Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buy This Book: "Milkshake" is a smart, funny fiction debut for Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss

What makes me happy as a reader: a book that makes me think, a book that makes me laugh, a book that makes me care. Milkshake, the refreshing, thoroughly enjoyable debut novel from Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss did all three. It's takes balls to write a satiric novel about breastfeeding, and when I heard the high concept, I think I was smiling one of those frozen, vaguely baffled smiles that basically says, "Gahfwah?" I couldn't wait to get my hands on the manuscript to see if Weiss actually pulled it off, and I'm delighted to report that she did.

Milkshake strongly reminded me of two of my all time favorite sass-in-a-box books: Jane Smiley's brilliant academia send-up Moo and My Year of Meats, Ruth L. Ozeki's hilarious spoof on reality TV and the meat-packing industry. Plus a smattering of Primary Colors.

Like all of the above, Milkshake satisfies with bright wit, fast-paced story, zingalicious dialogue and engaging characters. For those of us who tend to take ourselves a little too seriously when it comes to personal choices and political stands, it's a friendly but incisive calling out. For those of us who'd rather not see the man behind the political curtain, it's a gentle nudge with an electric cattle prod.

When an innocent wardrobe malfunction places mild-mannered mom Lauren Bruce in the middle of a political flap about breastfeeding in public, gubernatorial hopeful Candace Calloway and her savvy campaign machine latch on. Now, in addition to coping with all the usual issues of new motherhood, Lauren is being pursued by the media and shoved into the political fray, which we get to follow from the POV of pragmatic Maisy, Candace's war-weary campaign manager, a delicious voice of cynicism and sanity.

One of the growing legion of established writers opting to indy publish, Weiss is a great example of how to do it right. Milkshake is well-written and properly edited with a quirktastic cover design by artist Wendy Wahman.

Read more about Joanna's indy pub journey on author Jenna Blum's blog, The Writer's Life.

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