Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My mother died on Wednesday, December 10th after a long illness. I had anticipated her death since May, yet it came as a surprise. I find that extraordinary. I know a little boy, Luca, who will be 3 in July. On the first night of Hanukkah, one of his presents was a little refrigerator with a cake cake inside. The cake was a source of great delight to him. He kept opening the door to the fridge and announcing, "There's a cake inside." He was so thrilled that I was finally forced to ask, "Why is it so funny?" He laughed and said, "Because it's a surprise." I thought a lot about surprises after that. Each time Luca saw the cake, he laughed. and each time I think about my mother's absence, that surprise makes me sad. Even after so many months of knowing her death was imminent, of not hearing her voice and of suspecting that she likely did not even know I was there, I am surprised that she is gone. I am thinking about posting my mother's eulogy on my blog, but it feels so personal. Is that the point of a blog? To expose oneself so fully? I guess. . . it's still a bit of a surprise to me to think about doing something so revealing, so publc.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Secret Sex Lives

The other day I checked in at Good Reads to see if there were any new reviews of The Sinner's Guide to Confession. I would like to create the illusion that I am indifferent to reviews, but even though writers must develop a thick skin or perish, I do care what my readers think. More importantly, I care why they think what they do. One recent review stood out for me. The reader (evidently not in her fifties) had some kind words for my work but then noted that she might have enjoyed the book more if she was older. In fact, she said the book could have been called The Secret Sex Lives of the Golden Girls. At first, I laughed, but then I stopped. I recalled the characters on that wonderful show and wondered about their age. Surely, those women were older than I am, or were they? Of course, they were. But even if they weren't, how much does it really matter? When is a woman too old to stop feeling passion? Is there a cut-off age for love and desire? Moreover, why do young women believe that good sex is their exclusive domain? It seems to me that the older women get, the more they understand about their needs and the better they accept their shortcomings. I don't believe we are ever to old to want passion, so in response to my young critic, no one is ever too old to have a secret sex life and certainly no one is ever too old to dream about one.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sweet Dreams

This week I was invited to speak at another book club. It is always a little exciting to think that anyone wants to listen to me hold court on writing. The woman who invited me talked to me briefly about my book. There is a considerable amount of sex in The Sinner's Guide to Confession, especially since one of the characters, Barbara, is an erotica writer. In fact, a reviewer on Good Reads, suggested the book was like Sex and the City for middle-aged women. I checked the "reviewer's" profile because I knew she considered that a criticism, and I was curious about her age. Of course, she turned out to be thirty-something! I, however, thought it was splendid review. Does she imagine that just because women are menopausal and not as likely to turn heads the way they used to, that they stop thinking about or wanting sex? My neighbor told me that her mother, who was in her seventies, assured her that sex just gets better and better. I was inspired by that!
I gave all this even more thought yesterday on Halloween. As countless children clamored for candy while I admired their costumes and engaged them in some dialogue, I had pangs of longing for the days when I was in my thirties, and my son was little, and I escorted him in his hippie gear one year, a pirate another, the Phantom of the Opera, a Rastafarian, and countless other incarnations. Then, I could still turn heads when I wasn't in my mother role, and I never imagined i would be fifty-something and condemned for creating women characters of the same age who still want sex and love.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day One!

When I graduated from high school, my parents bought me a typewriter with a cartridge that could be inserted when I wanted to white-out a mistake. The typewriter seemed extraordinary. No more erasable paper for me! Today, with the help of Nikki Leigh, I created a blog. I decided to call my blog Pentimento, with a nod to Lillian Hellman and her wonderful novel of the same name. I think it is a fitting title for my blog, as well as a meaningful introduction to The Sinner's Guide to Confession. In some ways, all of our lives are shaped by layers of experience ane secrets these experiences generate. Pentimento, the process by which painters often use the same canvas for drafts is an analagous concept. The original painting is exposed when the top layer becomes translucent with age. Perhaps we all become more "translucent" with age, our secrets push to the surface, demanding to be heard, needing to be understood. It makes sense, then, that we choose our confessors even before we are ready to confess.