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PROSPECT PARK WEST by Amy Sohn

PROSPECT PARK WEST

By Amy Sohn

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-7763-7
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The author of Run Catch Kiss (1999) gets domesticated.

In the late ‘90s, Sohn turned her romantic misadventures into a regular gig with New York Press and a debut novel. But what does a sex columnist do when she grows up? She gets married, moves to Brooklyn, has a kid and writes all about it, first in New York magazine’s “Mating” and “Breeding” columns and now here. Sohn’s first novel appeared with chick lit’s first wave and earned positive reviews for being smart and edgy. Mommy lit was, in retrospect, the inevitable successor to all those novels about pink cocktails, designer shoes and true love, but Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It, which arrived in the United States in 2002, was the simultaneous genesis and apotheosis of that genre. Sohn’s latest seems more than anything like an attempt to cash in on a trend. The novel follows the intersecting lives of four very different women. Rebecca is a freelance writer with a baby girl and a husband who is basically perfect in every way except that he no longer wants to have sex with his wife. Lizzie’s commitment to attachment parenting may be at least in part a reaction to her ambivalence about her mixed-race child and his mostly absent musician father. Melora is a famous actress with an adopted son and serious problems. Karen is a stay-at-home mom, a real-estate fetishist and a total sociopath. All these women live in Park Slope, and their bemused “only in Park Slope!” observations are the novel’s most annoying feature.

Sohn deserves recognition for addressing some rather dark issues and for avoiding tidy conclusions, but her story would have been significantly more satisfying if she had understood that the phenomena she chronicles, from one-upmomship on the playground to the libido-less marriage, have been well documented beyond the confines of brownstone Brooklyn.