- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Scribner (March 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 074326178X
- ISBN-13: 978-0743261784
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,158,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Position: A Novel Hardcover – March 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Neurotic siblings and embarrassing parents are familiar (even required) elements of the literature of suburban nostalgia and malaise. Wolitzer (Surrender, Dorothy; The Wife) doesn't tamper with these basic ingredients in her latest novel, but she gives them a titillating twist. Paul and Roz Mellow are enthusiastically in love—so much so that in 1975 they write a how-to sex book, Pleasuring, that features illustrations of them in every imaginable position. The book becomes a runaway bestseller. When the children find the book and read it together, they're forever traumatized, in ways both serious and comedic. Flash forward 30 years: Paul and Roz are long divorced and remarried, and Paul, in particular, remains bitter; the grown children fumble through their lives on the eve of the publisher's reissue of the sex classic. The oldest, Holly, has settled into late motherhood after a lifetime of nomadic drug-taking; uptight Michael suffers from chronic depression; Dashiell, a gay Log Cabin Republican speechwriter, is diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease; and insecure late-bloomer Claudia returns to her Long Island hometown to finally figure out how to be a fully functioning adult. If the characters are rather stock, and the musings on love, sex and family familiar, Wolitzer nevertheless bestows her trademark warmth and light touch on this tale of social and domestic change.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
Wolitzer's novel of sexual politics and family farce continues in the dark comic vein that she mined in "The Wife." In the nineteenseventies, at the height of the sexual revolution, a married couple, aptly named Mellow, publish a liberated sex manual that features pictures of themselves and includes a sexual position—"Electric Forgiveness"—that they claim to have invented. The manual becomes an epochal best-seller. The publication, decades later, of a new edition of the notorious classic is a catalyst for a plot that examines the effects of this legacy on the adult children of the Mellows, who are now divorced. These effects are variously hilarious, disabling, painful, embarrassing, and, ultimately, empowering. Wolitzer's comic timing never wavers, and she has an astute grasp of the way one generation's liberation inspires the next generation's pity.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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Top customer reviews
Guidance was absent, and the love affairs in the book were nothing short of desperation and pathos. The only two characters from the entire book I was actually rooting for were the younger pair of siblings, though neither had much to recommend them as human beings other than shy, self-loathing and political rebellion and alternative sexual preferences. I felt only sympathy for them. The drain of reading this novel was almost enough to give me sexual dysfunction and the need for antidepressants.
Normally, I read rather quickly, I devour books like some people eat M&M's, however it took me almost a week to get through this book. The real disappointment was that I had looked forward to reading it with eager anticipation. What a disappointment to see the droning vocabulary and the sleepy progression of the book. I found myself skipping over large segments of text in a skimming fashion, hopeful that the next paragraph, chapter or character introduction would bring something substantial to the story. But the methodical presentation of all these unconnected and mournful characters did nothing to add to the enjoyment of a wasted effort. The only thing that I looked forward to was the end of the novel-- not because of a resolution I craved or at that point even felt hopeful of having, but rather so that I could say I had finished it and never have to open it and feel the cold, choking dread of continuing another word of this book. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless you prefer books that will make you feel awful and add no enjoyment to the hours of your day.
This is a book for a more mature reader who likes complex characters. There is a story, but it's not plot-driven. It's like... upper middle class fiction? I guess. Not high art, certainly not mass production typical stuff. If you think you're kind of intellectual, just a little bit maybe, you should check this out.
Just on and on crowding in all these dramas and dysfunctions and internal voices of just about every character mentioned.
I never felt drawn in or deeply cared about any of them or their stories. Yes, families can be fascinating in their interconnections and how parents, children, siblings impact who we are - just not so much in this book.
I did get a kick out of the positions described in the book--especially the electric forgiveness, which was at the same time self-important, goofy and difficult while ultimately failing to deliver any pleasure.
Most recent customer reviews
But interesting insights into middle America