Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

March 2010 Selection: Why is my Mother getting a Tattoo?


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.

A 24 book giveaway will be posted to the Manic Mommies website within the next week. 

Click here to read my review - I am expecting a lot of storytelling and getting to know everyone a little more come March.  We were sharing stories last week after we finished discussing April and Oliver and I shared just one story from the book.

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

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.

MMBC: April & Oliver Discussion begins today!

The Manic Mommies Book Club is a year old this month!

Congratulations to everyone who read with us in 2009 and we welcome all of those who will be reading with us in 2010.

If you read April and Oliver but didn't have the chance to join the call I do have a few questions for you. As always, you can answer any or all of them or just leave a comment expressing your opinion.

Here are some questions for you, the reader: 
1)What was your overall view of the book? Did you enjoy it?
2)Both April and Oliver grew up without their mothers.
3)How was this important to the story?
4)Did you have a favorite part in the book?
5)How did your opinion of Bernadette change throughout the book?
6)Both April and Oliver grew up without their mothers.
7)How was this important to the story?
8)Lastly, do you have any questions for the author? If yes, leave them here and I will send them to the author.

We do have a few blogger's reading along with us. If you have blogged about the book, please leave the link to your post!

The following is a recap in my own words:

Tess has thirteen year old twins and is busy juggling family, writing and is also a teacher. April and Oliver is her first novel which was published in 2009. She is working on a second novel.

Tess start writing April and Oliver several years ago, it started as a short story. She put it to the side for a time and completed in a few years later.

April and Oliver are both motherless in the book, we wanted to know if mothers were included in any draft: The mother’s were not in any draft of the novel. Oliver makes a life change when his mother dies during his senior year of high school. He decides not to follow his mothers wishes and gives up music, making the decision to study something practical (law). April’s mom could have had a physical presence in the novel but with April being responsible for raising her younger brother Tess realized that April was really alone in life.

Was Buddy alive in any draft? He was never alive in the book but is such an important character to the storyline. He is alive in a way, by memories.

Is April based on anyone you know? She wears a thick personal to cover her vulnerabilities and has a resemblance of a passing friend but is really a fictional character.

Did you start this book knowing the general plot or did you begin with by creating characters and follow their journey? Tess mentioned that she starts with characters, weaving their history into a story. She doesn’t know what will happen until the words are written. She expressed being as surprised as we were at times during the book!

Use of water is throughout the novel, do you have an affinity with water (which is also the books cover). Tess found this question very interesting, she likes to view water as our subconscious (its unspoken, echoes the forces) and expressed being pleased with the cover.

Bernadette (Oliver’s fiancĂ©): We wanted her to hold her ground and stand up for herself. Did Bernadette change from the beginning to the end of the writing process? She did transform quite a bit from the first draft to the final version. Bernadette thinks with logic and doesn’t view April as a threat. Over time she sees that Oliver is spending too much energy/time with April. We did wonder if they would get married and were a little shocked by the events on their wedding day.

Other highlights:
- We also discussed Nana and her resemblance to Tess’s grandmother. Tess’s grandmother also had a necklace that she wore daily.
- The story of the kiss in the diner is loosely based on a true events.
- Tess has completed the first draft of her next novel
- Tess teaches writing to middle school students and loves helping children discover the passion of writing
- She tries to write during the day, when her children are at school