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The Slippery Year
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 030727067X, Hardcover)Book Description “We are all so curious. Hungry for the truth. If only we could ask the questions we really want to ask of each other and get the real answers. Like how many times a month do you have sex? What prescription drugs are you on? Are you happy? Really happy? Happy enough?”
For anybody who has ever wondered privately Is this all there is, Melanie Gideon’s poignant, hilarious, exuberant meditation, The Slippery Year, chronicles a year in which she confronts both the fantasies of her receding youth and the realities of midlife with a husband, a child, and a dog (one of whom runs away). She reflects on the exigencies of domesticity--the need for a household catastrophe plan, the fainting spell occasioned by the departure of her nine-year-old son for camp, the mattress wars, and the carpool line. With tenderness, unsparing honesty, and uproarious wit, Gideon brings us back again and again to the sweetness of ordinary pleasures and to life’s most enduring satisfactions. She captures perfectly that moment right before everything changes and the things we have loved forever begin to fall away for the first time.
The Slippery Year is the story of a woman’s quest to reignite passion, beauty, and mystery and discover if “happily ever after” is a possibility after all.A Q&A with Melanie Gideon
Question: What is a “Slippery Year”?
Melanie Gideon: Simply put, a Slippery Year is a year in which we are in the process of transformation. We’ve got one arm in the coat of our old life (a coat that no longer fits us--the sleeves are too short) and one arm in the coat of our new life (which doesn’t fit us yet either--the sleeves are too long). A Slippery Year is a call to awaken. Change is coming for you, whether you like it or not.
Question: Why did you decide to write about yours?
Melanie Gideon: Change came for me in the form of the tricked-out, jacked up, four-by-four van with a diesel engine and a cattle guard on its front bumper that my husband bought over the Internet. He had all these dreams of our driving to Baja in it, of living an adventurous life. Well, I hated the thing on sight. It was so enormous it barely fit in our driveway. Obviously this was his midlife crisis vehicle. But there was one problem. He wasn’t going through a midlife crisis--I was. In fact, he was sailing through midlife doing exactly what all the literature said you should do! Find new hobbies! Take up new sports. Ingest fish oil tablets. No, I was the one stuck, unwilling to push myself out of my comfort zone. Somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention (which was most of the time), I had slipped outside of my life, and I knew if I didn't do something about it I might slip out of my life for good.
Question: You write in your introduction: "I am one of the millions who is currently walking around in a daze, no longer recognizing herself, wondering 'Is this all there is?'" Do you think this is a uniquely feminine experience?
Melanie Gideon: No, I do not think this is unique to women! Are you kidding me? Our puppy wonders if this is all there is every day. I see it on his face when he’s done with his kibble, or when I give him one scratch behind the ear instead of two. “Is this all there is” is the human condition. Most of us are too smart to admit it, however, and for good reason, because people might want to throw eggs at you if you confess this. I felt guilty asking this question, especially because I had a lot. I had no right to complain. I had a wonderful partner and a healthy child and we had a house and we both had jobs. Even so, there was this flatness, this indifference. I had become an observer rather than a participant. Everybody, no matter what they have, still has something they need and long for. I wanted to feel my life deeply again.
Question: You have a caring, devoted husband and a precocious, loving son. You have a nice home and live within driving distance of a Trader Joe's. Are you worried about the reaction to a book where you question all that you have?
Melanie Gideon: For those of you who will not be slipping away to Italy any time soon but instead are attempting to open your eyes to your ludicrous and yet often miraculous lives, Montepulciano is a fruity, dry wine with soft tannins. Yes--of course I’m worried about people’s reactions. That’s why I put off writing a memoir for so long. What right did I have to write a memoir? I hadn’t suffered enough. I wasn’t different enough. You, know, I actually made a list of things I could write a memoir about. Things that set me apart--that were worthy of a memoir. It was a pathetic list. There was one item on it: I was a twin. This used to be a big deal. At least when I was growing up in the sixties before IVF. Now, being a twin has lost most of its cachet. You have to be a quadruplet or a sextuplet to write a memoir about it. Instead I decided to write about all the ordinary things that mattered: children, dogs, sisters, love, loss, the passage of time, and all the reasons to go on living when the only thing we can be sure of it that one day it will all end.
Question: You write: “Marriage changes passion. Suddenly you’re in bed with a relative.” What was your husband’s reaction to this book?
Melanie Gideon: Well, I wasn’t stupid. I didn’t let him read it until I was done. Then as I passed him the manuscript, I told him what he was holding in his hands was a love story--and he might not think that upon the first read, but give it a little time. My husband, being the wise, sweet, generous man that he is, agreed. A few months later, that is.
Question: How have you changed your life since you finished writing The Slippery Year, and what do you hope readers will take away from it?
Melanie Gideon: The Slippery Year began with a van. The van was really a metaphor for the adventure that was missing in my life. I like to think of this book as my van: writing it was my adventure. I only wish I could have ordered the book over the Internet--like my husband did with the van--and spared myself all that work. I hope readers will laugh and be comforted and perhaps see some of themselves in these pages. I wrote this book so I wouldn’t feel alone--alone in the carpool line, alone in my questions about marriage and motherhood, and alone in my attempts to make sense of my life. I definitely feel less alone these days. Especially since our puppy has peed on every carpet in the house, so wherever I walk I get a little reminder of how not alone I really am in the form of yellow stains that will not come out no matter what carpet cleaner I use.
(Photo © Jonathan Sprague)
(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 02 Feb 2013 18:39:46 -0500)
A celebration of the indignities and consolations of modern domestic life describes the author's haphazard experiences after coming into a realization of her own mortality upon reaching her mid-forties, an awakening that prompted her efforts to find meaning in everyday activities.
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