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Generation Ex: Tales from the Second Wives Club Hardcover – April, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Providing solace, advice and commiseration for anyone trying to make sense of a family tree gone haywire with divorce and remarriage, this hilarious latest effort by novelist and journalist Karbo (Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me) is like a fresh breeze setting everything right. From the first page, she grabs her readers by the shoulders and gives them a good, hearty shake, advising them, for example, that when one has to coexist with one's own ex, spouses' exes and the children of the various unions, "failing to know when to shut up is a genuine liability." Most importantly, she advises, one should fall silent when compelled to speak uncharitably about one's ex to the child one had with that person. In fact, Karbo emphasizes, many exes stay locked in old patterns for the sake of their children, resulting in a limbo she terms "divarriage." Of course, children can also provide a handy excuse for maintaining contact with an ex. Her numerous evocations of scenes between ex-spouses achieve an unerring blend of screwball comedy, tragic drama, feel-good fantasy and stalker flicks. Engagingly relating such incidents as the time her partner's ex-wife methodically cut up several pairs of Karbo's underwear with cuticle scissors, along with excerpts from a book of poetry by her best friend's ex-husband called My Ex-Wife Looks Like Ginger Rogers, Karbo makes ample use of her narrative instinct and canny eye for human foibles. (Apr.) Forecast: Dozens of self-help books on divorce have enlivened the market, but Karbo's contribution is a new breed. If she's half as engaging in person as she is on the page, her national author tour could help the book earn big sales.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Karbo, a journalist (Sports for Women), novelist (Motherhood Made Me into a Man, LJ 7/00), and divorc e, bemoans the lack of divorce books that cover subjects such as how to treat one's ex-anniversary, equitably sort out child care duties, and deal with an ex's possessiveness. Having collected anecdotes from other divorc es as well as providing her own, she has filled her own niche with this breezy, mostly irreverent look at what happens when two inextricably linked people suddenly come apart. From jealous ex-wives to postdivorce dating, she hits all the major minefields. Other "second wives" will especially appreciate her discussion of the convoluted relationships that are a by-product of any divorce, especially one involving children. Ultimately, however, this book bounces around too much to be much use as a self-help guide and is instead recommended for public libraries as a memoir. Pam Matthews, Gettysburg Coll., PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582341265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582341262
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,569,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karen Karbo's first novel, Trespassers Welcome Here, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a Village Voice Top Ten Book of the Year. Her other two adult novels, The Diamond Lane and Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me, were also named New York Times Notable Books.

Karbo's 2004 memoir, The Stuff of Life, about the last year she spent with her father before his death, was an NYT Notable Book, a People Magazine Critics' Choice, a Books for a Better Life Award finalist, and a winner of the Oregon Book Award for Creative Non-fiction.

Her short stories, essays, articles and reviews have appeared in Elle, Vogue, Esquire, Outside, O, More, The New Republic, The New York Times, salon.com and other magazines. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a winner of the General Electric Younger Writer Award.

Karbo is most well known for her best-selling Kick Ass Women series, the most recent of which is How Georgia Became O'Keeffe, published in 2011. How to Hepburn, published in 2007, was hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "an exuberant celebration of a great original"; #1 ebook best-seller The Gospel According to Coco Chanel appeared in 2009. Next up: Julia Child Rules, which will appear in October 2013.

In addition, Karbo penned three books in the Minerva Clark mystery series for children: Minerva Clark Gets A Clue, Minerva Clark Goes to the Dogs, and Minerva Clark Gives Up the Ghost.

