Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

For the most part I enjoyed this semi-comic novel about women whose kids are growing out of their dependent stages, and one of my favorite aspects was the way Wolitzer periodically broke out of the box of the expected structure. At the novel's center is a group of four women friends, but Wolitzer feels free to sometimes pull back and write semi-grand lyric sentences about women in general (e.g. the opening line: "All around the country, the women were waking up.") and also to write occasional short chapters that follow a woman only tangentially related to the central characters (these include their mothers but also Margaret Thatcher's personal assistant, Magritte's wife, and Nadia Comaneci). While the specific stories of the main characters obviously stand for the lives of many women of today and readers could certainly have extrapolated that on their own--I thought many of the novel's most surprising moments came from those times when Wolitzer illustrated their stories with these out-of-the-box add ons. It's a good reminder that novels don't have to be story-tight.

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