Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning by Claire Dederer

Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning

From the New York Times best-selling author of Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, a ferocious, sexy, hilarious memoir about going off the rails at midlife and trying to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become.Claire Dederer is a happily married mother of two, ages nine and twelve, when she suddenly finds herself totally despondent and, simultaneous...

Title:Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1101946504
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:256 pages

Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning Reviews

  • Wendy Jensen

    A woman going through a ridiculous mid life crisis is fixated on her thirteen year old self.

    Quoting from the book, "You received a savage e-mail from a mentor and former editor of yours, who told you the book was so unreadable she had to stop midway through." kept ringing in my mind as I read this book but persevered to the end.

    I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

  • Meg Mulder

    I've just finished Claire Dederer’s “Love and Trouble” or, as I’ve alternatively titled it “People who look at me and why.” I am a little disappointed. No, I’m a little angry. A lot angry actually. The degree of hubris required to write this book and then to show (or sell!) it to people other than your family is astounding. Mind-boggling.

    The following review contains spoilers, I suppose, but only in so far as a memoir about nothing can actually be said to contain any.

    Ok, so imagine the book as

    I've just finished Claire Dederer’s “Love and Trouble” or, as I’ve alternatively titled it “People who look at me and why.” I am a little disappointed. No, I’m a little angry. A lot angry actually. The degree of hubris required to write this book and then to show (or sell!) it to people other than your family is astounding. Mind-boggling.

    The following review contains spoilers, I suppose, but only in so far as a memoir about nothing can actually be said to contain any.

    Ok, so imagine the book as a space. A large, unfurnished space. Maybe an abandoned warehouse with high ceilings. The potential is vast. Then start peopling the space with characters: a beautiful barista, a gay roommate, an unhinged best friend. Let’s imagine they’re there to attend a party, they’re there by invitation. They mill around, unsure of what it is they should be doing. You’re there too! So far, there is nothing, no waiters working the room with serving trays of colourful hors de oeuvres or tottering glasses of champagne. No music even. And in walks the party girl (the author). She wafts around the room, but she is walking strangely, her head bowed in towards herself. Has she forgotten that she invited anyone to the party in the first place? Even her pithy humble brags and random, but also sometimes perceptive, reviews of books or movies aren’t enough to distract you from gawping and mouthing to the others 'wtaf?'

    Every man in here, she declares, is lusting over her. She cries a bit. 'That short-story writer just stuck his tongue down my throat!' She muses on Roman Polanski. 'That hippy rubbed his dirty hippy penis on my thigh!' She journeys to Australia. She has a stomachache on the way, but once there drinks a lot of coffee and watches some movies.

    Sorry, I zoned out for a moment. Where was she? Oh, 'A pack of rabid Australians tried to maul me!'

    Then there’s the part where she and her friend go to hotels and drink cocktails or walk on the beach or visit art galleries and her husband tells her she has to sell a book because they need the money (aha, things are starting to make a little sense now…) 'That lesbian! That musician!' (ugh, I’m not really listening anymore).

    She thinks about Roman Polanski some more. 'Please tie me up! Violate me! Anyone?'

    She takes a trip to Salt Lake City with her friend and they drive together (some reference to Thelma and Louise, I think).

    The end.

    Oh, and let’s not forget the “events”. There’s a pseudoscientific research paper into, I’m not really sure what, why the author has sex? Basically just a roundabout way of making a list of her sexual partners. Then there’s the riveting section on the places in her neighbourhood she frequented while growing up, references which probably only mean something to the other people who grew up with her. And then a cutesy a-z about her rather pedestrian experience at college (G is for goddess etc.)

    But here’s the real rub - you paid to be here, to attend this melange of tears, white girl angst and tedious reveries. Even the sex parts are boring. Yes, maybe my review is gimmicky and stupid and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least I didn’t charge you to read it.

    1 star for the one part I enjoyed (a description of middle-aged sex) and 1 star because I think Claire Dederer would make a pretty good fiction writer. If she could lift her head from her navel for just one moment.

  • Jaclyn Day

    Her raw, clever writing does only a mediocre job of hiding the messy construction of the book. There are stunning moments that beg to be reread, but those are (unfortunately) lost in the sorting through of everything else.

