The Fixed Stars [Molly Wizenberg, 2020]

I have been a fan of Molly Wizenberg’s writing for such a long time that my Gmail account is more recent than my following of her blog. Orangette remains one of my favourite blogs, even though it has sadly died down in the last few years.

What draws me to Molly’s writing is how she can craft words to talk about her everyday life, her memories, sometimes her intimate thoughts. Much like a diary, but in a simple, beautiful way, as if her writing was an analogue photograph of life instants. When I read her what she wrote, it felt comforting, reassuring, like putting on some slippers, drinking wine, scratching the cat’s head and knitting. Cliché? Probably. But the simple comforts of everyday life. Almost always, her stories were associated with a recipe, a formula that is very dear to my heart.

In the Fixed Stars, Molly’s writing is just like that, but it not about food. It is about her experience, shifting from a straight, married woman and mother, to someone who is in love with a non-binary person and the ensuing changes in her perception of herself, of what love means for her and of the structure of her life and family.

I felt that the whole book reflected this process. In the beginning, the story is more factual. Towards the middle and the end, it is more philosophical; more questions are raised and Molly writes about her own quest to come to terms with all these changes and to find her own answer to these questions.

The theme of queer sexuality and identity is something that I don’t usually pursue and I mostly read the book because, as I said before, I am a fan of Molly. Hence, I am not sure if the book is a good representation, in general, of what it means to be queer and I don’t really have any insights into how this story would be viewed by the queer community. I do wonder, though, how other experiences are portrayed. It also left me thinking about how little we read about other people’s experiences when they are not relatable to our own (this was something that stayed on my mind after the BLM events a few months ago).

In the end, I do appreciate honest, confessional stories about the human experience, whichever form it might take and, as usual, I felt that Molly excelled at that. It is a story about dealing with something that happens, that transforms life, how to come to terms with it and how to make something better of it.

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