Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Five Reasons I'm a Fan of Jennifer Weiner

Back when we were in college and young college graduates, my old roommate Carol (bet my newer readers and friends didn't know my roommate was a UU minister! Yes, I swear this was at Brandeis!) worked at a local Booksmith, where she had the opportunity to peruse all of the advance reader copies of novels as they came through the door. As soon as she began reading new writer Jennifer Weiner's "Good In Bed," she knew she had to set it aside for me. This was in 2002, and I have been a  fan of Weiner's work ever since, from her early blog posts to her prolific tweeting about "The Bachelor." She just released her tenth book, and tonight I went to the Boston Public Library to see her deliver an author talk.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, Weiner is one of those celebrities that I know a little too much about. But - it's her own fault. And that's because so much of her is in her writing. There are fleeting references in her characters and stories that just ring so true that you know they have to be real. And for me, those moments end up mirroring back my own life, whether it's the baby sleeping with its tush poked high up in the air, or the need to be so efficient in life that even the silverware is sorted by type when it's in the dishwasher (well, okay, I'm not *that* bad - but I kinda wish I was).

So while I'd encourage you to pick up any of her books and start reading along, here are five reasons why I've grown to love Weiner so much over the years.

1) Her lead female characters are often overweight. And since that has been me, forever and always, it's a really wonderful thing to read about. But these characters are also strong, confident, intelligent, and beautiful (which I hope, forever and always, has been me too). There's never this sense of weight not being an issue either - there is a lot of straight discussion about how that feels, and how it would really impact a character's choices. Oh, and they all still exercise.
2) Her lead characters are often Jewish. Hello, fellow Members of the Tribe! Her characters are Jewish enough to never forget it, but not so Jewish that I don't know what they're talking about. Bar mitzvahs and seders and shiva calls are all central events in their lives, and I can mark the passage of time in my life by those events too.
3) Weiner is a working mother. While she was single when her first book came out, over the years she's gotten married and had two daughters just a bit older than my kids. Not only has this not stopped her from having a very prolific writing career, but she also produced a TV show for ABC Family last summer. In all of her books, she acknowledges her babysitters, and I like to think that if I was ever honored in some way professionally, I would do the same.
4) She'll take on the New York Times, and anyone else not putting women on the same playing field. Weiner has always railed against the fluffy pinkness of "chick lit" and anyone who doesn't think her books deserve the same accolades, articles and reviews that other fiction enjoys. I really admire that she's willing to call people out on their entrenched biases.
5) She'll let you in on the bits of celebrity she encounters along the way. While I'm sure her everyday writing life isn't all that glamorous, when she has the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary, she shares it. She'll dish about wearing hair extensions and what it's like in the green room at The Today Show, but does so with this feeling that she can't really believe it's all happening to her.

So yea, I wish she was my friend in real life. And that we could go out for drinks together with my favorite Salon.com writer or that she'd text my husband to get me out of some household chore.

Anyway...who do you know a little too much about, and wish was your BFF?

Edited to add on August 22, 2012:

Unfortunately, I need to add a final note on this piece. To say I'm heartbroken doesn't overstate my feelings on the matter, as it's been a week since I found out some news, and I can't stop thinking about it. While Jennifer has been transparent on so many parts of her life, there is a portion that she has left out, and to me, it's an important part of the story. While a lot of what I wrote above is still true, what I know now colors her, in a way I can't condone. 

I've never written something like the above before, where I sound like such a gushy fan girl, and I have learned my lesson. No one is perfect, and I'm ashamed that I made it seem like she is.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! I was in front of you at the signing. (My mother was directly behind you.) It was nice to meet you. I am really enjoying your blog!