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Are Tidying and Squabbling the New Sex?

A client of mine sent me this article from The Guardian recently which talks about a splashy new commercial novel, Christina Hopkinson’s THE PILE OF STUFF AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS, about parenthood and all its joys and woes (focusing on the husband woes in this case) that sold for a lot of money across the pond. In the US, Grand Central will be publishing the book later this month with a different cover.

The article goes into some discussion of books like this and their effect on feminism, and how that discussion has changed with time. I like the comment, “I think ultimately the answer is that men should do more and women should care less.” I can’t completely agree that as a blanket statement,” men should do more” as everyone’s situation is unique, and my husband does a lot, but I do see the point in the suggestion that women should care less. And it’s a good reminder to focus on the things that really matter (I don’t think a spouse leaving an empty milk container in the fridge or a full one on the counter applies). I also think there are a lot of women out there, however, myself included, who can relate to, and find humor in, the petty complaints about their spouses and family lives. Sometimes it is better to laugh than to cry.

I wonder if we might see a resurgence in this category if the book works well here in the US. I also wonder what our readers think about this category. Boring, overdone, trivial? Or are you open to seeing more stories of harried moms trying to balance work, life and family?

5 Responses to Are Tidying and Squabbling the New Sex?

  1. Lisa Marie says:

    Frankly? That sounds like a terrible idea, and even if I were a harried mom, the last thing I’d want to do is read about it. It’s why I’ve not been able to find many books that I warm to. I’m one of a smaller demographic – nonparents by choice (20 percent of the U.S. population) – so this lifestyle doesn’t resonate with me. Those of us who make up the “parties of two” generally find ourselves in more egalitarian relationships/marriages. This is the demographic that I’m targeting with my own writing and marketing plan.

  2. Suzi McGowen says:

    I loved Erma Bombeck’s take on that life, but she’s gone. Can anyone else do it better?

  3. I think that as long as being a harried mom is a part of life, it will be a part of our fiction. Obviously it’s not everyone’s life. The above poster makes a great comment, in that a harried mom wouldn’t necessarily want to read about one. As a harried mom, I’d say yes that’s true to a degree– but in the sense that I don’t want to read about the boring parts of anyone’s life, regardless of maternal status. Tina Fey’s take on being a harried mom is awesome.
    A funny, witty, honest, and observant story about the life of a harried mom sounds like a fine idea to me.
    Oh, and I thought sleep was the new sex.

  4. Ciara says:

    I’m in my 20’s and unmarried with no kids so I’m hardly the target audience but I do find books like this sort of silly. They make women look petty and silly and while we all have these little issues in our relationships are they really book-worthy issues? Having said that if you want to write it, write it and obviously someone is reading it so…well I suppose that puts me on the fence!

  5. Mmmm. This is just me, but … but … *struggling for words*…

    The appeal of such a book probably very much depends on how the overall tone is handled. Ideally, a feminist response should include constructive efforts to work out a more equal relationship. It shouldn’t be just about a girl calling a guy out. If feminism begins and ends with a bitch session, that’s a problem.

    Humorous commentary about a husband/ wife relationship balance – or even the lack thereof – is totally another thing, of course.

    Harried Mom Syndrome is also quite different from Clueless Husband Syndrome, I would guess. (And if you have both conditions, ouch.) Personally, I could possibly read a book about one or the other, but likely not both.

    However, the question is whether there would be a market for this category of fiction. Yes, I think there would. I might not write it or read it myself, but I think there would still be a lot of appeal. There’s a lot of contemporary women’s fiction that focuses on the woes of single life, and many people do bond or relate through shared hardships. If you are able to connect with these types of books about single life, there’s a chance you might be interested in reading similar books about married life, too.

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