19 February 2009

The Position by Meg Wolitzer

Flap Copy:
The Position is the story "of one extraordinary family at the hilarious height of the sexual revolution -- and through the thirty-year hangover that followed.

In 1975, Paul and Roz Mellow write a bestselling Joy of Sex-type book that mortifies their four school-aged children and ultimately changes the shape of the family forever. Thirty years later, as the now dispersed family members argue over whether to reissue the book, we follow the complicated lives of each of the grown children and their conflicts in love, work, marriage, parenting and, of course, sex -- all shadowed by the indelible specter of their highly sexualized parents."

When I first read the back of this book I thought it sounded potentially hilarious and at the very least quite interesting. And while the premise certainly is interesting, Wolitzer falls a little flat on her delivery. The story begins in the seventies when the Mellows first publish their how-to sex guide (featuring illustrations of themselves in all the positions!) but rapidly moves to the present day and focuses on the current lives and loves of the four grown children.

It's hard to imagine, but this story truly was boring. The book was well-written, the author's way with language and humor was fairly adept, and yet I was just soooo bored. The adult characters were really still just whiny adolescents blaming their parents for all their problems, and the parents were now retirees unable to accept the realities of age and still stuck in the memory of their sexual heyday.

Wolitzer's primary focus in the book is certainly the notion of self-discovery -- a worthy one for discussion and certainly relevant to any reader, as were other primary issues (family, expectations, sexuality, acceptance.) I think all the right elements were present in the novel but never quite achieved their potential. I give this book 2.5 stars - it would make a good beach read, but make sure you're wearing sunscreen in case you fall asleep!

1 comment:

  1. yeah this one was iffy for me too. I wanted to like it, but just couldn't ever get into it. too bad- it had a great premise...