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Authors: Meg Wolitzer

This Is My Life

BOOK: This Is My Life
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Praise for
The Interestings

The Interestings
is warm, all-American, and acutely perceptive about the feelings and motivations of its characters, male and female, young and old, gay and straight; but it's also stealthily, unassumingly, and undeniably a novel of ideas.”

—The New York Times Book Review

“A victory . . .
The Interestings
secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation. . . . She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's.”

—Entertainment Weekly

“I don't want to insult Meg Wolitzer by calling her sprawling, engrossing new novel,
The Interestings
, her most ambitious, because throughout her thirty-year career of turning out well-observed, often very funny books at a steady pace, I have no doubt she has always been ambitious. . . . But
The Interestings
is exactly the kind of book that literary sorts who talk about ambitious works . . . are talking about. . . . Wolitzer is almost crushingly insightful; she doesn't just mine the contemporary mind, she seems to invade it.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“A supremely engrossing, deeply knowing, genius-level enterprise . . . The novel is thick and thickly populated. And yet Wolitzer is brilliant at keeping the reader close by her side as she takes her story back and forth across time, in and out of multiple lives, and into the tangle of countless continuing, sometimes compromising, conversations.”

—Chicago Tribune

“Masterful, sweeping . . . frequently funny and always engaging . . . A story that feels real and true and more than fulfills the promise of the title. It is interesting, yes, but also moving, compelling, fascinating, and rewarding.”

The Miami Herald

“It's a ritual of childhood—that solemn vow never to lose touch, no matter what. And for six artsy teenagers whose lives unfold in Wolitzer's bighearted, ambitious new novel, the vow holds for almost four decades.”


“In probing the unpredictable relationship between early promise and success and the more dependable one between self-acceptance and happiness, Wolitzer's novel is not just a big book but a shrewd one.”

—The Christian Science Monitor

The Interestings
] soars, primarily because Wolitzer insists on taking our teenage selves seriously and, rather than coldly satirizing them, comes at them with warm humor and adult wisdom.”


“In Meg Wolitzer's lovely, wise
The Interestings
, Julie Jacobson begins the summer of '74 as an outsider at arts camp until she is accepted into a clique of teenagers with whom she forms a lifelong bond. Through well-tuned drama and compassionate humor, Wolitzer chronicles the living organism that is friendship, and arcs it over the course of more than thirty years.”

O, The Oprah Magazine


—Vanity Fair

“Juicy, perceptive, and vividly written.”


“A sprawling, ambitious, and often wistful novel.”

—USA Today

“Smart, nuanced, and fun to read, in part because of the effervescent evocation of New York City from Watergate to today, in part because of the idiosyncratic authenticity of her characters.”

—The Daily Beast

“You'll want to be friends with these characters long after you put down the book.”

—Marie Claire

“A page-turner.”


“[A] big, juicy novel . . . Wolitzer's finger is unerringly on the pulse of our social culture.”

—Reader's Digest

Praise for
The Uncoupling

“Enchanting from start to finish . . . Thoughtful and touching,
The Uncoupling
is also very funny.”

—The New York Times Book Review

“Keenly observant.”

—Los Angeles Times

“Wolitzer writes with wit and barbed insight . . . a master of modern fiction.”

—Entertainment Weekly

“Wonderfully funny . . . reveals a wry understanding of modern relationships.”

—The Seattle Times

“At this point in her career, Meg Wolitzer deserves to be a household name.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

“[Wolitzer's] wittiest and most incisive work yet.”


“[A] sly homage to the Aristophanes classic

—O, The Oprah Magazine

“A sage exploration of the role of sex in both sustaining and wrecking relationships.”

—The Wall Street Journal

“Wolitzer expertly teases out the socio-sexual power dynamics between men and women.”

Vanity Fair

“Meg Wolitzer, like Tom Perrotta, is an author who makes you wonder why more people don't write perceptive, entertaining, unassuming novels about how and why ordinary people choose to make decisions about their lives. . . .
The Uncoupling
is a novel that can't help but make you think about your own relationship.”

—Nick Hornby in
The Believer

“Every few years [Wolitzer] turns out a sparkling novel that manages to bring the shine back to big, tarnished issues of gender politics, such as women's pull between work and family, or the role of sexuality in family dynamics.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

“Superbly written, wry yet compassionate.”

ABC News

Praise for
The Ten-Year Nap

“About as real as it gets. A beautifully precise description of modern family life: the compromises, the peculiarities, the questions, the reconciliations to fate and necessity . . . written with the author's trademark blend of tenderness and bite.”

