Next Best Thing (Weiner) - Author Bio

Author Bio
Birth—March 28, 1970
Where—De Ridder, Louisiana, USA
Education—B.A., Princeton University
Currently—lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Jennifer Weiner wrote her first novel, Good in Bed, from real-life heartbreak, and it rings true as a result. The main character, Cannie Shapiro, puts a long-term boyfriend on hold; when he writes a column about "Loving a Larger Woman," she spins into a depression, questioning her breakup as her ex moves on.

Cannie has several similarities with Weiner: Both are Philadelphia journalists who went to Princeton, and both have struggled with being larger women. They've also both been hit hard by their parents divorcing; and like Cannie, Weiner has a mother who has come out of the closet. Weiner jokes on her website that after college, she was "qualified to do nothing but write self-conscious short stories about [my] parents' divorce." As with many writers, trauma has become a mixed blessing for Weiner; who writes candidly and potently about the pain of being from a "broken home."

Weiner's books are immediately comfortable, with smart, movie-worthy dialogue and characters that are almost always engaging, if not likable. It would be (and has been) easy to categorize her work as "chick lit," and she might not even argue with that; but to do so is a bit facile. It undercuts the effortless intelligence that Weiner injects into her writing, her characters dropping references to Steinbeck and Andrea Dworkin as they apply MAC lip gloss.

Since her 2001 debut, Weiner's fictional themes have matured, as well. Although she mostly ties up her stories with satisfying neatness, she never shies away from the messiness of life. Her work resonates with real issues faced by countless women: the complexities of family relationships, the challenges of motherhood, and the exasperating, seemingly unsolvable mystery of men.

Weiner delivers terrific recreational reading, but imbues her characters with a wit and complexity that goes beyond beach-reads. It's fitting that she has called journalism "just about the perfect career for aspiring young writers." She has developed her skills as a journalist and columnist, and focused them on creating characters who could be you, or your friend.

Extras
From a 2004 Barnes & Noble interview:

• Weiner's first job was a stint as the education reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania.

• Her real-life dog, Wendell, appears frequently in her writing. In Good in Bed, he insisted on a pseudonym, "Nifkin."

In her words:

• In my dreams, I am a backup singer. Not a lead singer, because I don't dream that big (at least, not vocally), but a backup singer.

• I have a nanny. I say this first because I recently made the mistake of posting on someone else's web site using the phrase "as a working mother." I was promptly flamed for aligning myself with my embattled sisters in the trenches when I'm fortunate enough have a nanny who takes care of my fifteen-month-old daughter in the afternoons, and that's how I get my work done. So there. Nanny! And my husband and I will also occasionally hire a babysitter and go out Saturday night. I realize I'm torpedoing my shot at mother of the year with this, but what the hey.

• Reading is my number-one hobby. I also love walking with my daughter, either in her backpack or stroller. My husband is a wonderful cook, and I am a pretty passable sous-chef.

• When asked what book that most influenced her career as a writer, here is what she answered:

It's probably a tie between Nora Ephron's Crazy Salad and Fran Lebowitz's Metropolitan Life. Both of those books had such a great voice, such a smart, funny take on the world, and I thought that if I could grow up and sound like those women, whether or not I ever published anything, at least I'd keep myself amused and happy. (Author bio and interview from Barnes & Noble.)




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