Fleishman Is In Trouble
I did not like this book when I started it. That’s a caveat. The author has a powerful message, but she takes her time sharing it. Actually, it wasn’t until the last 10 pages of this 373-page book that I got it. Once I did, the book took on far greater meaning. Actually, once I did, the book took on brilliance.
FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE by Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a portrait of modern marriage, of the truth about women in the workplace, of the challenge of being a mother and the price marriage demands from women, of equality and inequality and reaching mid-life and wondering where you are and where you’re going.
This isn’t a work of in-your-face feminism, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you suspect that the deck is stacked against us, and you want proof, give it a go.
Is this book witty? Yes! Articulate? Yes! Intelligent and insightful? Yes!
That said, I found it seriously flawed. It is far too long – particularly in light of the importance of the message and the endless time it took to get there. For the first half of the book, I felt that the author was enjoying her own cleverness. Did we really need so much of it and on so many topics? Okay. Maybe men do think about sex all the time, and maybe teenage daughters are morose, and maybe women are more like the worst of Big Little Lies than we want to believe.
But it gets boring to read about after a while. I mean, we get the point. Too often the narrative felt like an essay for the New York Times Magazine, where the author is a staff writer. Such narrative was amusing, often funny, but distracting.
The risk of distraction is that the reader gets bored and stops reading. I nearly did. And what a crime that would have been. The last part of this book blew me away.
As I write this, FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE has been long-listed for the National Book Award. I totally understand the acclaim, even mostly agree with it. Mostly. But not all. This is not a perfect book.
Still, the brilliance of the writing and – yes! – those final pages warrant my four-star rating. I’m eager to hear the reactions of the people who’ll be reading it now that it’s on our radar.
But oh, oh, oh, for a good editor.