A Review of Sorts: Unwifeable by Mandy Stadtmiller

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


When I first saw this book on an Instagram Story of someone I follow, I thought nothing of the pretty pink cover and put it on my Goodreads "to read" shelf for another day. I trusted their taste in books and screenshotted quite a few others to add to my list without looking up the descriptions. A week ago, I headed to McNally Jackson to pick up a book or two because I stupidly came to New York without any books and temporarily forgot that I set my 2018 reading goal of at least one new book every month. I had about a week left in April when I picked up two books (Unwifeable, of course, but also Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng which is, fun fact, based in a suburb of Cleveland and gives me weird bits of nostalgia) and realized that if I wanted to keep up my goal, I had to get reading and quick.

Lucky for me, Unwifeable by Mandy Stadtmiller was impossible to put down. Memoirs and books of essays are among some of my favorite books to read. However, I don't tend to read them as quickly as I read fiction books. For the most part, there's not a huge sense of plot and you can pick up and read it in pieces as you please. Unwifeable was too juicy to put down even for a second. I've never read a memoir so fascinating and honest. Mandy Stadtmiller named names (and a lot of them) and told the story of a thirty-something divorcee who moves to New York in the mid-2000s to work for The Post and divulges in a life of, uh, dating and partying and all sorts of debauchery that had me legitimately clapping a hand over my mouth at some recounts.

I mean, what do you expect from a book that has an excerpt of a review by Courtney Love on the front?

This book had me feeling two types of ways, both polar opposites of each other. My guilty pleasure is gossip, but I don't like to indulge frequently because it makes me feel way too nosy and kind of gross, but this book appealed to that part of myself. I mean, homegirl names some fucking names. I think she left out one or two names and everyone else either got their first names splattered across the pages, if not their full name. On the other hand, an on a much deeper note, there were moments where she discussed her childhood and her parents through various conversations with therapists and it...hurt. It's rare that a book can make me feel the weird, raw ache that those scenes did and it really proved Stadtmiller's range as a writer. And all I have to say to that is: well, duh, have you seen her portfolio, Francesca?

Listen, as salacious and juicy as this book is, it never loses its integrity. Stadtmiller is in a league of her own in terms of writing. There isn't a line or detail out of place. While she certainly isn't teetering on the line of under-sharing and over-sharing (she's probably well over the line, but that's what makes this book what it is), somehow everything still seems tasteful, even when she tells someone that she's probably sucked one hundred dicks. It's the little details like that that give the book its personality, its spirit of who she was years ago, the full picture of what it was like to be in her shoes during that time.  One chapter will have you doubled over laughing. You might feel that pang in the pit of your stomach during the more raw moments where she's self-reflecting or recounting memories she suppressed for years because they were so awful. You'll feel frustration when she fails at sobriety and ending the cycle of getting fucked up and blacked out. It's a rollercoaster of emotions that will never leave you feeling empty by the end.

Have you read Unwifeable? What did you think about it?

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