Thursday, January 15, 2009


Writer Marion Winik is one of my idols. Winik, who is often heard on NPR's All Things Considered, wrote an amazing memoir, First Comes Love. It tells of her marriage to Tony, a fellow junkie, who is also a gay figure skater. Marion and Tony kicked their habits, slipped back, had two sons, fought, reconciled, split up, and then got back together when Tony got sick with AIDS. He came home to commit suicide. The amazing part of First Comes Love is that it's hysterically funny, which is no easy feat. The last book my mother read before she went blind was First Comes Love, and for years afterward she would say things like, "I wonder how Hayes and Vince are doing." When I would ask her who they were, she would sigh and say, "You know, Tony and Marion's boys." It was like they were our favorite cousins, and somehow we had lost touch.

Okay, so I'm on Facebook one day and I see Marion Winik's name. I friend her (why not?), and miraculously, she friends me back. I write and tell her the story about my mother, and Marion sends me back a really gracious note to say that she wishes we were real cousins.

I almost die, because when you email one of your idols, you really don't expect to get back a funny and open note. I tell Marion that I'd like to send her a copy of Hats & Eyeglasses, and she says she would love to see it. A week later, she writes this:

Martha--- I want to talk more about the book but here are just a few random things. The portrait of your mother is absolutely priceless, all your family members, really. Many times the humor reminded me of Anne Lamott. You must know her work. That sweet self-deprecating wisecracking with a touch of hyperbole. It was soothing to my soul. Thanks so much for getting in touch with me and making sure I read the book. If there is something you need -- though you seem to have all the reviews and blurbs a person could possibly want -- let me know. You made me (and everyone else I'm sure) slather to read your next book. Wish i was in woodstock today for a chat xox Mar

I almost fainted. She compared me to Anne Lamott, who is my other favorite writer. Then it gets better- Winik, who I now think of as Mar, writes and says that she is going to teach Hats & Eyeglasses as part of her MFA class in Obsession and Addiction in Literature at the University of Baltimore this semester, and that she wants me to come down there, speak to the MFA class, do a public reading that night, speak to her memoir class the next day, and stay over and play Scrabble.

I'm too embarrassed to tell Mar that I suck at Scrabble, so I'm sitting here with the dictionary, just looking up random words. I'm telling you now, Mar is going to have to evict me, because i will not leave voluntarily!

And for all you haters who say Facebook is a waste of time, well, you never know.


haute flash contessa said...

Wow, Martha! I would've died and thought I'd gone to Heaven. What a wonderfully sweet (besides incredibly talented)women she is.

Good luck and have fun at the college. With Scrabble, too. I suck at that. Just because I'm an avid reader and a writer, everyone assumes I am a whiz at Scrabble and enjoy it. I am neither.


Martha Frankel said...

I think you're wrong--- i HAVE died and gone to Marion Winik heaven

and about Scrabble, it's like assuming that chefs like to eat. oh wait, chefs DO like to eat. but you know what i mean...

Laura Zigman said...

I love this post. I got my Marion Winik crush at the 2006 BEA in DC: not at the actual convention, but at the Jewish Book Network auditions. I say "auditions" because that's really what it was: two or three nights of Jewish authors getting up in front of an auditorium (I think it was in an old shul) full of Jewish Book Fair ladies and hoping to get invited to a whole bunch of Jewish Book Fairs in the fall on the basis of a two-minute shtick. Marion and I had assigned seats next to each other, because it was alphabetical order. I was last, of course, and she was second to last, which was actually good since it gave us time to talk and judge all the Jews on before us. One of my best friends, Marian, is a book publicist (I'm a recovering Knopf publicist myself) who was Marion's publicist on FIrst Comes Love. My Marian loved Marion and that is the true mark of a good person: if you're an author and your publicist still likes you after your book tour, you're tops.

Oh, and I can't wait to read your book. I just ordered it from amazon.