"...these essays are jewels of the unexpected, and in introducing them, I don't want to steal any of their surprise. Suffice it to say that family life...is alive and well, but it is not like anything you ever read about before in your life."
-- Jane Smiley, from the foreword
The nuclear family peaked in 1960 with 45 percent of the American population. Many decades later, the tidy ensemble is rare. Relationships, baby making, sex, dating, divorce -- they aren't what they used to be. But the mainstream media keeps the reality of American life a secret, only leaking the occasional tidbit to remind us that those in "unconventional" configurations are a sad anomaly to be pitied or ignored.
Life As We Know It offers proof in its most engaging form -- the personal essay -- that the big guys have got it wrong. This collection of blunt, lyrical, and often very funny work from award-winning Salon.com tells the true stories about how we live -- of hustling fertility drugs, losing a child, hating dad, and coming to terms with a parent who was the voice of "Frosty the Snowman" on TV. First-time writers and critically acclaimed authors like Amy Bloom, Kathryn Harrison, Susan Straight, and Benjamin Cheever, plumb the familiar to deliver portraits of moments, seasons, and eras that we recognize or long to understand.
This brazen and confidant collection from Salon.com's"Life" column features revealing expositions on the complexities, tensions and nuances of contemporary life. Writers share their personal experiences and ruminations with an emotional and intellectual honesty and aplomb, creating the feeling that one is sneaking a peek in some stranger's diary. Hank Pellissier relates, with touching humor, the story of impregnating both his wife and a lesbian friend and the emotional turbulence the pregnancies evoke. In"Saucy Soccer Moms," Matthew DeBord divulges his secret longings not for the stick-thin supermodels most men desire, but for the middle-aged mom who spends her days driving her kids to after-school activities and striding purposefully down the aisles of the local supermarket. The authors express themselves eloquently and passionately; even those readers who don't share the everything-goes attitude expressed in these 39 essays will appreciate their honesty and intelligence.