Self-skewering, bawdy, wickedly funny tales of an unknown writer, married to a famous one, looking back on his ridiculous mistakes.
Publishers WeeklyLoosely structured around the events of, and leading up to, his marriage to writer Marge Piercy, this humorous essay collection by novelist Wood (The Kitchen Man) reflects a passionate literary life textured by success, marred by failure and insecurities, and speckled with humiliation. Wood favors a conversational tone as he riffs on his past as an overweight teenager who tries to impress a crush with the lie that his parents are dead; as a cocaine-addled 30-something whose short-lived addiction brings a bump in productivity, but a decline in sexual prowess; as a smalltown politician facing a hefty prison sentence; and, in the bizarre and winning “Heartsong of the Warrior, Inc.,” as a middle-aged trainee participating in a course designed to teach men how to “connect with the lost masculine power within.” Piercy, a celebrated novelist and poet who, Wood notes, is closer in age to his mother than to him, figures prominently in only three essays (though she appears throughout), making her a curious yet affectionate choice as the connecting thread. While mostly charming and witty, thanks to Wood’s intimate tone and keen gift of observation, the essays suffer from off-balance narration, peculiar pacing, and dropped endings, with many of the most interesting or harrowing recollections veering close to an act of saving face, stifling rather than illuminating the strangeness of growing up as a writer. (Aug.)
Kirkus ReviewsA slim yet raucous romp through a novelist's life. Spanning several decades, with sex as the undercurrent that ties these essays together, Wood (Going Public, 1991, etc.) amusingly exposes his adolescent, marital and extramarital exploits. "I laughed at guys who drove hundred-fifty-thousand-dollar Mercedes," he writes. "I viewed fitness fetishists as lumpy bags of rock. Mansions, advanced degrees, academic prizes, were as foolish a way to prove oneself as a trophy room full of rhinoceros heads…It was obvious to me that the one who dies with the most sex wins." Determined to prove this point to readers, Wood wittily interweaves his sex life with his work as a writer, art teacher, book publisher, small-town government official and husband to writer Marge Piercy, with whom he has authored two books (So You Want to Write, 2001, etc.). Wood also self-deprecatingly divulges his youthful indiscretions, including the blatant lie to his first lover that his parents were dead, his dalliances with cocaine and his contraction of chlamydia. He reveals his testy confrontations with his parents and the ill feelings caused by his representation of his mother in a novel, which remained a sore spot for years. Fortunately, maturity and a long-term relationship stabilized his life. Although Wood writes that "sex is more interesting than writing," he has successfully combined both in this bawdy bit of self-scrutiny. Saucy, sexy stories of a young writer's life.
- Leapfrog Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
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