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Heather Havrilesky compares her husband to a pile of laundry

More hints of mayhem follow this – of marital illness and shedding dogs and squealing children and things like that; mainly of 1950s TV comedy – but what they demonstrate about marriage as a “scene” seen by “everyone” I’m not sure. I only know my own marriage, like hers, and I want to hide its worse moments. Marriage is – for myself and others – a secret.

“The suburbs are where people come to embrace the dominant model, because the dominance model makes them feel safe and comfortable.” A dominant pattern? In America today? As often happens in the book, Havrilesky’s big wedding is an example, the pattern here being in the heads of the author and those in her particular cohort and feeling completely out of date, like as a tribute to traditions that were once thought to be dominant but now order Americana music or consciously “basic” styles of dress. Indeed, the suburbs she describes – with the addition of brutal fighters sacrificing to educate their children – consider it quite a novelty. However, the focus of the text is on large lawns, lawns with warning signs about dog poop, concerns about property values, and other clichés.

I suppose that’s the point – suburbs are cliché – but it’s also possible to complain about them in this fashion. Havrilesky, to her credit, says as much, but she moves forward nonetheless, voicing answers of quiet desperation. “Becoming a part of a community,” she commented, recreating the vision of heavy ledges represented by legions of forebears, “turned out to include countless hours trying to look good. relax while you worry about your inner self.”

The attraction to the genre, the yearning for definitive publicity, is unfortunate in a writer whose signal gift is for pleasant, intimately descriptive prose. (Probably much to her husband Bill’s disappointment.) One of the best episodes of the book involves a tumultuous last-minute cross-country road trip with too many miles and too few bathrooms. The cut-throat low-key comedy comes with the insane intimacy of traveling by car with the kids. It’s a brave feat of family portraiture: savage, tender, suffocating. And Bill comes alive, free from the gravity of the author’s self-centered consciousness. In fact, the trip is a climax for their partnership, after which their story turns somber, drifting toward a stalemate romance, the possibility of infidelity, and a medical crisis. pain. We’ve spent enough time with the couple up to this late stage so the universality of their predicament doesn’t need to be asserted to be appreciated. Betrayal is betrayal. Fear of death is fear of death.

But what is marriage? A paradox. This appears to be Havrilesky’s final answer, but she abandoned it first and repeated it throughout. It’s “mundane” but “strange.” It’s “tired” but “exciting.” It’s bad but good in a thousand different ways that cover almost every marriage ever made but there doesn’t seem to be any of them, except perhaps for her. That she feels it’s especially exemplary in an age of domestic improvisation screening is somewhat of a mystery and a source of controversy, even from the grumpy, annoyed Bill.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/books/review/foreverland-heather-havrilesky.html Heather Havrilesky compares her husband to a pile of laundry

Fry Electronics Team

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