Women. Women who write. Women who write and who love dogs.
I’ve just finished reading both of Lisa Scottoline’s collections of essays out of order. By that I mean that I read her most recently published book first: My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space.
I laughed all the way through it and because I didn’t want to stop laughing, I tracked down the first one she wrote in 2009: Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. Both books are easy reads — each chapter is about 900 words — and Scottoline’s writing is razor-sharp, spot on, and hysterically funny.
For those of you not familiar with this woman, she is a single mom who writes crime fiction with strong female characters. She sums up her life this way:
I’m an English major who became a lawyer, though I always wanted to write a novel. After my first divorce, I found myself single with a young baby (don’t try this at home). I wanted to stay at home to raise my baby, but I had no dough. My back was against the wall, so I decided to finally try to write that novel. I figured you can’t get any broker than broke.
Turns out you can.
I wrote for the next five years, living on credit cards, nursing my baby by day and reading rejection letters by night. Yet it was a deliriously happy time of my life.” (Preface; 1st page of Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog.)
Her characters are smart, independent, loyal, stubborn, funny and opinionated. Kind of like Scottoline. And, a few of them have Golden Retrievers. Also like Scottoline.
The intimate details of Scottoline’s two marriages are in the spaces between the words. Life this: “It’s fun to do something dumb. Not something really dumb, like my second marriage. That was really really dumb. ” (Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, pg. 69.) No messy overflow from whatever led up to her second marriage and subsequent divorce. We’re left to fill in the blanks, if we choose. Scottoline has a more important point to make.
Her next sentence (new paragraph) leaps into what she really wants to focus on which is a story about a pony named Buddy. If you were looking for a “bare-my-breast-tell-all” kind of essay, this is not that essay.
In fact, none of her essays are that. She writes about real estate ads, her dogs, her daughter, her mother, and her brother, fashion from the perspective of a women who is fifty-something, holidays, holiday shopping, best friends, and chasing a run-away pony with the help of one girlfriend and a few cops. Things that are, for her, the ordinary parts of her life. The every-day parts that ultimately add up to a life well lived and celebrated.
And, what she does throughout both books, is urge US to celebrate the ordinary things in our lives.
She’s on the other side — the feisty side that says I’ve put my time in, paid my dues and can still find the funny in my life, and, if YOU look closely, there’s still some funny in your life too.