Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Manless In Montclair - The Genre Of Memoirs

It is rare that I will do a book review here at Cobwebs Of The Mind. And in truth the following book review for Manless in Montclair: How a Happily Married Woman Became a Widow Looking for Love in the Wilds of Suburbia is not so much due to the nature of the book but the story behind it. Let me be a bit clearer. Not the story in the book itself, which is basically a fictionalized account of the true story of Author, Amy Holman Edelman. It is due to the way one woman was able to take her own life experience and parlay that into a book which has garnered a great deal of interest.

In 2001, Amy Edelman went out one day, she returned to her home to find out she had become a widow with her husband's sudden death. At that point Amy did not give up on life, which is something very tempting to do. After a few years Amy decided it was time to try and find a relatinship which would lead to marriage. The story of this quest is documented in Manless in Montclair.

What I want to bring to the attention of readers of Cobwebs Of The Mind is the ingenuity and perhaps even gumption of how Amy turned an event into her life into a book, which is actually a memoir but a fictionalized one. The message here is there are stories everywhere, if you are willing to let the world read about your most intimate thoughts. The genre of memoir is usually reserved for the famous and infamous. However, even in this genre, one can turn around and find that specific niche and idea which will enter the market in a positive way. And while I certainly do not wish upon anyone the events which took place in Amy Edelman's life, it is an education for writers who are sifting through ideas and possibilities on what to write and how to write it.

It is true though one must be careful in this genre. You should have a story and a message. Few people want to read a fictionalized account of how wise your grandparents were. To be incredibly crass but completely realistic, tragedy sells, but it has to be written in a way which interests many people, and something the public at large can relate to. And again it is worth repeating, once you decide to go down this path, you must be willing to lay your soul bare and express its pain as well as the joy. If you cannot do this, memoir writing is just not for you.

The following is a review up at Amazon on the book by Jamie Driggers.

When Isabel went out to get her teeth whitened, she didn't know that she would return to a life she couldn't recognize. Husbands shouldn't die unexpectedly, leaving their happily married wives as widows. And young daughters shouldn't request a new daddy for Chanukah. Where is a suburban woman supposed to find love when she thought she was out of the dating pool for good?

Manless in Montclair is a fictionalized account of Amy Holman Edelman's own journey. Sudden widowhood was bad enough, but finding a new daddy for her girls through 21st Century dating had its own challenges. When internet dating, dating services and speed dating didn't work, she tried an email blast offering a free trip to the person who found her next husband.

In a journey back and forth through time, from dating her husband, through their relationship to his sudden death, we get to know what makes Isabel tick. She isn't just another woman desperate for a man; she is a mother desperate to honor her daughter's wishes. You have to laugh at her antics while also feeling sorry for her situation.

I admit that the time travel in the beginning of the book was disconcerting. It took a while before I felt relatively confident about what was going on. It also felt like we spent most of the book in about two weeks worth of time and then went into hyper speed because of the method. Also, East Coasters will probably better relate with this book than Midwesterners as many topics were rather foreign to me (I've been in the burbs my whole life). But overall, it did work, so give her a chance and stay with her.

Manless in Montclair is a witty and heartbreaking story of coping with sudden change.
You can also read an interesting though short interview with the author up at Yahoo News. However this book does on the market, one can only wish Amy Holman Edelman only joy and happiness from now on. And may she and all of you out there who celebrate it have a wonderful Hanukkah - full of light and love and chasing away the darkness.

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind

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