  • Amy

    I specialize in child abuse and neglect, and based on that, I would say the author is still suffering quite actively from it effects as an adult. As a child, she seems largely ignored and certainly unprotected. I found it sad that she spun this maltreatment into some kind of wacky, sexualized personality instead of the ill effects of what it was: blatant neglect. Yes, it was the 70s and 80s, but parents still protected their children. As I was reading the book, more than once I had the impulse t

    I specialize in child abuse and neglect, and based on that, I would say the author is still suffering quite actively from it effects as an adult. As a child, she seems largely ignored and certainly unprotected. I found it sad that she spun this maltreatment into some kind of wacky, sexualized personality instead of the ill effects of what it was: blatant neglect. Yes, it was the 70s and 80s, but parents still protected their children. As I was reading the book, more than once I had the impulse to write the author and apologize in behalf of her mom and dad.

    I'll say it: The level of hypersexualization of the author is not healthy or normal, whether you are young, old, man or woman. Instead of spending these pages rationalizing why it is, I wish the author would be the parent to herself she never had and use the book to thoughtfully explore her experience. No such luck.

  • juliemcl

    Blech. I kept wanting to stop reading, but already owed the library fine so kept reading to the end - you know, to get my money's worth? I guess this holds your interest inasmuch as reading someone's diary for an hour might be interesting, but it meanders, is imprecise, is exasperating, is immature. The excerpts of her childhood diary only serve to highlight that she hasn't changed much. Oh, the privileged navel-gazing! Why did I pick this up? I have to be extra careful in choosing memoirs, now

    Blech. I kept wanting to stop reading, but already owed the library fine so kept reading to the end - you know, to get my money's worth? I guess this holds your interest inasmuch as reading someone's diary for an hour might be interesting, but it meanders, is imprecise, is exasperating, is immature. The excerpts of her childhood diary only serve to highlight that she hasn't changed much. Oh, the privileged navel-gazing! Why did I pick this up? I have to be extra careful in choosing memoirs, now I see. No more trying to finish just for finishing's sake.

  • Vanessa Garcia

    Best book I've read in a while. Couldn't put this baby down. Female sexuality, like all sexuality, is complicated-- thank god we are finally talking about it with this kind of lucidity and candor.

  • Holly

    I didn't find this all that different in tone from Dederer's 2010 memoir

    , a work that she now disparages as a "lady book". Much of this new memoir I found grating and hard to listen to. I was going to give it two stars but then the final chapter or two redeemed it. She's good with putting sentences together, at finding great phrases to describe things, but in both books I got the feeling she wasn't being entirely truthful, and was convincing herself of things because she found a phrasing o

    I didn't find this all that different in tone from Dederer's 2010 memoir

    , a work that she now disparages as a "lady book". Much of this new memoir I found grating and hard to listen to. I was going to give it two stars but then the final chapter or two redeemed it. She's good with putting sentences together, at finding great phrases to describe things, but in both books I got the feeling she wasn't being entirely truthful, and was convincing herself of things because she found a phrasing or example that sounded good.

    And yet, near the end of this memoir Dederer pulls back, pauses, and appears to ask herself - and try to answer truthfully - some questions that aren't obscured by hip phases or wordy rhetoric. She interrogates the frame of the very book she has written, in which she has basically attributed her youthful promiscuity and present-day yearnings for extramarital relationships to a molestation (rape) at age 13 by an adult friend of the family. She asks whether this is really the reason for her complicated character, and whether it really scarred her, and if she just would have had this sexual personality even if that hadn't happened. Now, I actually wouldn't have gone that far as a reader and doubted her on THAT - if a woman says they have been sexually abused then one believes them; but she brought up the question herself. But: while still pondering this conclusion to

    I listened to Roxane Gay's new memoir. What a difference. There is absolutely no doubt in the reader's mind (yes I'll speak for all decent people who read Gay's book) that the terrible incident of Roxane's rape at age 12 was the most devastating moment of her life and affects her to this day. With Dederer one begins to wonder - because even she isn't sure.

    Since I never entirely feel Dederer is being truthful I could just override her self-questioning and assume: of course it changed her. But actually the book seemed to improve or change tone after she questions that premise of her self-identity. It felt more honest for a few pages. Until she starts over trying to explain her sexuality: What? - you've assumed she's been doing this all along, but maybe she's been lying? So even this ends up ambiguous in a Dederer memoir. For as soon as I rejoiced in the sudden feeling of revelation I immediately began to question why, when describing her desires and her proclivities that she chooses to use the word "victim" (I want to be a victim/ be victimized?). Victim? Isn't she talking about dominance/submission? It confused me and I realized I didn't quite know what she was saying again, or she settled on this word ("victim") and then ran with it, riffing on it, writing very well on the sentence level but leaving me with questions.

  • Elyse

    Lots could be said - interesting/addictive audiobook....but I kept an arm distance!!

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