Karen grew up in Los Angeles, California and lives in Portland, Oregon where she continues to kick ass.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Although most adults in the United States now know someone who has been divorced, grew up in a household where the parents divorced, or have been divorced themselves, most don't understand the full implications of that change in marital status. The divorce doesn't end the relationship. It just changes it, often for the worse, especially if children were born to the couple. When people remarry or date again, they end up being connected to all kinds of exes in the process. This book fills in the gaps for those who are still naive in this area.
Ms. Karbo has a fine comic sense, and employs it well to describe her experience with Matthew after her own divorce. He was someone she met while teaching a class for children, and she was impressed by him. While they were dating, he would avoid the subject of his ex-wife. The two of them came home one night to find Ms. Karbo's underwear cut up and to hear violent threats from Claudia, his former wife. They ended up at the Holiday Inn for the night. The rest of the book recounts how the relationship developed with Matthew and Claudia. In between, she uses historical and current examples to illuminate the points she wants to make about divorced people.
With her own divorce having been amicable, Ms. Karbo didn't know what to make of this experience. She mentioned it to others, and one woman asked, "You're not married to Ron Garber, are you? That's his ex-wife's thing." She learned that "a lot of people, an entire generation of exes, were having many of the same experiences."
In most cases, the effect of the divorce was to cause the ill feelings to fester. She discovered this when she met Adele, the crazy ex-wife, on a plane trip.
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Format: Hardcover
....yes, this non-fiction book about relationships after divorce surprised me. I read Ms. Karbo's other books and enjoyed them, and though not divorced, started reading this one. Initially I thought it really was awfully Erma Bombeck-like - you know, cutesy, breezy, stating the obvious cliches to invoke a laugh of recognition. Lots of divorce statistics, lots of divorce stories, an interesting chapter on Henry VIII, and Ms. Karbo's own interesting messy life with A New Man. I thought this book was aiming for a "how to live happily ever after" with stepkids, but was surprised and intrigued by how the New Man's ex-wife intruded on their lives . This ex-wife was a truly awful, disturbed, intrusive failure with a severe personality disorder who just would not let go of her ex husband. She called him with every excuse possible several times an hour. She could not hold a job. She could not handle money. And the ex husband put up with this for one reason - the child they had together. The poor child in the custody of this loon, used as a hostage and negotiating chip. Poor Ms. Karbo, watching the New Man take it and take it and take it. Poor New Man, wanting only to live his life with his new honey but forced to put up with neverending harassment for the sake of his daughter. Not physical abuse, mind you, just mental and verbal, but there was always that underlying threat of bodily harm to somebody. I was wrung out! Quite an interesting book!` The moral of the story, which cannot be repeated too many times: BEWARE of entering a relationship with a divorced parent, if the other parent is anywhere in the picture.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been married thirty years. I'm not Gen-X or whatever they're calling themselves now. I think multiplying sex partners is probably a good way of multiplying germs that haven't even ever been discovered yet. And they might be bad germs. That said, I wouldn't have ever read this book on my own (like you might'nt've already guessed), but it tumbled into my hands on a recommendation a whole lot better than this one, and I never let go of the covers until I was done with it, which, believe me, required a 'git away from me I'm busy' growl every now and then. This book? Well, it's a little bit of story and a little bit of fact, but what it is mostly is a whole lot of fun. If you think that in divorce and disharmony, in alimony and acrimony, you can't find even a bit of levity and disacrimony, well buddy, think agin and read here..
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Format: Hardcover
I get surly when I hear Karen Karbo compared to Erma Bombeck, just because she's funny, and because she happens to write about domestic issues (hey, so did Tolstoy). A better analogy for Karbo's work would be the deliciously-apt cultural anthropology that Nora Ephron did for Esquire Magazine in the 70s. Karbo's barbed humor, and talent for a howling aphorism, bring Dorothy Parker to mind, with the notable difference that Karbo is in excellent mental health--a shrewd, savvy, but SANE observer of the human comedy. GENERATION EX is a complex book--not exactly how-to, not exactly memoir, not exactly reporting--but a wonderful combination of all of those elements. Highly recommended.
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By A Customer on October 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book was exactly what I needed! The author did an exceptional job at writing this book to be "laugh out loud funny", and is written in such a way that you can't help but put all of the frustrating things about your boyfriend/spouse's Ex into perspective. I'm sure that in the future, instead of allowing myself to become upset and stressed with my new man's reports of the latest phone call from his Ex, I will instead recall the chapter in Karen's book where she describes and labels the different types of phone calls that one can receive from the Ex. The description of the "Going Mental, F*** You Division" call is my absolute favorite.
This book is a must read for anyone involved in the circle of Ex's - and will definitely be a re-read for me! Offers a great perspective into all of those annoying, frustrating, and stressful situations that you will no doubt encounter at some point.
Warning: if you are one of those types who has no sense of humor and can only recognize all of the pain and suffering involved in divorce situations, this book is NOT for you. If, however, you're ready and willing to accept things as they are and "move on", this book will be exactly what you've been looking for!
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