“A first-rate personal essayist, Susan Orlins delivers the goods time and again. Underneath her self-mocking voice, her abundant humor, her brio, there is the serious candor of a moralist who worries the problems that won’t go away.”
—PHILLIP LOPATE, author and editor of The Art of the Personal Essay
“Susan Orlins is America’s funniest neurotic since Woody Allen. Just be careful you don’t crack a rib reading Confessions of a Worrywart.”
—PATRICIA VOLK, author of Stuffed
“Susan Orlins combines the practical with the comical. A multi-tasking mom, she knows how to show and hide her feelings simultaneously. When you have the time (the kids are out of the house and your mom is in a home), read this book! You will identify and laugh.”
—SYBIL SAGE, writer for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Growing Pains, Magnum P.I., Northern Exposure
“Toxic chemicals. Tomatoes. Getting the bed by the window in her future nursing home. What’s NOT to worry about? Just ask Susan Orlins, America’s funniest worrywart—not because you want to wring your hands, but because you want to laugh out loud. Her offbeat take on all challenges, great and small, is a delight.”
— DIANE MACEACHERN, Author of Big Green Purse
“The book is fabulous, I really love it . . . so open . . . such great stories . . . such a fun read!”
5.0 out of 5 stars To Life With Love, February 9, 2013
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This review is from: Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Mothers, Lovers and Others (Paperback)
Susan Orlins’ memoir “Confessions of a Worrywart” is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Startlingly honest, Ms. Orlins provides snapshots of the different phases of her life — her rebellious younger years in high-school and in college at Penn, her care-free and footloose single years in Washington DC, a seemingly happy (second) marriage and then painful divorce, and then life as a single mother of three daughters and as a woman “of a certain age” still searching for romance and lost youth. At times wistful and poignant, often hilarious, her story focuses on her loves and losses and is told with wit and grit.
The cast of characters from her life (“husbands, lovers, mother and others”) are vibrantly portrayed. Ms. Orlins’ polished prose makes for easy reading, and she is a master of metaphors that vividly color passages like her paintings that she once sold in flea markets to supplement her income. Thus in describing her frustrations with the older singles-mixer scene she writes, “The occasional attractive guy my age always seemed to be hunched in conversation with a blonde whose neck was as smooth as a Pinot Grigio bottle …..”
Although clearly a worrier (hence the “worrywart” in the book’s title) you come away with the impression that Ms. Orlins is, in fact, one of life’s happy warriors with an optimistic take on life but one that is grounded in a totally realistic awareness of herself and her place in the wider scheme of things. In the end, the book leaves you with positive feelings and an appreciation that life’s imperfections can be faced with grace and humor. This book is a must for people who like reading contemporary memoirs, for the worrywarts among us, and for all those who, as the song goes, are still “in love with love.”
Susan Orlins’s CONFESSIONS OF A WORRYWART is a sometimes-hilarious, often-poignant, and always-charming memoir about growing up, loving, living, and ultimately finding oneself. Orlins began life as Susan Fishman, free-spirited juggler of boyfriends, bicycle trips, and quiche. After marriage to Jeff in the late 1970′s, she became much more of a world traveler, including extended stays in China and Hong Kong, trips to Paris, and a home in Washington, DC. She also became a mother, which seems to be when all the “worrywart” stuff kicked into high gear (Orlins worries about pretty much everything, from whether her kids will be run over by cars as they cross the street to whether her dog has self-esteem issues to the horrors of bedbugs). Through it all, Orlins considers what it means to be a woman growing older in a world that values only youth, and what it means to be an older woman alone, without a man (she divorced Jeff after eighteen years of what she concludes was a successful marriage).
CONFESSIONS OF A WORRYWART is written in a series of vignettes chronicling such things as Susan’s high school boyfriends (one of whose neck, she said, smelled of starched shirts), her first marriage (which ended almost as soon as it began), her life with Jeff (good, bad, and everything in between), her children, her divorce, and her struggle to find the connection between Susan Fishman and Susan Orlins (what would young Susan think of her much older counterpart?). She writes in a witty, self-deprecating voice that is both immediately accessible and totally engaging. I found myself laughing time and again at the many ways Orlins’s thoughts mirrored my own (her “Plane Crash Fantasy,” in which she imagined a quick and painless death for her husband, was particularly memorable).
I think what I liked most about this book was the thoughtful way Orlins writes about the joys of being alone – taking solitary walks and bike rides, sipping coffee while reading the paper, or sitting with a book and a beloved dog at the end of the day. She has always had friends (and she delights in writing about them), and her romances have far outnumbered my own, but in the end she realizes that being alone in her own skin is an intoxicating experience. This isn’t a book about divorce and neurotic worrying – it’s a book about the journey we all take to find ourselves after decades of living among others. At the end of CONFESSIONS OF A WORRYWART, Susan Orlins worries that she just might find another man to fall in love with, which would get in the way of the walks, the rides, the books, and the dog. “There must be reasons people pair off into living spaces,” she writes, “but I can’t remember what those reasons are.” This is a woman who is comfortable with herself, in spite of the worrying. And that alone makes her words, and her wisdom, valuable and rare. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys memoirs and likes to laugh at the craziness of life.
[Please note: I was provided a copy of this book for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]
I loved this book. It was a refreshing look at life: full of worry, yes, but also lighthearted and fascinating. The players in her life are exquisitely portrayed, and her life traces a history relevant to all of us. She goes from starter marriages to the Cultural Revolution in China; from roles as daughter and mother to adventurous lonesome traveler. Highly recommend.