Sunday, April 15, 2012

John Donatich - I'm in Love with his Words

Who, you might ask is John Donatich and how did I find him? That's an especially apt question when you consider that my library system only owns one copy of his first book and it's improperly catalogued. I'll have to check usage and see if anyone else accidentally came upon him.

Serendipity is a wonderful word and, in my case, it often works. Betsy Lerner is a writer and editor whose blog I've been following for several years now. She is a pistol! Wry, funny, angry, blasphemous and talented, she posts one paragraph every day and never misses. Reading her is one part checking in with an old friend and another part keeping my pulse on the publishing world.

She recently mentioned that she'd thrown a book party for her husband's first novel, The Variations, which I immediately ordered. I wondered what kind of tough man could be married to this over the top woman. I discovered that he had written another book a few years ago called Ambivalence, A Love Story - Portrait of a Marriage. (not fiction as we have it but a memoir) And a beautifully written memoir at that.

Prompted by their decision to have a baby, move out of Manhattan and become suburbanites, John Donatich wrote the most honest, funny, sensitive paeon to fatherhood that I've ever read. Beginning and ending with the birth of Rafaella, Donatich's book is made up of a series of vignettes that examine his upbringing, his early career, his friendship with Betsy, the melding of their Catholic and Jewish cultures, depression, miscarriage, and pregnancy (with a hilarious take on the LaMaze boot camp).

But it's his style, his beautiful words, his sensitvity to the nature of relationships, his recognition of the supreme difficulty and joy of a marriage when you accept that you're in it for the long haul, that knocked me out. I kept interupting Don from his own reading to say "listen to this line, listen to how he says this!" Of course, I love that they are book people.

He quotes or refers to so many disparate authors in the course of his writing, from Henry James to E.B. White. On top of that, John Donatich speaks of Myron Floren and k. d. lang in the same hysterical paragraph as he confesses to his love/hate relationship with the accordian. Ya gotta love it! LOL as the kids would say.

Friends often ask "how was your weekend?" and then look askance when I say, "perfect, I didn't do anything!" How, some think, can that be fun? Don and I had lots of plans for this weekend but as yesterday passed companionably and we lost our ambition to even leave the house, I settled on the lanai with John while Don prepared a Senegalese stew for dinner and we were each as happy as clams - no ambivalence!


Jessica said...
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Jessica said...

"Ambivalence" has a lifetime circulation of 37. Maybe now it will check out more often.