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Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner In San Diego To Talk About Her Memoir 'Hungry Heart'

October 20, 2016 2:19 p.m.

Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner In San Diego To Talk About Her Memoir 'Hungry Heart'

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Jennifer Weiner, author, "Hungry Heart"

Related Story: Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner In San Diego To Talk About Her Memoir 'Hungry Heart'

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

One of the funniest writers is giving a talk in San Diego.. -- Books like good in bed, good night nobody. In her shoes which was made into a film starting best starring Cameron Diaz. She is also a video blogger. Now she has a memoir called hungry heart. As expected, it is honest and funny and very revealing about her life and career. Jennifer Weiner, will come to the show.
Thank you for having me.
What about that chiclet? Does the literary world still use that?
I think all of us chicks are married with children and some of us are divorced and remarried with children. At this time I would be overjoyed if somebody called me a check. I talk about this in the book. The genre became really popular in the wake of Bridget Jones and with books like girls guide to hunting and fishing and otherwise engaged. There were imprints devoted to those titles. You couldn't walk into a bookstore without seeing a table full of books with pink covers. Then got like many trends, a winged and some writers survived. Those of us who did are now called the authors of commercial women's fiction in case you're wondering, there is nothing like commercial men's fiction. That is just fiction.
Reporter: why is this such a target of criticism?
That is a question I could talk about all day long. Think back to what you read in high school. Think back to Dickens and Hawthorne and Shakespeare and Jonathan Edwards and John Updike and John Cheever and all the John's and the Jefferies and every once in a while they would throw you a Jane Austen. We were taught that literature with a capital L was what men wrote. What were -- women wrote has always been dismissed as small and domestic and specific to that woman's experience. It was autobiographical. These are very deep-seated diocese and deep-seated double standards. It is hard to come out of high school or, like me, I was an English major in college. That meant viewed red dead white men. It is hard to come out of that and be able to read women's books unbiased, I believe.
Reporter: how different was it for you to actually write about yourself in your memoir, hungry heart?
It wasn't so scary to write. I am able to write and put myself in a room with just me and the page. I'm telling a story and not thinking about audience or reception or what the critics will say. It is when the publisher has it that I worry about that. I got very word. I know how women's fiction is received and I know especially how women's memoirs are received where it is a lot of eye rolling and TMI and over share. The things that men are praised for discussing, women get told that that is just gossip or that is just messy or no one wants to hear about that. In fact, remember my publisher telling me to refer to this as frequently as I could as an essay collection, not at memoir. When you'd talk about women's memoirs there is a certain tone to the conversation. I was hoping to avoid that as much as I could.
Reporter: going back, why did you want to share those parts of your life with the public? I must interject Much of your book is very very funny. Some of it is serious. You do write about your miscarriage and your father's death from drug abuse. Why did you want to share those parts?
There is a quote that I always go back to by Muriel Rock Kaiser. What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would crack open. I was not looking to crack the world open. I did not want that to happen. I think this election is doing a fine job of that. What I believe is that there is power and there is comfort when women tell the truth about their lives. I think specifically about my first pregnancy and my first delivery and being a new mom and how I struggled and how hard it was and how lonely I felt and how isolated because I had never read or heard anything about what it was really like or what it felt like like the hardest thing I had ever done and the loneliest thing I had ever done. I thought, I have read people magazine, I have read novels, nonfiction Scott essays, I have never read anything that talked about this. I decided, I was 45 years old when I wrote the book and I had a lot of living behind me and a lot of front of me. I wanted to tell the truth about it. I wanted to leave those stories there for other girls and women so if they went through something like that or even just anything hard that they would know that I had been through it also. Probably a lot of women had.
It must be astonishing for you, considering that it is primarily what you write about, this presidential campaign now revolves around issues of the treatment of, lack of respect of women. What is your reaction to that?
I am terrified, anguished. I wake up in the middle of the night and I think about the world that my daughters are going to grow up in where a man can talk so casually about assaulting women. Let's be honest, the Donald Trump.that is not locker room talk her boys being boys. This is a wealthy, privileged man speaking honestly to another wealthy privileged white guy. He is saying I am a star and I can do whatever I want. I am watching the way the women who have come forward are being treated. I am hearing a presidential candidate make fun of the body of his Democratic competitor. She walked in front of me and I wasn't too impressed with eyes all. I am thinking, where my. What world is this? What happened? In the way I guess it is good that we flush this into the open. We can say all right, if this is how men see women and men talk about women, if this is how men talk to each other when they think there's no one listening, we have a problem. We need to address it. On the other hand, I am just very, very sad because, you see conservatives and Republicans say why didn't these women come forward, what took them so long? I just want to say that look at how you're treating them. Look at how you are mocking them. Look at how you are saying that that one is not even hot enough to be assaulted as if they work that way as if it was a crime of desire and not a power.
Michelle Obama said she was shaken to her court and I thought, I am shaken and upset and disgusted and anguished.
It has been a pleasure. Thank you so much.