A Moment of Jen
THE NEXT BEST THING — In Stores July 3rd!

Monday, September 24, 2007
posted by Jen at 9/24/2007 08:55:00 AM

You know you’re in a bad way (or at least getting toward the uncomfortable end-stage of your pregnancy) when everything in the newspaper pisses you off.

The New York Times wrote about Tina Fey’s Emmy win, how her show triumphed over the much-favored Aaron Sorkin drama that covered the same ground, and whether or not she is WRACKED WITH GUILT because she keeps “the hours of a Wall Street investment banker” and leaves her two-year-old with caregivers.

Raise your hand if you can remember the last male show-runner, investment banker or hedge-fund manager who, on the eve of a major triumph, got asked whether he was WRACKED WITH GUILT for putting in the hours that his job demands.

Yeah, me neither.

Then the Times Book Review unveils its brand-new bifurcated bestseller list, where mass-market paperbacks are strictly segregated from trade paperbacks.

Why the switch? Quoth the Times, the new list “gives more emphasis to the literary novels and short-story collections reviewed so often in our pages (and sometimes published only in softcover).”

“Among the novelists who appear there: Cormac McCarthy, Anne Tyler and Richard Powers,” says senior Editor Dwight Garner.

Among the other novelists who appear there: Nicholas Sparks (twice), Jodi Picoult, Debbie Macomber, who writes romance, and Karen Kingsbury, who writes Christian romance.

I am also compelled to point out that the only short-story collection on the list is mine.

But never mind that! Nothing to see here! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

I have to wonder: if the Times is so disdainful of popular tastes, to the point where editors find it impossible to even mention the names of bestselling authors and felt compelled to devise a whole new list to show that the books they approve of are actually selling, why print a bestseller list at all?

Why not simply expand the “new in paperback” and "new and noteworthy" lists of the books the Times editors think people should be reading, and completely ignore the books that they actually are?

But then I remembered the reason. Actually, then I flipped through the book review and saw whose publishers were buying big ads…and it wasn’t Times darlings like Messud and McCarthy and Kiran Desai.

Tess Gerritsen’s publisher had sprung for a full-page ad, as had the good people publishing Augusten Burrough’s brother’s memoir. The self-publishing companies are usually good for a full-page ad, as are the folks peddling those high-brow, soft-focus sex videos for people who don't want to purchase actual porn.

The prestigious stuff gets the love, the popular stuff pays the bills, and that will never change.

It’s just amusing to watch the book review do contortions to avoid even the mention of a James Patterson or Sara Gruen, or chick lit or romance, as if they’re worried their keyboards would catch fire if they broadened their horizons a bit.

(And I am not even touching the completely gratuitous, bordering-on-nonsensical reaming that Toni Bentley gave Katha Pollitt. I’m writing a letter to the editor about that.)

Anyhow. Here is a story in the Baltimore Sun about the funny things that happen on book tours.

I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon in Buffalo meeting with the book club that won me in the “Guy Not Taken” contest. Good food, excellent conversation. No wings, though, and no good baby names.

Yes, I’ve now gotten to the point where I’m interrogating everyone I meet. What’s your name? What are your kids’ names? What’s that? Your sister-in-law just had a baby? What did she name it? Oh, really? And did she have any alternate names that are now available?

Meanwhile, now that we’re closing in on the arrival of the Baby with No Name, I am trying to figure out my stroller options. None of them seem ideal.

Basically, Lucy’s out of the stroller, unless we’re walking farther than, say, a mile, or going to the grocery store. I am sure there are women who can handle a purse, a few bags of groceries and a four-year-old at the same time. I am not that woman.

The girl is a pretty good walker, and, thanks to the many articles I’ve read about city kids who stay in strollers long past the point when they should be getting around on their own, I’ve been pretty diligent about getting her to walk.

However, I think there will be days when the girl and the baby and I will be going farther than Lucy's legs can take her.

My plan is to have the baby in some kind of sling/front carrier situation and have the girl hold my hand, but if we’re out and about and going farther than a few blocks or doing any kind of shopping, we’ll need a stroller to carry baby and stuff.

I don’t think we need a double stroller, but I could be wrong. What I think we need is a new newborn-friendly stroller with one of those cool little skateboard-y attachments on the back for the girl to stand on when she gets tired.

I also have a friend with a four-year-old and a one-year-old who swears by the Joovy, but it looks kind of cumbersome, and I'm not sure I'm going to end up pushing both kids frequently enough to justify the purchase.

(Then, of course, there's the ongoing and contentious do-we-buy-the-new-baby-a-Bugaboo-if-we-still-have-a-perfectly-good-MacLaren debate. More on that later).
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