Manic Mommies Book Club Selection: March 2010

We will be discussing this book with the author on March 17. Watch for details as we get closer to the date.

The book giveaway will be posted to the Manic Mommies website within the next week.

From the author’s website: Jancee Dunn grew up in Chatham, New Jersey. She has been a writer for ‘Rolling Stone’ since 1989. She has written twenty cover stories for the magazine, including profiles of Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck and Madonna. She has written for many different publications, among them “GQ” (where she wrote a monthly sex advice column for five years) “New York” magazine, “O, The Oprah Magazine,” “Vogue” and the “New York Times.” Her short story, “Who’s My Little Man?” was published in the November 2003 issue of Jane.

From 2001-2002 she was an entertainment correspondent for “Good Morning America.” Prior to that she was a veejay for MTV2, MTV’s all-music station, from its inception in 1996 until 2001.

Synopsis: Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo? explores this phenomenon–through both Dunn’s coming to grips with getting older and her folks’ attempts to turn back the clock. In a series of hilarious and heartwarming essays, Dunn conspires with her sisters to finagle their way into the old family homestead, dissects the whys and wherefores of her parents’ obsession with newspaper clippings, confronts the seamy side of the JC Penney catalogs she paged through as a kid, and accompanies her sixtysomething mother to a New Jersey tattoo parlor, where Mom is giddy to get a raven inked onto her wrist. And Dunn does it all with humor and insight.

Type: Fiction, 224 pages, Trade paperback

Quick Take: Jancee Dunn is a writer, wife and the mother to a baby girl – while she and I were exchanging emails to coordinate the details for the MMBC discussion I quickly realized she too is a Manic Mommy!  I would also recommend reading her second novel Don’t You Forget About Me which is another funny/touching story about family and so much more.

If you have a family (and I know you do) you will enjoy this book. Jancee shares stories about her family, with themes most of us can relate to. I enjoyed the story about the newspaper clippings, my grandma sent clipping and now my parents do to. Sadly I think this tradition might end with my parents since I read the paper online.  This book reminded me that big family or small, we all have memories worth holding on to.

I am looking forward to discussing this book everyone, I expect a lot of laughing.

Source: Received from author/publisher

Author Q&A:
Tell us a little about yourself: I am 43 and live in a converted church in Brooklyn, New York with my husband, Tom (who is also a writer) and my baby, Sylvie. I have written three books: But Enough About Me, a memoir on my life as a rock journalist for Rolling Stone, a novel called Don’t You Forget About Me, and my latest book, a collection of essays entitled Why Is My Mother Getting A Tattoo? And yes, she got a tattoo, at the age of 67: a big black raven on her wrist. My mother isn’t exactly a biker, either. She’s a member of her garden club in New Jersey and wears pink cable-knit sweaters. I write frequently about my family. They used to protest and throw around phrases like ‘this is off the record,’ but now they don’t even flinch. At every family get-together, I harvest new material.

I also write for many magazines, among them Vogue and O, The Oprah Magazine. And I was once a veejay on MTV2 for five years. I’m proud to say I was the oldest female veejay in the history of Viacom.

Do you write daily? I do. I write when the baby naps, so it’s this sort of concentrated burst. I had the baby right before I turned 43, so I think this will probably be my only one, and I really want to enjoy her. So I don’t have a nanny, or daycare, or anything. It’s been a challenge, to say the least, to try and earn a living during her nap times. So far I’m squeaking by.

What was it like getting your first novel published? The day it came out, I ran down to the Barnes and Noble in my neighborhood. I literally ran. I burst in the door and there it was, piled on a table near the entrance. I grabbed a book and burst into tears. The security guard was watching me with concern. I think he thought I was a deranged person, which might have something to do with the stained sweatpants I was wearing at the time.

It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. It has been my dream since I was a small child (which is kind of a weird dream for a kid) to get a book published. That’s all I ever wanted.

Then, of course, I lurked by the table, pretending I was a customer, to see if anyone picked up the book. I was probably reading a prop book upside down.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I’m old-fashioned. I like holding a book. I understand why electronic books are popular, especially among travelers, but I just love the experience of holding a book and turning the pages. Books are like friends to me.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Read, read, read. Quality books will seep into your own writing. And I got the hang of writing in other people’s voices by listening to people’s conversations on the subway, and then running home and trying to replicate them on my computer. It was a very helpful exercise.

What are you reading now? Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which is excellent, and The Children’s Book By A.S. Byatt. And Baby 411, my favorite baby advice book ever.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: I love novels that completely immerse you in a time and place. To that end, I highly recommend The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, a creepy ghost story about the remaining members of a venerable old English family who live in Hundreds Hall, a crumbling mansion in the countryside. I wasn’t wild about the ending (I could go on here but I don’t want to give anything away) but until then, I thought the novel was perfection, the sort of book where you’re so absorbed reading it that you’re irritated to stop for a meal or take a shower.

Just for fun:
Favorite Season: Autumn. I do everything autumnal that I possibly can: pumpkin picking, shuffling through the leaves, drinking hot apple cider. Buying mums. Making molasses cookies.

Morning or night: Morning! I’m up at 6:30. It’s particularly nice in New York City, where I live, because the cars aren’t out yet and the air is as fresh as it’s going to get. I bound out of bed for my coffee and newspaper. It never gets old! It was very easy to adjust to an early-rising infant, I must say. She wakes up at 6:30, too.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Chocolate peanut butter from Haagen-Dasz, which I can never find but oh how I love it. And apparently they have a special flavor called Fleur de Sel Caramel, and I’ve searched everywhere in vain. One day I will find you, Fleur de Sel Caramel!

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: I love to travel and have a long, long list: Buenos Aries, Budapest, and Kenya are at the top.

Review: Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?

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