Great day today at the Free Library Book Festival. The weather held out, and the traffic was steady. Bernadette Peters had to compete with the popular Darth Vader and his crew, but she seemed to hold her own as she read to a big crowd from her new picture book, Broadway Barks.
We had lots of people stop by our booth, and it was good to hear not only how many people knew Philadelphia Stories, but knew which issues they missed. We got a few pre-orders on my book, Broad Street (our first release from our new book division, PS Books, coming out this fall), and I saw Jennifer Weiner long enough to remind her that she had a galley of the book to consider for an endorsement (which she seemed to forget about, but I’ll forgive her since she just had a kid!). She moderated a really interesting panel (along with Rachel Pastan, Amy Richards, and a woman whose name I forget) about the challenging truth of motherhood: it ain’t always the sacred job society still paints it to be. The panel, who all have books related to the subject, made some great points about how even in today’s “liberated” society, if a mom even hints that maybe she sometimes resents the loss of her freedom or wants to work rather than change a diaper, she is often criticized and looked down upon. They discussed how many marriages begin with the intention of a 50/50 sharing of all domestic duties, but this is often skewed once the kid comes along and mom (who usually doesn’t make as much as much as dad) gets saddled with the bulk of child care. Speaking from my own experience, I would say this is true. I would also say there can be a certain household power that comes along with this role, and I don’t always give my husband the opportunity to take back some of his share. There lies but one challenge in the quest for redefining the contemporary family.
This topic also hit home with me because our spring 2009 book release, Wonder Mom, Party Girl by Marc Schuster, deals with a suburban divorced mother of two who gets addicted to coke. The initial feedback we received from readers was: how can she do this? She’s a mom! Would they say that if the character were a suburban divorced dad of two who gets addicted to coke?
Tomorrow, Barbara Walters will read from her new memoir. What would her take be, I wonder? — cw