Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ayelet Waldman - Bad Mother

Kepler's event host Liz Silver reports on Ayelet Waldman's visit to read from her book, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace.

Ayelet (pronounced "I-yell-it") is another writer who could, if she ever encountered serious writer's block, get a job doing stand-up comedy. She is a non-stop, laugh-a-minute bundle of energy--that's the manic side of her bipolarness. She speaks and reads at about 1000 words per minute. Did I mention that she is FUNNY!!? The crowd (about 75 people; maybe 2 men) seemed familiar with her work, most seemed to have seen her before, and many were familiar with Bad Mother's roots in a 2005 article in New York and the ensuing brouhaha. In this article, she confessed that if push came to shove, she loved her husband more than her children. This scandalized the mommy bloggers, not to mention the intensely religious contingent, and, eventually Ayelet went on Oprah to confront and be confronted by her critics. At the end of the day, Ayelet won the battle; Oprah was on her side, and an engaging, thought provoking and very funny book resulted.

Interestingly, the crowd really related to Ayelet more as a childrearing expert than a writer. All of the question were about her views on such controversial subjects as homework, division of domestic labor, etc. There were no specific questions about her husband, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, no questions about her writing process or how the two of them share or critique each other's work.

Ayelet read (at top speed) a chapter from the book and then took questions. She seemed ready and willing to go on forever, but just as I was wondering about stepping in front of the locomotive, she said, "I'll take one last question." It was exactly 8:30: she is a total pro.

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