Friday, May 18, 2012

a chat about books, aging, girlfriends and kids …


Journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times Op-ed writer Anna Quindlen came into town yesterday. Well, not exactly into my town, but close enough for me to hop in the car with Mr. Moss and attend her book signing at the West Portal Book store in the heart of San Francisco. Are you familiar with any of her fiction or her non-fiction books?

Her latest book is her memoir entitled, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. And, as you can see, she signed my book.


The book signing was at 7 pm in West Portal, an affluent community near the southern edge of the hills in central San Francisco, and we arrived a bit late. I first became intrigued about Quindlen’s latest book when I saw this quote about parenting.

anna quindlen

The ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor. Wow. I absolutely love and agree with this perspective and I’ve  already included it in this post on motherhood. What do you think about her view of parenting? Do you agree?


Despite my ( weak and feeble) protests to my hubby, “Don’t worry, I won’t get lost,” he ended up taking off early from work to drive me. And yes, I confess, I was so relieved to have his company and his sense of direction along for the ride. Once we got through the commuter traffic, it actually wasn’t bad.


We discovered a tree-lined neighborhood on Santa Clara Avenue that delivered us to a street lined with eclectic shops and a vintage theater.


The West Portal Bookstore was inconspicuous from the outside, but inside it had a cozy, urban feel that I immediately liked. Apparently, this was one of the many book signings that regularly happen there. And it was jam-packed with what my husband jokingly referred to as Anna’s posse, a mostly female audience aged forty and over, asking intelligent questions about books, aging, kids, and of course, the dynamics between women and men.


I wish you could have been there. I really think you would have enjoyed the discussion.

These are some of the bits and pieces of commentary that struck me as interesting.

On the topic of aging:

…she questioned our culture’s deep-seated views about getting older. She noted that it’s clearly a negative perspective that affects both men and women. And as an example, she mentioned the universal responses she got whenever she mentioned that her current book was on the topic of aging. It’s a topic that immediately triggered comments about one’s physical ailments, such as,  “Ohhh... let me tell you about my latest injury, my sore rotary cup, those sun spots on my hands etc.…” Why, she wondered do we over-focus on the losses and not on the fact that most of us are wiser, more experienced, and more financially better off than when we were twenty-five? When she asks people if they would truly want to be in their twenties again, the consensus is no.

By the way, actress Jamie Lee Curtis recently wrote an article in the Huffington Post about a similar topic. Why, she wondered, is the word “anti” always in front of the word, “aging,” when aging is such a natural part of life. If you want to read this article, click HERE.

On the differences between men and women friendships:

…she believes that women need their girlfriends even more as they get older. When pressed, she tends to view men as more linear and women as more circular in their experience of their friendships. Men tend to want to “do things” with their guy friends, similar to what we mothers called ‘parallel play’ in the preschool years. A man’s friendships tend to be action-oriented. Conversely, women want to  “talk about things” with their girlfriends. Share the details of their lives. Emote.

On the topic of reading:

…she loves 19th century writers such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. She rereads Dickens every so often because she keeps learning something (about writing) each time. And she listed a whole lot of contemporary authors as well which I didn’t jot down. I also found out that she gets her daily information online from Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Politico, Times and the Washington Post website; in addition, she is still an “ink and paper” person who also reads the New York Times, Post and News, and The Wall Street Journal. For fun she reads the Gawker, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, The New Yorker and People. (Atlantic Wire, March 2012)

On the topic of Fifty Shades of Grey, the latest best-seller that women everywhere are reading:

I had to know.  Did Anna Quindlen read Fifty Shades of Grey yet? Would she ever?

I had recently read Marlo Thomas’s piece in the Huffington Post in which she admitted that after all the hype, she had to read it and find out why it’s so popular with women.

When I posed this question to Anna Quindlen, she winced and said she had “skimmed through it,” but acknowledged she has a hard time reading poorly written material. “I know I’m supposed to focus on the porn, but when the prose is so bad, I just can’t,” she replied with a half-smile.

Well, there it is, my two-second conversation with Anna Quindlen, whom I might add, I found to be sharp, confident and utterly interesting. So just as soon as I finish the two books I’m currently reading, her book is next.


How about you. What are reading right now?

Bye for now my friends,




1 comment:

Kristyn said...

Hi Leslie. I am following you back. I am glad I am not the only one who had issues with it. I wanted to like it since its getting so much hype, but I just can't.

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