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Showing posts from 2013

New York Times Bestseller List!

What My Mother Gave Me is #16 on the May 26th New York Times Bestseller List (nonfiction paperback)!! Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible - most especially my 30 co-authors.

For those who couldn't come to any of our events, our evening at the New York Society Library on May 7th is here on video, with contributors Margo Jefferson, Martha McPhee, and Roxana Robinson. It was a full house, and we learned during the Q/A that contributor Jean Korelitz's mother was in attendance, as was our favorite cultural concierge, Head Butler, Jesse Kornbluth, who recommended the anthology for Mother's Day - and beyond.

Thanks one and all!

Celebrating and Missing Our Mothers This Week

I have been so moved by so many responses to What My Mother Gave Me, from radio broadcasters to this email from the director of a senior center in Connecticut: 

"This morning over coffee, I was sitting with a few members talking about your book, What My Mother Gave Me, and the reactions were priceless. The conversation was difficult for some, joyful for others and appreciated by all. Especially for our older seniors, talking about their own  mothers is now a  relative rarity.  Our book discussion group has added the collection to their list for this summer."

Wednesday, May 8, contributor Cecilia Muñoz and I talk to NPR's Michel Martin, on her show "Tell Me More," during the last third of the hour. Please check here to find out what time the show airs on your local NPR station. 

Among the many new reviews are this one from Ladies Home Journal, which recommends giving a box of tissues with the book. And these words from FIRST for Women, May 20th issue, print only: 


AARP, Head Butler & the Indie Bestseller List

It's been a wonderful week for What My Mother Gave Me. Our event, with contributors Mameve Medwed and Charlotte Silver, at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, was great fun, and family and friends - and maybe even a few people we didn't know - came out in abundance. Thanks to the bookstore and to Mameve and Charlotte.

AARP's on-line magazine gave us a rave review, by Bethanne Patrick, and so did Jesse Kornbluth, journalist extraordinaire and cultural concierge, at

From Bethanne Patrick at AARP"What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gift That Mattered Most, edited by novelist Elizabeth Benedict, features fond-but-wise recollections by some high-candlepower daughters: Joyce Carol Oates, Roxana Robinson, Marge Piercy, Rita Dove — you get the picture. These essays are not fluff pieces. (Not a chocolate box or silk scarf in sight, I’m happy to report.) Instead they’re deeply considered, deeply felt writings on identity and relationships."

Amazon's Top-10 Books Picks for Mother's Day

I was thrilled to learn that What My Mother Gave Me is one of Amazon's Top 10 Book Picks for Mother's Day - especially given the company, including Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.

Mother's Day is May 12. Visit our Tumblr page, look at photos of the gifts our mothers gave us, and find your favorite bookstore. Best news: it's a paperback, with a cover price of $15.95.

"How do you approach Mother's Day?"

A MOTHER'S GIFTS LAST A LIFETIME by ALICE CARY How do you approach Mother’s Day? With reverence and joy, or sorrow and trepidation? Are you fulfilled, exhausted or both from being a dutiful child or caretaking parent? No matter what your emotions, these engrossing books about mothers, children and parenting are bound to speak to you. Particularly wonderful is a collection gathered by Elizabeth Benedict, What My Mother Gave Me. READ MORE

Oprah Gets Involved - a Free e-Reader too

If you're a tweeter, Oprah Magazine/website & Algonquin, publisher of What My Mother Gave Me, are having a contest to give away 2 new e-readers loaded with the anthology, and a copy of the book itself. Take a look here.

What's 1 thing your mom has taught you? Tell us & you could win a @kobo ereader &/or copy of #WhatMyMotherGaveMe:
— O The Oprah Magazine (@O_Magazine) April 22, 2013

Finally, A Book My Grandmother Would Like ...

The story of my grandmother, my first novel (chocked with sex), and another sort of first book, just published on Huffington Post's Book Page: My grandmother never used to phone me, so when I heard her voice on the phone that night in 1985, I was startled. "I just read your book," she said sharply, "and I don't like it." She meant my first novel, Slow Dancing, which had recently been published by Knopf and greeted with far more attention than I had expected, "When are you going to write a book your grandmother will like?" I knew what she meant: the book was filled with sex -- the pre-marital kind -- and references to it, beginning with the opening line. MORE...

Indie Bestseller ~~

Join me this Sunday, April 21, at the Westport, CT Public Library, talking about What My Mother Gave Me, co-sponsored by the Barnard Club of Connecticut. 2PM. Here's the info

In other happy news: What My Mother Gave Me has made the extended Indie Bestseller List. Today we're number 38. Who knows how high we can climb. Algonquin has made it easy to purchase the book--it's an original paperback, with a cover price of $15.95. 

AND if you go to your favorite indie and buy a Kobo (the indie answer to a Kindle) from now until May 13, you get a free copy of the anthology loaded on your e-reader. Here's the offer, which is sponsored by Algonquin. 

Thanks for checking in, thanks for reading.


