cover image Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

Laura Zigman. Ecco, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-290907-7

Zigman (Animal Husbandry) charts a chaotic time in the life of an eccentric family in her winning and droll latest. Judy Vogel once wrote a successful kids’ book, but she followed that up with two commercial flops and a case of writer’s block. After running across her 13-year-old son Teddy’s former baby sling while cleaning, Judy decides, on a whim, to start carrying the family dog against her chest. Having a warm body close to her eases the sadness of turning 50, Teddy’s sudden drift away from her, and her recent separation from her husband, Gary. Unfortunately (and humorously), Judy and Gary can’t afford to live apart, and cohabiting helps maintain a charade of normalcy (ostensibly for Teddy). Gary, who works as a self-described “snackologist” selling snacks online, makes the situation barely tenable with his debilitating anxiety, which he eases by smoking marijuana. Financial concerns are somewhat alleviated when they agree to host a troupe of “people puppets”—adult performers who put on shows as puppets—and a young couple also moves into the house, adding to the weirdness. But when someone begins defecating in the halls of Teddy’s school and Teddy becomes a suspect, Judy wonders what effects her instability might be having on him. Snappy wit often offsets the sadness in this zany yet moving story. Zigman’s dryly funny, inventive tale shows how hope can be found in midst of crisis. [em](Mar.) [/em]

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly referred to this book as the author's first.