There’s a delicious moment in Sandra Tsing Loh’s new menopausal memoir when she sinks into a hot bath to read Anna Quindlen’s menopausal memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. For an instant, I believe that two of my favorite nonfiction writers are going to melt together into a smart, steamy, sisterhoody, say-what-we’re-all-thinking sort of soup.
But the soak only made Loh — divorced, sleepless, bloated, and at the frayed, thready end of her tightly wound rope — feel like “a hideous monster failure” compared to the “warm, sensible” and alcohol-abstaining Quindlen, who is still married to her high school sweetheart.
And what Loh wrote next was even better than sassy-scribe stew: “Anna Quindlen is a judgmental beeyotch masquerading as a nice person, and I hate her. I realize this puts me in the can’t-win position of attacking a clearly very nice and successful person … But if only we could see women crash around a bit more, particularly in middle age.”
Plenty of such crashing can be seen in Loh’s new book, The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones, a startlingly, refreshingly honest account of life as a modern woman being dragged — writhing and wailing — out of her forties. A writer and radio commentator who is coming to UCSB’s Campbell Hall in May, Loh describes her imperfect relationships with her lover, ailing father, adolescent daughters, and irritating therapist and her failure to cope gracefully with the weight gain, hot flashes, forgetfulness, and panic attacks of perimenopause.