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Bad Mothering Poster-Mom Ayelet Waldman's Got a New Book Out

“Feeling passive-aggressive?” writes Berkeley author Ayelet Waldman in a recent email blast.  She reminds us that Mothers Day is coming up and suggests that we send a message to our favorite bad mother. Her new book (she suggests) is just the ticket.  Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace is coming out on May 5 and Waldman will be reading from it at the KPFA Benefit on May 4.

Many in Berkeley and elsewhere might think that Ayelet is herself the worst mother they know (of).  The author (and wife of Michael Chabon) received a barrage of hate-mail when she wrote, in The New York Times, that she would rather her kids die than her husband. She also wrote about their awesome sex life. Moms went insane, Oprah audiences were apoplectic. Flaming mad Salon readers flamed madly.

Her worst hate mail?  Waldman recalled that “some horrible woman who lived in Berkeley wrote to her that 'people in Berkeley love their children and you hate your children, and your children should be taken away from you.'" Ouch.

Waldman added that “what I was really doing was writing about maternal ambivalence. People are much more willing to see it fictionalized than they are to see it in real life.”

Fictionalized bad-mothering has been her bread and butter. Waldman has amused an army of cranky women with her lite lit for lactating mamas. Her series, The Mommy-Track Mysteries follows an amateur sleuth, who is not unlike Waldman herself, a former Harvard Law student-turned public defender -turned stay-at-home mom.  

Her 2006 novel, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits has been adapted for film, starring Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman. It comes out later this year. Let’s hope, for the sake of the Chabon-Waldman children,  that it makes a bigger splash than their dad’s recent book-to-movie fizzler The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.