A Moment of Jen
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
posted by Jen at 11/22/2005 02:27:00 PM

I just got back from the Miami Book Fair, where I had a delightful time. It was Chick Lit HQ down there. I did a panel with the very funny, extremely chic Candace Bushnell, who looked like a character out of one of her books, in a form-fitting red satin sheath and leopard-print Manolos with four-inch heels. I’m afraid that, in my lovely but slightly rumpled tunic and hot pink Easy Spirit sandals, I looked like a character out of one of my books. The woman introducing us sure seemed to think so. “Candace Bushnell writes about the glamorous, powerful denizens of New York City, while Jennifer Weiner writes about . . . ” Pause. " . . . women more like the rest of us.”

Word.

I also had dinner with Lauren Weisberger, and was lucky enough to listen to her read one of the sharpest sections of Everyone Worth Knowing, in which a PR maven expounds to her wet-behind-the-ears colleague upon the social and cultural significance of the Birkin bag.

I left before Jonathan Safran Foer took the stage – had a plane to catch – but I was impressed with the breadth and the friendliness of the book fair, the way the organizers gave everyone, from the purveyors of girls-in-crisis sex-and-shopping novels to the literary it boys and girls of the moment, a seat at the table.

The only thing that could have made it better: a little sunshine. That, and not having to listen to my daughter’s long-distance cries of “Mommy, I miss you! I want you to come home!”

That’s the the thing I'm most thankful for right now: no more travel for a while.

On the plane ride down I read Jacqueline Susann’s VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, a classic of the women's fiction world which I somehow managed to miss for the past thirty-five years, and was impressed with how smoothly written it was, and by how little seems to have changed for a certain kind of woman in a certain East Coast city. Susann’s heroines made their way in the world with and without men (mostly without them), while dealing with society’s expectations, dysfunctional families, the eternal dilemma of balancing work and family, and aging in a world that still wants its singers and stars to be forever fresh-faced, young, and thin, thinner, thinnest.

On the plane ride back I re-read SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, which was trenchant and funny and disturbing and actually referenced V of the D’s (it’s the one novel that the Tralfamadorians bring to display in their zoo, along with Billy Pilgrim).

And a book I read on another plane ride, earlier in the tour, that I’m recommending to everyone, is BE MORE CHILL, in which an uncool high-school student with a going-nowhere crush and body-image issues discovers an ingestible computer that speaks in Keanu Reeves’ voice with advice on how to behave to make friends and influence members of the opposite sex.

It sounds like chick-lit goes to high school, except the main character’s a guy (which means that one of the first things the computer tells him to do is lay off the Internet porn). It’s hilarious, and everyone I’ve told to read it has loved it.

Catching up on my readings and reviews, I was shocked – seriously, shocked! – to learn that there’s another chick-lit author out there with a terrier named Wendell.

I can practically guarantee that, at thirteen, with a standing date at the canine cardiologist’s, my Wendell preceded Jenny Lee’s. I know that imitation’s the sincerest form of flattery, but if it turns out this woman has a kid named Lucy, Wendy Wasserstein and I are both going to be worried.

Next, to answer one of the dark-horse most-asked questions from the book tour: how’s the slow cooker working out?

I had great success my first time out with this brisket recipe (cut the potatoes smaller than the recipe suggests to guarantee that they’ll cook through), but mixed results with subsequent braised lamb shanks (greasy), veal stew (lacked flavor) and lamb vindaloo (not spicy enough, which might have been my fault for wimping out on the cayenne pepper and not adding cardamom because my supermarket didn’t have any).

I’m beginning to think that the idea of starting dinner at eight in the morning, enjoying delicious food fragrances wafting through the house all day and tucking in to a home-cooked meal at night might work better in theory than in practice. I’ve got this book and this one on my holiday list, which might improve things.

Finally, if you want to listen to me talk dirty for fifty-three minutes,click here (note: I do not actually talk dirty the entire time, but you probably won't want to play this at work, or in front of young children).

That’s all until next week. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Welcome to A Moment of Jen, author Jennifer Weiner's constantly-updated take on books, baby, and news of the world. Email me at jen (a) jenniferweiner.com.

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