A collection of witty anecdotes in which a 30-something woman combines her divorced friends’ stories with her own experiences of marital breakdown to explore the chaotic divorce culture of the late-20th century.
Offering hilarious insight into the entanglements of divorced couples, novelist Karbo (Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me, 2000, etc.) presents her vocabulary pertinent to the divorcee dating scene, introducing terms like “divarried” (to describe separated “couples where one still pays the other one’s rent, who still send each other birthday presents, whose shoulders are perpetually available to cry on”) and “Exatitus A” (a disease that makes “you loathe while continuing to love the one who left you, usually for someone else, and you alternate between wanting to murder him and get him back”). Her live-in boyfriend, Matthew, remained “divarried” to Claudia—a wrathful lunatic who purchased livestock to combat depression and fetishized Winnie the Pooh characters. Had Claudia not clogged Karbo’s answering machine with belligerent messages, threatened suicide, and destroyed Karbo’s underwear (after breaking into the couple’s bedroom), this account may not have been written. The author’s comical depiction of the “bovine” Claudia, although mean-spirited, seems well deserved: “For months after The Underwear Episode, Claudia behaved like a nine-year-old girl angling for a pony.” Much of the tension between Karbo and her boyfriend transpired because of his reluctance to quash Claudia’s intrusions. Between insightful reflections on this tumultuous love triangle, Karbo amuses with keen observations of her friends’ marital mishaps, showing us nerve-wracking scenarios in which Brady Bunch–sized families are haunted by the father’s two ex-wives. Occasionally there is a depressing glimpse of the hapless divorcee’s unfortunate financial realties. Still, Karbo bounces us back to laughter with her outrageous interpretations of the historical divorces of Picasso and King Henry VIII.
A laugh-out-loud read that will delight divorced readers and children of broken homes alike.