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Taffy Brodessor-Akner on Writing About Divorce

“What Does Your Husband
Think of the Book?”

On writing a novel about divorce when you’re still married.

By Taffy Brodesser-Akner

It finally happened in New York, a month into my book tour, when I was doing one of those readings of my novel where, if you’re extremely lucky, much of the audience has already read the book and comes just to talk through their feelings about it. The question—which I had been waiting for for a while and had allowed myself to think might never come—came from a woman in the back row.

“What does your husband think of the book?” One person made a toothy nervous face, but for the most part they sat and listened, unable to believe the question was even asked. They didn’t notice the small shift from the corner, where my actual husband stood. Nobody did. Just me. It was hard to read his face, which is one of his best traits and also one of his scariest.

I had been asked the question a great many times by then, not always so directly. Certainly it was on people’s minds: a married woman writing about divorce. My mother and my sisters, who felt bad for my husband, Claude, that I would drag him through a fictionalized (but by how much?) story with a narrator who matched up against me biographically (and maybe in other ways) pretty specifically. There were the moms at school, who asked if I was going to let my kids read this (and one who asked if I was “worried” that my parents would). A friend, on reading the book, referring to the narrator’s hapless, steamrolled husband as “the Claude character.” Read Taffy’s full piece at Slate.

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