Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings

I recently wrote a review of Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings for the Buffalo News...a big novel that elegantly handles some of the most significant issues of the late 20th century. A vigilant energy gives “The Interestings” its architecture without weighing it in earnest psychological drama (though there’s plenty of it) or conceptual musing (though there’s plenty of that too). That Wolitzer takes up issues of women's writing elsewhere in her essay "The Second Shelf" lends her work, and the book itself, a bigger context. Check her out....

Wolitzer Gracefully Juggles Big Questions in ‘Interestings’
Buffalo News, May 3, 2013
In her provocative 2012 New York Times essay, “The Second Shelf,” Meg Wolitzer reflects on the conditions that surround the publication of women’s fiction: namely, the editorial and marketing strategies that position women’s books and shape readers’ expectations of them. “Women who write literary fiction,” she reflects, “frequently find themselves in an unjust world … when we talk about today’s leading novelists – the ones who generate heat and conversation and are read by both men and women – we are talking mostly about men.” Wolitzer has good reason to wonder about the impact of gender on the publishing world, an issue that’s “raised temperatures” in the news of late. (Wikipedia was discovered just last week “redistributing” women novelists to a “subset” category, making their “American Novelists” listing homogenously male.)

Having written nine novels over the past 20 years (in addition to a few young adult and nonfiction works), Wolitzer’s repertoire has generally formed around the peculiarity and inconstancy of our most private spheres: our homes and relationships, the complexities of intimacy, our identities behind closed doors. It’s not too much to say that she’s been channeled as a writer for women, though her work is often incisive, sometimes even downright cutting, ambitious in scope, and driven by a peculiarly earnest irony in her descriptions of the tandem paths men and women follow in a state of ongoing incomprehension.

See the rest of the review at The Buffalo News here: