Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WHAT I’M READING: ‘Up for Renewal’

“Up for Renewal” follows writer Cathy Alter as she takes on the task of letting magazines guide her life.

Alter, a divorced Jewish woman living in Washington, D.C., sets out on the task of letting "O," "Cosmopolitan" and "Glamour" teach her about love, sex and starting her life over. And in 12 months, she manages to do just that.

First, she learns how to wrap a sandwich to bring to work using a clingy plastic wrap. Then, she learns how to make a whole meal. She even learns to get rid of her "upper-arm jiggle," to be comfortable with going camping, how to live without washing her hair every day and how to paint her apartment.

One of the reviewers on the back cover of the book said it feels like you’ve made a new friend when you read it, and that’s really how I felt. While I chuckled slightly and felt significantly more domestic than Alter as she stumbled through her sandwich stage, her voice is open and honest and it is very easy to feel sympathy for her many failures.

Of course, the book isn’t for everyone. For one thing, there are several references to Alter and her co-worker having sex at work, which may be too much to handle for some. Others might just not understand Alter’s personality.

I lent “Up for Renewal” to a co-worker who was going through a renewal face, and she hated it.
“This woman can’t even make a sandwich,” was the first thing she said.
“But didn’t you think it was funny?” I asked.
“Not really. She gives all Jewish women from Connecticut a bad name.”

She quickly handed the book back, as if not wanting to be seen with it near her desk. But that’s OK. We can’t all like the same thing. I am currently having my “Monster of Florence” co-worker read it just to see if I’m crazy, or if she likes it too.

I’ll get back to you on how that goes.

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