Welcome to my blog. I am Miriam Downey, the Cyberlibrarian. I am a retired librarian and a lifelong reader. I read and review books in four major genres: fiction, non-fiction, memoir and spiritual. My goal is to relate what I read to my life experience. I read books culled from reviews in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Bookmarks, and The New Yorker. I also accept books from authors and publicists. I am having a great time.
Hope you will join me on the journey.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Last Blind Date
by Linda Yellin
New York, Gallery Books, 2011
318 pages Memoir
Finally! A happy memoir! No abuse, no dysfunctional parents, no rising above adversity!
Linda Yellin tells the story of loss, love and life in her amusing, but thoughtful memoir, The Last Blind Date. This is a book for any woman looking for love in middle age or looking for love following death or divorce. This is a book for anyone needing a good laugh. This is for anyone looking for an uplifting story. This is for anyone.
Although she was divorced from her first husband, she stayed with him as he was dying from cancer. Following his death, Yellin fell into a funk, which included a disastrous, but very funny dating scene. She outlines briefly the major failings of the men she was meeting and dating; the fixups, the blind dates, the “Bozos!” Then,she was introduced, via telephone, to recently divorced Randy, who lived in New York City, while she lived in Chicago. They began a slow courtship that included weekend trips, visits to parents, introductions to Randy’s two young children, and protestations from Randy that getting married was not part of his 5-year-plan.
More than half of the book occurs following their marriage. Yellin would not move to New York without being married. When she tells a Chicago cab driver that she is flying home to New York, early in the marriage, he asks her how long she has lived there. (We already know that she sounds like a Midwesterner because of a very funny section on trying to lose a Midwestern accent.) She tells him that she has lived there for two months because she got married. He looks her over and remarks, “And you couldn’t find a guy in Chicago?”
She tells of the difficulty of adapting to work in New York, following a successful Chicago advertising career; adapting to marriage again; adapting to life in New York City; and adapting to being the step-mother to two children. She calls them the “stepfruit-of-my-loins as she overthinks every aspect of her relationship with them. Luckily, Randy is a laid-back husband and father, and life smoothes out over time.
The best part of Linda Yellin’s memoir writing style is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She looks at the things that happen to her with both understanding and humor. It doesn’t hurt at all that Randy approaches life with the same strengths. Additionally, the humor comes naturally. There is nothing forced; she doesn't have to keep telling herself, "I need to add a zinger right here." The power of her humor comes from the way in which she views life, with a healthy respect for the irony present in most situations.
One of my favorite chapters is about a trip to get her eyebrows waxed by a stylist, which is going to “change her life.” When she returns home after this amazing experience, she approaches Randy in a totally New York outfit with totally New York eyebrows. He is hard at work fixing a small appliance. She says, “Honey, do I look different?” He hardly looks up and responds, “You look great!”“Regular great or different great?” “Always great! Do you mind stepping out of the way? You’re standing in my light.” Yellin’s thoughts at that moment: “My life hadn’t changed because of reshaped brows…and it hadn’t changed thanks to new clothes. My life changed when I married a man who looked at me, really looked at me, and still considered me beautiful.”
One blog reviewer mentioned that The Last Blind Date restored her faith in memoirs. “I have found only a very few authors who have been able to write with enough objectivity while maintaining their own humanity that I have become a believer in some memoirs. This is one of them. (The other is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls).” I too loved The Glass Castle. But I could also recommend Mennonite in a Little Black Dressby Rhoda Janzen and Working It Out by Abby Rike, although Working it Out is a much darker memoir. When you consider The Last Blind Date, think Sleepless in Seattle.
I met my husband when I was in my mid-fifties. Frankly, I had given up on dating—it was just too depressing. This was a blind date set up by a mutual friend. My New York daughter-in-law dressed me for the experience; I was so nervous I thought I was going to die, because somehow I knew that this time it was going to be different. As I approached the restaurant, I called my Mommy for support. She said, “Miriam, you’re a lovely person. He is going to like you. Everything will be fine.” And it was.
My step-daughter is involved in a London-Boston romance with a man with two children. She is leaving for the holidays to be with him in London. He visited her in Boston last month. This book is definitely for her to let her know that all things are possible.