Arthur Wooten

Leftovers: A Novel by Arthur Wooten – A Review

Leftovers: A Novel is the latest novel by the wonderful Arthur Wooten, (“If Armistead Maupin and David Sedaris had a love child, it would be Arthur Wooten.” – Greg Archer, The Huffington Post). Leftovers has a strong female protagonist, in the 1950s no less, and manages to capture the spirit of the time period with a peek into the years of change to come.

Our heroine, Vivian Lawson, is beautiful, smart, hard-working, driven and only slightly damaged but not at first. When we first meet Vivian, she is a hot mess of a 50’s housewife leaving a wrecked marriage to a disaster of a man and even her own (moneyed and coldly critical) mother barely has time for her. Vivian trawls around town in a dowdy old shirt dress (not belted due to an early childhood trauma) and spirals into a bad place but she pulls herself together with help from her friends and the not to be underestimated transformational power of Tupperware®. Her personal and professional growth are compelling and you cheer for her to succeed. Vivian has a way with people that surprises even herself; she is self-deprecating, funny and utterly believable as the self-proclaimed worst cook on the planet and using this gift, manages to climb the ranks of Tupperware sales in a bold way.

Arthur Wooten captures the wonderful parts of this time period and even references an all-time favorite book, Marjorie Morningstar, much to my happiness. Show tunes, bad decorating choices and a make-over from on high make this a read you will not want to miss. No spoiler here, you’ll want to read all about Vivian’s travels yourself. Here is the link to Arthur Wooten’s site – if you haven’t read anything by him yet, you will thank me. You are welcome. If you have, then you know you are in for a treat.

About the author:

Arthur Wooten is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Leftovers, Birthday Pie, On Picking Fruit and Fruit Cocktail. He’s also penned the children’s picture book Wise Bear William: A New Beginning and the collection of short stories, Arthur Wooten’s Shorts. A playwright, his works include the award winning Birthday Pie, which had its world premiere at the Waterfront Playhouse, Key West, FL. His one act plays, Lily and The Lunch, have been produced Off-Off Broadway and for two years he was the humorist for the London based magazine, reFRESH. Arthur grew up in Andover, MA and now resides in New York City.

A Mission to Read

I have set a task for myself (something I usually am loathe to do) and this is a good one – it is to read and review all of the books I have received. While this sounds easy, the books can pile up (what with my other reading) and suddenly, I get behind.  I know, it doesn’t sound too grueling, does it? Spending my days lounging around lost in a book?  Am I in sweats and eating cookies, too? Maybe. Sounds remotely like my adolescence. Nice work if you can get it.

Here is a list of the books I have had the pleasure of reading. Simply click on the photo to order the book. More in depth write-ups to follow – when I get my stuff together or my nose out of a book, which ever comes first.

Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, Anne Enright

Anne Enright, one of the most acclaimed novelists of her generation, wrote The Gathering which won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, her follow-up novel, The Forgotten Waltz, also received universal praise.

Wonderfully written, a joy, so wryly funny and entirely my type of book. An honest, incredibly funny and poignant take on Motherhood (yes, capitalized). I wish I had the presence of mind to take notes while I was postpartum or home with young ones but I was buried under the mountains of laundry and so, so tired and I probably wouldn’t have been as insightful or witty, either.

 

Patchwork of Me, Gregory Allen

Gregory Allen

You may have to clear the decks as you will be unable to put this well-written tale down (unless you skim ahead which I would never do…except this time I did, then went back and read it in order the way you are meant to) until you find out the deeply buried secret of your new best friend, Sara Butler, and how she pulls her life together.

 

Leftovers, Arthur Wooten

Vivian Lawson, a 1950s housewife with a life less than she expected (or deserved), pulls out of an emotional tailspin with the help of some very true friends, a tower of Tupperware, some hard work and new powers of persuasion she didn’t know she had. At one point our heroine screams, “Leftovers are never pretty!”  while wielding a large casserole dish over her head, but sometimes they really are.

Anything Is Possible, Thomas Bahler – Okay, I am cheating by adding this. I haven’t finished it yet. Will update this when I do.

 

The Truth About Us, Dalene Flannigan

A long held secret, a change of heart, and the three college friends, makes this a fast and furious read. The characters, Erica, Grace and Jude, are well-drawn and well-defined and while the secret that they keep is horrible and heart-wrenching, the characters never lose their humanity or appeal.

Ada, Legend of a Healer, R.A. McDonald

On my way to finish this now, I got distracted by a Julia Glass book that someone dropped off for me.

Wise Bear William is Wise Indeed

 

One of the best things that has come out of having a blog is the wonderful connections that I have made to people that are in far-flung places, people I may never have met otherwise. Here is a true and lovely story of how I met the author of Wise Bear William, Arthur Wooten.

I was working on a post for book blog tour for WOW (Women on Writing) about Melissa Goodwin– she wrote the lovely book The Christmas Village – and Melissa was so nice! She wrote thank you notes (you know your mother always told you to and she was right) and we started an email conversation that led to us realizing that we were both bookish girls from the same small town although did not know each other – different ages. Small world, yes? Through Melissa I met Arthur Wooten (also from same hometown – they knew each other when) and he offered to send me a copy of the book to review. As we started corresponding, I realized that I went to elementary school with his brother such a long time ago!

Anyway, Arthur very kindly (he is also very polite) sent me a copy of his new book, Wise Bear William. It turns out that he wrote this when he was in his twenties and put it aside arthur wooten wise bear william on capability mom blogwhile he did other things  – like writing books: Fruit Cocktail, On Picking Fruit and Birthday Pie. Over the years he thought of different ways to present this story and I am so glad it is as a picture book. The lovely message is lightly told but deeply felt. Without preaching the story shows that the important things in life are acceptance, friendship, loyalty and love.

The story begins with an exclamation from bouncy Rag Doll Rose (these are talking toys) and the energy continues as you are drawn into the lives of these toys in a charming attic (if we had an attic I would like to be like this one). From Bean Bag Bunny to Wise Bear William, the characters are beautifully drawn and captivating. The illustrations are rich in detail, warm and complement the story perfectly. Wise Bear William is encouraging, kind and brings out the best in the other toys (who are a bit worse for the wear) as they prepare for a visit from the children who are visiting in the house below. As a tradition, every year the children come up to the attic to choose a toy from those in the attic to have as their own until they are too old to play with it, then the toys come back to the attic. When you read a children’s book you think you know what will happen (and usually I do) but the surprising ending is a delight. Go read this book now (you can find it on Amazon by clicking the book below). A lovely story for a lovely time of year. Enjoy the holidays!

Wise Bear William is destined to become a classic.

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