breast cancer, and aging. Schwartz (Writing/Richard Stockton Coll.), the daughter of German immigrants, grew up in Queens in the 1950s. Ensconced in saddle shoes, plaid kilt skirts, and crew-neck sweaters, the author felt "American enough" to appreciate the survival stories told by the family: How they had outwitted the Nazis and landed in Queens. How her mother, an expert knitter, had an American job even before reaching Ellis Island. How her father swiftly bought a house with a $3.50 deposit, without even seeing the basement or the top floor. A woman of her era, Schwartz married and raised two children before beginning a career as a college professor. Even as she revels in teaching, she worries about her daughter and her 15-hour workdays: "She once invited me over for a drink and served water." The most powerful essays here deal with the author's mastectomy and her husband's heart attack: "I am not religious, I don't love ritual, so I never thought I'd be peeling apples for a Passover Seder so soon after a mastectomy. But I am. Eight days ago I was lying in Presbyterian Hospital being prepped for the removal of my left breast, and tonight I'll be dining on fine china, unused in two years, as part of a ceremony I don't have time for when I'm teaching, unless it falls on the weekend."
The New York Times

"A queen-size bed may sound roomy, but when it is shared by a couple married for 40 years, the fit can be tight. Such a bed becomes a place where thoughts—on love, negotiating a long partnership, motherhood, staying faithful—and memories flow powerfully. . . . Subjects range from Ms. Schwartz's cooking for her husband. . . . before she leaves for a conference, to dealing with a mastectomy. This being New Jersey, there are stories about driving, most notably one describing a long drive to Cape Cod, replete with arguments over who forgot the map, and other tension. As couples surely know, a car is roughly the same size as a queen-sized bed."—The New York Times
Booklist

"[A] light and sure touch." —Booklist
Jewish Book World

"Schwartz has written a gem of a book about her own marriage, it's legacies and expectations, which have evolved since she said 'I Do' in 1961: 'I never expected "I love you, I hate you" to get all mixed up,' she writes in one of 36 first-person essays that are humorous, heart-rending, candid, observant, touch us deeply, and sometimes skewer the obsessions of our time. Schwartz knows how to turn a phrase."—Joan Crespi, Jewish Book World

— Joan Crespi

Jewish Book World - Joan Crespi

"Schwartz has written a gem of a book about her own marriage, it's legacies and expectations, which have evolved since she said 'I Do' in 1961: 'I never expected "I love you, I hate you" to get all mixed up,' she writes in one of 36 first-person essays that are humorous, heart-rending, candid, observant, touch us deeply, and sometimes skewer the obsessions of our time. Schwartz knows how to turn a phrase."—Joan Crespi, Jewish Book World

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803292994
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
04/01/2003
Series:
American Lives Series
Pages:
170
Product dimensions:
0.39(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Meet the Author

Mimi Schwartz is a professor emerita of writing at Richard Stockton College. She is the author of Good Neighbors, Bad Times: Echoes of My Father's German Village and Writing True, the Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction (co-authored with Sondra Perl).

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >