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Dating Big Bird Hardcover – April 11, 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her bestselling first book, Animal Husbandry, Zigman took a wry look at the mating rituals of young urbanites. Here she uses the same ironic tone to address the rituals of reproduction and one woman's anxiety about deciding whether to become a parent. At 35, Ellen Franck is bored with her glamorous job as marketing director for a fashion designer; she wants to have a baby. But her boyfriend, Malcolm, has made it clear that he doesn't want to be the father. An older, once-celebrated author who now teaches more than he writes, Malcolm takes Prozac to combat the depression he's wrestled with since Ben, his son from his first marriage, died of leukemia at age seven. Ellen cares for Malcolm despite his emotional remoteness and diminished sex drive (a side effect of the antidepressants), but her one true love is her three-year-old niece, Nicole, aka the Pickle. With Malcolm unlikely to change his mind, Ellen is forced to examine her insemination options, at one point kicking around the idea of co-parenting a child with Big Bird: "Big Bird would be the ideal parent. He's warm. He's affectionate. He's had a stable job for as long as I can remember." Will Ellen and her new best friend, Amy, who shares her "Pregnancy Fantasy Disorder," opt for artificial insemination and single motherhood? Settle for partners who'd make good fathers but less than satisfying husbands? Kidnap their nieces? Zigman's funny, conversational style draws the reader into Ellen's quest. Although the excessively happy ending is too pat to fit in with the wry tone of the rest of the book, the absorbing train of events and amusing dialogue make this a lark of a read. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Ellen Franck wants nothing more than to have a baby of her own. Already well into her thirties, she is beginning to fear that her "gumball machine" of eggs is getting low and that her time is running out. Unmarried and working in a fast-paced fashion-industry job, Ellen is dating Malcolm, an emotionally closed-off man who is so scarred by the death of his young son that he doesn't want any more children. Thus begins Ellen's search for a solution to her dilemma and the question she ultimately faces: Is she ready to have a baby by herself? Ellen's desire for a child is only fueled by the fact that she is surrounded by people having babies, including her boss, Karen, and her sister, Lynn. Lynn's first child, Nicole, is the ideal child in Ellen's eyes, and she spends every moment she can with Nicole, whom she has nicknamed "the Pickle." Ellen's closest single friend, Amy, wants a child as much as Ellen does, and they spend most of their time together commiserating about their dead-end relationships and envying people with children. Kristine Huntley

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (April 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385333404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385333405
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,529,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laura Zigman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (where she felt she never quite fit in), and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where she didn't fit in either) and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course (where she finally started to feel like she fit in). She spent ten years working (slaving away) in New York in book publishing where she was a (much-abused under-appreciated) publicist for Times Books, Vintage Books, Turtle Bay Books, Atlantic Monthly Press, and Alfred A. Knopf. After moving to Washington, D.C. (because she was burnt out and didn't know where else to go) and working briefly as a project manager for The Smithsonian Associates (she had a cubicle) and a consultant for Share Our Strength, an anti-poverty non-profit group (she didn't even have a cubicle), she (finally) finished her first novel (that she'd been writing in her 'spare time' for the last five years). (The thinly-disguised autobiographical novel) Animal Husbandry was published in 1998 by The Dial Press and became a national bestseller. It was published in fourteen countries (or more, she's not sure) and in 2001 the film based on the book, 'Someone Like You,' (they changed the title at the last minute because they were afraid people wouldn't 'get' the meaning of the original title -- not that she's complaining or anything) starring Ashley Judd and (excuse her while she drools) Hugh Jackman, was released by Fox 2000. Her second (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Dating Big Bird, also published by The Dial Press, came out in 2000, and her third (thinly disguised autobiographical) novel, Her, published by Knopf (where she once worked ' an exquisite irony), followed in 2002. Her latest (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Piece of Work, to be published by Warner Books on September 25, 2006 (finally, after four long years in between books ' maybe her parents will now leave her alone), is based on her (horrific but entertaining) experiences as a publicist and has been optioned by Tom Hanks' production company, Playtone Pictures, with My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos (luff her) set to write the screenplay and star in the movie (please God let that happen).
She currently lives outside Boston (in the same town she grew up in '- how weird is that? ' and where she now feels like fits in) with her husband and young son.
(Oh, and she finally has a website: www.laurazigman.com).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As she did in her first book, Animal Husbandry, Laura Zigman entertains her readers with both a witty and poignant read in her new book Dating Big Bird. The plot of this book is not a new one, but in this skilled writer's hands we really come to care about Ellen Franck, a 35 year old single woman who hears her biological clock ticking away.
Ellen has a good job, a nice apartment and one lovely 4 year old niece who suggests she takes Big Bird to bed with her to keep her compnay. And then Ellen, in one of the more humorous chapters of the book contemplates what it would be like to have a child with Big Bird. But being a bit more realistic Ellen thinks about her choices for parenting which include Malcom, her present lover who is emotionally frozen since his young son died several years before. As Ellen struggles to make sense out of her relationship and the passage of time, Ellen's sister and boss give birth to their second children leaving Ellen totally desparate to have a child even if she's alone.
I did enjoy this book and it will most likely provide readers with a light summer offering but every reader must also be prepared for some serious moments which offset the humor and wit. And while today there are other novels and many magazine articles about this subject, Dating Big Bird is one of the better fiction reads one can experience on this topic.
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Format: Paperback
Dating Big Bird was a quick and pleasant read. That's it. I would advise against treating the book like a how-to manual aimed at single motherhood. It's not particularly believable, nor did I relate to Ellen, the protagonist, except in the most general "I want to have a baby someday and boy won't it look cute dressed up in little big people clothes" sort of way. I can understand the consternation a single mother might feel upon reading the book, as it's not a realistic depiction of single motherhood. Having said that, however, I still enjoyed the book. As Animal Husbandry, which was great, this is a humorous novel full of fun characters and quick plot and dialogue. My recommendation for Dating Big Bird, as for many of the other books I review, is to not take it so seriously. It seems, oftentimes, that people expect much more from a book than what the author might have intended to provide. So read Dating Big Bird, laugh and enjoy, but don't expect philosophical musings on the meaning of life.
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Format: Hardcover
Only read this book if you are single and consider having babies to be the meaning of life. The book's protagonist is completely obsessed with having a baby, with or without a man, and the entire book focuses on her baby obsession. Her view is that nothing else in life is more important than having a baby and that it's not worth waiting for the right man to have a baby with. To enjoy this book you would have to buy into the philosophy that a baby is panacea for a disappointing career and bad relationships with men. This fueled an anti-baby obsession in me, the whole time I was reading the book I was thinking, there is so much more to life than having babies... Laura Zigman's first book, Animal Husbandry, was excellent and remains a favorite for it's dry humor and applicability to single life.
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Format: Hardcover
For whatever reason, I find myself reading a lot of "chick lit" lately. Considering that my first love is horror, I'm finding it interesting to read the same things that so many of my friends are reading. I got this book without ever intending to read it, but I opened it and had to finish it.

