Good in Bed

Good in Bed

Good in Bed

Jennifer Weiner

Simon and Schuster Digital Sales.   2002.  400 pgs.

Other books by Jennifer Weiner:  not too sure, but her website is chockful of info about the author, a former reporter and short-story writer: I haven’t read any of them and am not likely to.

I will freely admit I’m a sucker for Amazon recommendations.  Sucker to the extent that I actually do check out the books that my friends at Amazon point out whenever I log in.  However, I must be getting soft because when the Amazon algorithms relentlessly informed me, week after week, that I really, really would like Good in Bed, I actually downloaded it.  My God, what will I do next for Amazon?  The possibilities do not bear thinking about.

Good in Bed is about a plus-sized woman finding fulfillment in a Jenny Craig and Weight-Watchers obsessed world.  We’re talking size 16 here — not the morbidly obese world of  The Biggest Loser.  The book has a lot of the trademark touches of chick lit genre — a weirdly cute and tiny dog, a clutch of quirky but admirable women friends and some semi-tragic family dysfunctions.  Men don’t come off so well in this read.  There is the “original abandoner” — a cruel and cold father (a plastic surgeon, no less) who left the heroine and her family emotionally, financially and legally deserted.  Next comes a completely despicable and worthless ex-boyfriend who uses the heroine as material for a magazine column entitled:  Loving a Larger Woman.   This betrayal triggers a series of dramatic and semi-fantastical events for the main character:  she sells a screenplay and meets a movie actress who inexplicably (to me, anyway) becomes her fairy godmother, she confronts the father who abandoned her, she becomes accidentally pregnant by the loser who has betrayed her publicly in his magazine column, and she meets a weight-loss doctor who will cure her of much more than eating disorders.  Weiner has a deft hand with dialogue and the book chirps along pleasantly and predictably to a resolution of all of these tragedies– and an actually moving conclusion.   My primary criticism is that I started wondering if I was reading a novel or a memoir?   Weiner really banged on and on about how awful the abandoning dad was—it seemed unnecessary to me in order to advance the story.  But on balance, Good in Bed was a fun read that I would recommend for your beach bag or airport lounge read.  Probably Good for snuggling up in Bed with, as well!

Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres cover A Thousand Acres

Jane Smiley

Fawcett Columbine.  1991.  371 pgs.

Other books I’ve read by Jane Smiley:  The Greenlanders and Ten Days in the Hills.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1992.

Guardian 1000 Challenge:  Family and Self Titles

I don’t think I have the skill or insight to add another word that hasn’t been written about this masterpiece.  Not that this stops me from blogging about it!  I guess I have to start out by saying:  this is a book I appreciated much more than I enjoyed.  Smiley re-creates the story of King Lear and his daughters in the tale of a modern farm family as they reach a decision about the future ownership of the one thousand acres in their keeping.  As you dig further into the story, and start to sort out the disturbing currents swirling around the various family members — especially the domineering father and his three daughters –we learn that the ownership of the land is not all that it seems.  It was achieved through great exploitation — of daughter by father, and of the land itself.  We learn that domination and exploitation eventually reap a bitter harvest —  through industrial poisoning as well as poisoned bodies, hearts and minds.  This is a great book, but certainly not a easy one.  Smiley’s prose is so masterful that she carries you along skillfully, carefully peeling your hands off your eyes to show you truths that are pretty hard to take.  In the end, I think what I took away from A Thousand Acres was the realization that some actions have irrevocable consequences and some crimes — whether to the earth or to people — can never be forgiven.