—Chicago Tribune

“Vividly, satisfyingly real.”

—Entertainment Weekly

“Very entertaining. The tartly funny Wolitzer is a miniaturist who can nail a contemporary type, scene, or artifact with deadeye accuracy.”

—The New York Times

“The ultimate peril is motherhood, loving someone more than you love yourself. Meg Wolitzer nails it with tenderness and wit.”

—O, The Oprah Magazine

“Everyone has an opinion about stay-at-home mothers. With her new novel, Meg Wolitzer has just one agenda—to tell the truth about their lives. An engrossing, juicy read.”


“Wolitzer perfectly captures her women's resolve in the face of a dizzying array of conflicting loyalties. To whom does a woman owe her primary allegiance? Her children? Her mother? Her friends, spouse, community? God forbid, herself?”

—The Washington Post

“Provocative . . . Wolitzer's intimate look into these women's subsequent quests for validation is both liberating and poignant, as she deftly explores the relationships among family, friends, husbands, and lovers that shape her heroine's views of their pasts and the uncertainties of the future.”


“[Wolitzer's] smart, funny, and deeply provocative novel takes the lives of its women very seriously. . . . She follows the inner workings of the minds of a group of friends in hilarious detail without condescending or judging. . . . It's a marvelous jungle in there, especially when written with Meg Wolitzer's unsentimental compassion and wit.”

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Also by Meg Wolitzer










Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

A Penguin Random House Company


Copyright © 1988, 2014 by Meg Wolitzer

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with all copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

First published in the United States of America by Crown Publishers, Inc.: 1998

Published as
This Is Your Life
by Penguin Books in 1989

Riverhead trade paperback edition: April 2014

Riverhead trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-59463-314-0

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-15927-3

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.



Praise for Meg Wolitzer

Also by Meg Wolitzer

Title Page






Part One

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight


Part Two

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen


Part Three

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five


About the Author

For Richard Panek, with love


I went back and forth over whether to publish the reissue of this novel under its original title,
This Is Your Life
, or under the title you see on the cover, which was the name given to the movie based on the novel. I thought:
This Is Your Life
This Is My Life
—whose “life” is it anyway? My decision to go with the movie title has to do with my fondness for the movie; the fact that there's a subculture of people, mostly female, who loved the movie when they were young; as well as my desire to honor it after the death of its director and co-screenwriter, Nora Ephron, who was my friend. It was her directorial debut.

The novel tells the story of a stand-up comedian, Dotty Engels (who mysteriously became Dotty Ingels in the movie) and her two daughters, Opal and Erica. “How did you come up with the name Opal?” Nora once asked me. “It's so not-Jewish.” But I had no idea that the name Opal was so not-Jewish. I wrote the whole novel, including its character names and all else, in a kind of protracted hunch state. I just knew I wanted to write a book about mothers, daughters, work, family, fame, love, and teenaged passions, all themes I have returned to as a writer over the years. The book features New York City in another era, and while I haven't read it in a really long time, I am prone to feel about it much the way a mother might feel about a slightly unpolished daughter. But that's the thing about one's early books—often they
unpolished, lacking the finished, knowing sheen that comes later on, and which you may spend the rest of your career madly trying to rub off.

People who have seen the movie first are sometimes surprised that the book is darker and less funny than they'd imagined it to be. It's not a comedy, exactly, though it does take a look at the world of a certain kind of shticky stand-up. Some of the cultural touchstones will feel as if they come from a long-lost world. There's one line in it that my husband, who went to more than a few of my readings back before we were married, used to tease me about. When Dottie is a guest on
The Tonight Show
, there's a reference to “the beefsteak laugh of Ed McMahon.” If you are young now, you might ask: “Who is this Ed McMahon you speak of?” As I used to say at the end of the book reports I wrote in elementary school, “I guess you will have to read the book to find out.”

It's been just over twenty-five years since this novel was published. I was a daughter when I wrote it, but now I'm a mother, too. The work/family tensions emphasized in the movie are personally relevant to me in ways they weren't back then. But, of course, I've never been one for believing that novels need to be personally relevant to their readers. Instead, I've always felt that a reader needs to be willing to step outside herself and her own experience and follow the novel where it takes her. In this instance, I think it will take a reader back to an earlier time in New York, when the entire city looked different, and a fictional, polka-dot-wearing stand-up comedienne mother and her two young daughters were trying to figure out how to accommodate one another's needs and longings. This, I guess, is their lives.


BOOK: This Is My Life
9.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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