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March 18, 2005

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What is so utterly irksome is not that Judith Warner's book gets so much play, but that it is only one of dozens of similar volumes on display at your local bookstore. Barbara Ehrenreich's classy exposé of a very class-based America - Nickel and Dimed - got a hefty share of favorable reviews, and some pundit chatter, too, including good words from The Washington Post Book World. But this didn't power a renaissance of muckrucking journalism that turned out 50 books on similar matters.

No offense to Judith Warner - and no, I haven't read Perfect Madness - but she's had a decade-and-a-half of predecessors spouting much the same stuff, and her own success will probably give us another score of such books. Ehrenreich's stands alone, just like so many of the people she encountered in her working tour of the underside of American capitalism.

This reminds me of an exemplary piece by Sally Quinn about the movie Sideways. Quinn found the characters and events to be very unbelievable.

Strange, I thought this was a work of contemporary realism of a rare caliber. Even if one doesn't like the movie, I think it's hard to deny the true-to-lifeness these 4 lead characters, particularly the men.

But to Bubble Dwelling Sally Quinn (and also Cokie Roberts, who called them "losers"), the movie's acclaim was scoff-worthy. The story of non upperclass, nonprivileged once-ambitious, never-beens (one of whom stumbles into a wealthy family based on luck and looks) was completely alien to them.

I'm glad that you brought this up. The acclaim which this book has received vividly brings back the memory of being 7 mos pregnant with my first child, on my way to work, listening to an NPR story about mothers "opting out" of the work force.

I was in full panic mode about how I was about to become the worst mother ever when the piece mentioned the new moms in overalls and pony tails looking lost as they pushed their strollers to Starbucks. Then I had a moment of clarity and realized that even though my finances dictated returning to work after my 12 weeks of allocated family leave (Thank you President Clinton!), there would be no time that I would have a lost look while I was with my child.

So where are the stories about moms like me who would love to be able to "opt out" but who do wonderful things with their offspring anyway. It's time for someone to write a book about the problems that speak to mothers from all zip codes. I'm glad you spotted this. And its also time for the mediaopoly to discover the true face of American Momhood.

I stumbled upon this site as I was in the process of doing some online research. Of course, if this book is based only on information gleamed in the richest neighborhoods, it clearly can't be generalized to the larger population.

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