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Ayelet Waldman: LibraryThing Author Interview

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Ayelet Waldman is the author of Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Daughter's Keeper and the Mommy-Track Mysteries. She and her husband, novelist Michael Chabon, live with their four children in Berkeley, California.

Describe your library.

Our library meanders all over the house, on every available book case. Then the new stuff stacks up in corners until we buy a new book case and immediately fill it up again. We purge every year, hundred of volumes, so it's mostly stuff we love, or think we'll use. I once purged all of the Anne Tyler novels and then had to buy them all again. We alphabetize, separating hardcovers and paperbacks. Then there are some special collections which we do by topic or by genre.

You got a lot of flack for your 2005 piece in the New York Times where you said you loved your husband more than your children. Is Bad Mother a reponse to that article and the backlash that followed?

You mean is it is a 'fuck you' to the Bad Mother attack squads? I won't lie -- it was a little bit of a response. Mostly it's that I just had a lot more to say on the topic.

Which chapter is your favorite?

I'm very fond of Sexy Witches and Cereal Boxes, although I think the most compelling and important (if I'm allowed to say that about my own work) are Rocketship and Legacy.

Do you ever wish you could go back to before so many people had strong opinions about you?

You know, people have always had strong opinions about me, both favorable and not. The only difference is that nowadays a lot more people have an opinion. No...I don't wish I could go back. I get so much mail saying, essentially, "Thank you for expressing what I was afraid (or what too much good judgment) to say out loud." Feeling useful is a drug. I'd never give that up.

What advice would you give a new mother?

This project is so often characterized by failure that the biggest favor you can do yourself is to try to forgive yourself your mistakes (and there will be MANY).

You wrote nine novels before Bad Mother, a memoir in essays. How do the two compare? Do you expect to return to the fiction world?

Nonfiction is WAY easier. Finding the true voice of a novel can kill you. But in nonfiction, your voice is your voice is your voice, you know?

On top of everything else, you're a prolific blogger, and now tweet. Has social media changed how you approach writing?

Hardly prolific. I blogged many years ago for a couple of months, and now try to update regularly. Twitter is a new thing, and surprisingly addictive. I though I'd hate it but I kind of love it.

As you write it, Bad Mother could have been titled Bad Mother—with a Great Husband!. Is he really that perfect?

I know, right? How annoying is that. He's better than perfect. He's ideal.

What are you reading these days?

Glen David Gold's new novel. It rocks.

—interview by Abby Blachly and Tim Spalding

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