A Good Week for Mothers and Daughters

It's been a great week for the launch of the anthology. Tuesday night at one of the country's premier bookstores, Politics & Prose, in Washington DC, we had our debut panel reading and discussion, with contributors Susan Stamberg and Eleanor Clift. We were honored to be introduced by P & P's co-founder, Barbara Meade, who came out of retirement to welcome us. The event was taped and will soon be on the P&P website. I'll post that here once it's up, and you can see the energy and emotion that gripped all of us. Thanks to everyone who came, to everyone at P&P, and to Eleanor and Susan. 

The book got a fabulous review the following day by a women's organization, Changerous, written by Kirsty Clarke Brown, which includes my favorite review line to far: "This is not a sentimental read." 

Yesterday, at Barnard College, my alma mater, I spoke to a group of alumnae over brunch about the book, about gifts, men, women, mothers and families. 


Susan Stamberg, Eleanor Clift & Me @ Politics & Prose, Washington DC

Our kick-off book event is this Tuesday, April 9th at 7pm, with contributors Susan Stamberg and Eleanor Clift, two legendary women broadcasters. Susan was one of the founders of National Public Radio, and was the long-time host of "All Things Considered." Eleanor has been a print journalist at Newsweek and the Daily Beast, but may be best known as one of the liberal voices on the McLaughlin Group, on PBS. We'll be talking about mothers, daughters and gifts at Politics & Prose, Washington DC's wonderful bookstore. Details are here

Please join us. If you'd like a signed copy of the book but can't make it to the event, please call the store in advance, buy your book over the phone, and request that we sign it.  Phone numbers: 202 364-1919 - 800 722 0790.

Longing, grief, and hard-won forgiveness...

MORE magazine likes us, they really like us (May 2013). 

What My Mother Gave Me is one of five books on mothers they reviewed "that dig deep": 

"Longing, grief, and hard-won forgiveness pervade this essay collection by a stellar group of writers as they take stock of the gifts, visible and invisible, their mothers left behind." 

Congratz to all the writers of these fine essays.

My First Time ... Getting My Picture Taken by a Pro

Thanks to FOBBIT author David Abrams, who curates the blog Quivering Pen, for inviting me to tell him about My First Time ... getting my picture taken, by legendary photographer, Tom Victor (RIP), which you can read right here. Tom was the go-to author photographer in the 1970s and '80s, and most famously took pictures of Susan Sontag - and lots of others.  Thanks for taking a look.

Dahlia Lithwick's "Plant Whisperer" on

Thanks to for previewing Dahlia Lithwick's wonderful essay from What My Mother Gave Me, "The Plant Whisperer." The book is out next Tuesday, April 2, but available now in many indie bookstores. The buzz on the book is great. The essays are - in my completely biased view - totally awesome. Huge thanks to all the contributors and the publications that have been running the first serials.

Early Magazine & Blog Reviews are In~

I'm heartened to see so many early, positive reviews of What My Mother Gave Me already on-line, including this from ForeWord Reviews: “A single gift can easily tell the story of an entire life,” writes Elizabeth Benedict, editor of and contributor to the anthologyWhat My Mother Gave Me. In the book’s case, a single gift has the ability to tell the story of two lives: mother and daughter. Here, thirty-one women writers spanning five generations essay their way into the stories of their relationships with their mothers, with a particular present serving as the writer’s muse. The impressive lineup of novelists, poets, columnists, journalists, and essayists includes both a National Book Award and MacArthur Fellowship recipient, a US poet laureate, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic, a television producer, and a civil rights activist."

I'm particularly thrilled by the kind words of Book Diva, who writes: "I highly recommend this book to everyone, it is not only inspi…

What My Mother Gave Me: 31 Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most

The pub. date for my new anthology is April 2nd. In the run-up to it, and once it's published, you're invited to post photos of your favorite gift, with its story, from your mother, on this tumblr site. In the meantime, take a look at the gifts the writers' mothers gave them! So far, Joyce Carol Oates' mother's quilts are posted, along with a sexy pair of leopard skin ankle boots, from Charlotte Silver's mother. They are both contributors to the anthology. You can go to the tumblr site to read more about the book and pre-order a copy. It's an original paperback, and lists for $15.95.

Art vs. Commerce: Writing for Love & Money

When asked her advice to young writers, Grace Paley said: "Keep your overhead low." For some practical advice and war stories on living as a writer mostly outside the academy, please join me and a raft a wonderful writers, Sat. March 9 at the AWP in Boston, for the panel I'm moderating: ART vs. COMMERCE: WRITING FOR LOVE & MONEY. My fabulous fellow panelists are Maud Newton, Stephen McCauley, Steve Almond, and Stephen Elliott. 3:00 to 4:15pm, Room 210, Hynes Center, Boston.

12 Steps of Book Lust & Beyond

(first appeared on

1. We admitted we were powerless over literature-that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than our humdrum lives could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our book shelves and e-readers over to the care of Book Lust as we understood it.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our bookshelves, our closets, and our e-readers.
5. Admitted to Goodreads, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our obsession.
6-12. And so on.

Speaking of obsessions, it's wonderful to be here among those with similar/identical obsessions - those searching for What to Read Next, What to Recommend, maybe even What to Write.

These days, I'm bouncing between projects, or is it "among" projects, since there are more than two?

 1. Working on a novel I started 3 or 4 times over the years, kept putting aside in frustration, and looked at a few months ago and saw something I though…