Ellen Franck is yet another in a long line of successful, single, and neurotic New York City residents to grace the pages of novels in recent years. She works for a world-famous designer, and she dates Malcolm, a professor who is profound, kind, and impotent in more ways than one as a result of the death of his son. Now Ellen finds herself "staring down the dark side of thirty-five" and contemplating her future. She knows one thing: She wants a baby. She is crazy for her niece, Nicole ("The Pickle"), and she experiences heartbreak everytime she sees someone pushing a stroller on the street. What is a thirty-something gal to do when she doesn't have a viable partner to help her create a Little Pickle of her own? Well, if you're Ellen, you give yourself nine months to thoroughly research all your options, to drive everyone around you insane with baby talk, and to continue to obsess about every small detail of your life.

This is a super-fast read (I finished it in just a few hours), and it doesn't require a lot of deep thought. There are no life mysteries resolved in these pages, but Zigman manages to make this an amusing, fun read that is probably perfect to read on a day at the beach or in a few hours curled up on your sofa on a rainy day. Aside from Ellen's own obsessions, there aren't a lot of complex issues at work here. Also, if you are one of the women in her 30s who has never felt that desire to create a Little Pickle (like me), you might find it difficult to relate to Ellen's quest. Warning: This is the epitome of Chick Lit, and I don't think testosterone is allowed to open the cover.
(mellion108 from Michigan)
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Format: Hardcover
Ellen Frank is a 35 year-old woman who likens her reproductive system to a gumball machine, and the gumballs are running out. Having devoted most of her adult life to a career in the fast-paced yet shallow world of fashion, Ellen now finds a little voice telling her "they're just clothes" more often than she is comfortable with. Moreover, she finds herself absolutely smitten with her 3 year old niece, whom she affectionately refers to as "The Pickle." Ellen desperately longs for a Pickle of her own, but her Pickle-producing-profile is not promising. Malcolm, The man in her life is a compassionate and funny companion. The best one Ellen's ever had. Except he's a Prozac-induced impotent. Oh yeah, and her doesn't want kids. His life's is your basic tragedy: his only son died of leukemia, he became an alcoholic and his wife left him. He's frozen, unable to escape the dark shadows of his past. And yet Ellen loves him.She just doesn't know if she can get a baby out of him. I had trouble putting down this funny, lively book. Zigman does a wonderful job navigating Ellen's emotional roller coaster as she tries to determine how to become a mother, and who to include on her journey. It is a satisfying, feel-good read.
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