BY JOEY SWEENEY
We will freely admit that in the past (somewhere in our dashed archives, somewhere in the depths of the Wayback Machine) we have been unkind to the point of cruelty where Jennifer Weiner has been concerned. There’s no excuse for that, for going over the line, especially when what is right there, coming out of Weiner’s own laptop, provides so much that is available for easy scorn. There’s the work, the awful, hackish, heteronormative work; and then, there’s the manipulative Twitter tactics, where even her sometimes on-point shade gets lost in the desperate whinge that inquires at every turn, “But what about me? But what? About? MEEEEEEEEEEEEE?!” That’s kind of it, for Weiner. Two colors.
It’s Monday afternoon, and we find Weiner back at it, painting her duotones with wild abandon in a world that routinely answers her primary inquiry the same way, every time: You again? Yep, her again. This time around, Weiner is — again — kvetching from her Twitter account some crap about how she’s like, really conflicted and jealous and hurt from the potential style-biting of Oprah’s new book club pick. No, really: Jezebel unpacks it better than we have the patience to.
But seldom in Weiner-dom does a manufactured kerfuffle appear without a sidenote about a publication date hiding out somewhere in the middle of it all. In this case, there are two. In October, Weiner will see the publication of Hungry Heart, a collection of personal essays which, devil’s advocate, may actually be good, since she’s finally embracing her fated métier: Herself. But this week, Weiner also sees the release of her first children’s book, The Littlest Bigfoot (which sadly does not use this classic Eddie Murphy bit as its jumping-off point). Rather, it’s a classic tale of looking for belonging in a world that keeps choosing Franzen:
“Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, slips through the world unseen and unnoticed. Ignored by her family and shipped off to her eighth boarding school, Alice would like a friend. And when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in a lake one day, she finds one.
But Millie is a Bigfoot, part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs, as they call them—are dangerous, yet Millie is fascinated with the No-Fur world. She is convinced that humans will appreciate all the things about her that her Bigfoot tribe does not: her fearless nature, her lovely singing voice, and her desire to be a star.
Alice swears to protect Millie’s secret. But a league of Bigfoot hunters is on their trail, led by a lonely kid named Jeremy. And in order to survive, Alice and Millie have to put their trust in each other—and have faith in themselves—above all else.”
I want to be honest about this. As Jennifer Weiner and I get older together, disliking each other (I’m guessing: she’s blocked me on Twitter, and okay, fair enough), it gets exhausting. That’s the dirty secret of beef: It’s not good for you. I want Weiner to break free. I want her to do some shit that’s unimpeachably good, that transcends her whole corny deal, because in her desperation, in her weird Twitter shit, I see an intellect trying to break free. And when she says this on her blog, it’s like, yeah, I hear you, I feel you:
“I feel like there’s nowhere I belong in Bookland. I’m not literary enough to be a literary writer, I’m not uplifting enough to be an Oprah writer. I’m not anywhere, and I’m all alone, and nobody’s going to come sit with me.”
But that’s the thing, Alice. It isn’t all about you.
Jennifer Weiner launches The Littlest Bigfoot tonight at Headhouse Books.