Synopses & Reviews
Crackling with intelligence and original humor, The Position
is a masterful take on sex and the suburban American family at the hilarious height of the sexual revolution and throughout the thirty-year hangover that followed. Meg Wolitzer, the author of the much-acclaimed novel The Wife
(named a notable book of the year by the New York Times Book Review
, Los Angeles Times
, the Washington Post
, and Newsday
), takes another huge step forward with this new book and showcases her distinctive voice, pitch-perfect observations, electric wit, and depth of emotion.
In 1975, suburban parents Paul and Roz Mellow write a Joy of Sex-type book called Pleasuring: One Couple's Journey to Fulfillment, which becomes a surprise runaway bestseller. The Position opens with the four Mellow children, aged six to fifteen, at the moment when they see the mortifying book (and the graphic, pastel illustrations of their parents' creative, vigorous lovemaking) for the very first time an experience that will forever complicate their ideas about sex, parents, families, and themselves. The book brings a strange celebrity and small fortune ("sex money" the children call it) to the Mellows and ultimately changes the shape of the family forever.
Thirty years later, as the now-dispersed family members argue about whether to reissue the book, we follow the complicated lives of each of the grown children as they confront their own struggles with love, work, sex, death, and the indelible early specter of their erotically charged parents.
Some novels are about family, and others are about sex. The Position is about sex within the context of a family. Insightful, witty, panoramic, and heartbreaking, it is a compulsively readable novel about an eternally mystifying subject: how a group of people growing up in one house can become so very different from one another.
"Neurotic siblings and embarrassing parents are familiar (even required) elements of the literature of suburban nostalgia and malaise. Wolitzer (Surrender, Dorothy; The Wife) doesn't tamper with these basic ingredients in her latest novel, but she gives them a titillating twist. Paul and Roz Mellow are enthusiastically in love so much so that in 1975 they write a how-to sex book, Pleasuring, that features illustrations of them in every imaginable position. The book becomes a runaway bestseller. When the children find the book and read it together, they're forever traumatized, in ways both serious and comedic. Flash forward 30 years: Paul and Roz are long divorced and remarried, and Paul, in particular, remains bitter; the grown children fumble through their lives on the eve of the publisher's reissue of the sex classic. The oldest, Holly, has settled into late motherhood after a lifetime of nomadic drug-taking; uptight Michael suffers from chronic depression; Dashiell, a gay Log Cabin Republican speechwriter, is diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease; and insecure late-bloomer Claudia returns to her Long Island hometown to finally figure out how to be a fully functioning adult. If the characters are rather stock, and the musings on love, sex and family familiar, Wolitzer nevertheless bestows her trademark warmth and light touch on this tale of social and domestic change." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Each book Meg Wolitzer writes is better than the last wiser, funnier, deeper, more daring, even more rhapsodic but I can't imagine how she will ever top this one. The Position is the most moving, enthralling, shamelessly perceptive new novel I've read in years. It is the kind of book I'm always searching for but rarely find, one whose characters captivate me so completely that I am left, on the final page, wishing for a sequel while knowing that the story is complete. In her portrayal of the ordinary yet equally remarkable Mellows, Wolitzer illuminates so many truths about our families, our culture, and our era that I am sure I will continue to muse about them, with great pleasure, for some time to come." Julia Glass, author of the 2002 National Book Award winner, Three Junes
"I've been marveling at [The Position] since page one, and now that I've finished, I'm stopping people on the street. I love the premise, the characters, the story, the writing, the eye, the ear, you name it. If this book doesn't win prizes, I'll eat my galley." Elinor Lipman, author of The Pursuit of Alice Thrift
"I especially admire the way Meg Wolitzer has taken what is potentially
a funny, knowing satire of an unfortunate 70s moment and deepened it
into a wise, engrossing book that takes in just about all of the past
few decades. I love books that take the long view of my generation's
families (Corrections, Ice Storm, Middlesex) and this stands right with
them. I imagine it will do very well indeed." Stephen Amidon, author of Human Capital
"...Wolitzer is a witty, bold, and upbeat satirist, and this is one scintillating, wily, and wise novel." Booklist
"Immensely readable, if occasionally flat. Wolitzer is best when she stirs the pot of familial and generational tensions." Kirkus Reviews
"Wolitzer seems both sympathetic and bemused by her characters, allowing the novel to be both comedic and alarming at once. But it's the smart, confident prose that makes this a page-turning read." Providence Journal
"As an authorial presence, Wolitzer is motherly in the best way: engaged, caring, but never intrusive or judgmental. She may love all of...her novels equally, but The Position is certainly her richest and most substantial." Washington Post
"What elevates The Position above its somewhat formulaic concept is Wolitzer's incisive sensibility....Wolitzer's novel movingly probes the difficult transition to adulthood..." Newsday
"Meg Wolitzer is a master storyteller....I highly recommend this intelligent and thought-provoking work, which offers readers subtle resolution and hope." BookReporter.com
"You know families are this funny, you know they are this weird. But never has this realization been such a welcome and entertaining relief." Philadelphia Inquirer
The author of The Wife (named a notable book of the year by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post) takes another huge step forward with an ambitious and exhilarating new novel about sex, love, the 1970s, and one extraordinary family.
About the Author
Meg Wolitzer's novels include Sleepwalking; This Is Your Life; Surrender, Dorothy; and The Wife. She lives in New York City.