Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stroller moms up close and personal

Chances are you've read about "Prospect Park West" without even reading it.

The new novel from Amy Sohn has Brooklyn writers abuzz with its satirical portrayal of Park Slope and its kid culture.

Louise Crawford of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn called it insulting, mean spirited and cliched, and in her Brooklyn Paper column found its biggest flaw to be that "the characters in the book are so busy being Gawker archetypes — celebrity mom, sexy bad mom, former lesbian mom, frumpy supermom — that they never take the time to laugh at themselves or make real connections with each other."

F---ed in Park Slope, loved it, which is not at all a surprise, since they do what Sohn does every day, say with much prescience: "This book has every single, solitary Park Slope stereotype, called out in neon lights for all to see--and Sohn will likely get a lot of shit over that. Especially from the loudest and proudest stroller Nazis patrolling the streets (and the interwebs) of brownstone Brooklyn. But that's e-x-a-c-t-l-y why I loved this book and think it succeeds so well."

Now, the Times has chimed in, trying to separate fact from fiction, and finding it is a slippery slope, with what seem to be exaggerated elements of the novel, such as swingers posting on Park Slope Parents, to be true.

In the piece, Sohn herself said she was surprised readers find the neighborhood to be portrayed negatively, saying, “I guess the book pokes fun at the more easily satirized aspects of the neighborhood, but I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Fiction or not, the nabe is sure to incite more response over its portrayal, as Sarah Jessica Parker has optioned the book for HBO. Bloggers, get ready.

By Meredith Deliso

(published in the 9.10.09 issue of 24/Seven)

Shopping at the Park Slope Co-op. Strategizing to get into a good public school zone. Hanging out with mommies at Tea Lounge.

Sound familiar? To readers living west of Prospect Park, it might.

In Amy Sohn’s novel, “Prospect Park West” (Simon & Schuster), the former New York magazine columnist takes a biting, satirical look at the culture of Park Slope motherhood.

Fans of the blog F---ed in Park Slope, which does just that on a daily basis, are sure to enjoy the adventures in “Park Slob,” as the book follows four SAHMS (stay-at-home moms), or “SHAMS,” as it calls them, including the fictional actress Melora Leigh, young mother Lizzie who lives in Prospect Heights with her musician husband, Karen, who’s swept up in the kiddie culture, and Rebecca, a self-aware, freelance writer who it is safe to say is based on the writer herself.

The constant name-dropping, plays on words (Tea Lounge becomes “Teat Lounge,” Lizzie, a former lesbian, calls herself a “hasbian,”), and window into the characters’ sex lives reads like “Sex and the City” on a microcosm level. It’s no surprise then that Sarah Jessica Parker has optioned the book for a TV series on HBO.

The book is out now, and you can also meet the writer in person when Sohn appears in, not Park Slope, but Cobble Hill, at Book Court September 15 at 7 p.m. Leave the strollers at home.

Book Court is located at 163 Court Street. For more information, call 718-875-3677.


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