Mindy Pollack-Fusi will visit the Art and Craft of Writing Creatively on three occasions this week to introduce her new book, The Narcissist’s Daughter: A Meshugenah Love Story. Today, Mindy – or rather, Dr. Mindy! – meets four of her characters on the couch. Visit again on Wednesday and Friday when we have an interview with Mindy and an excerpt from her new title. After reading Mindy’s post, you can learn more about Mindy and the book, plus enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon.com gift card.
At first glance, my book seems to be a flighty, comic, sexy interfaith love story that includes a graphic infidelity scene and a nasty mother as antagonist. Pure, unadulterated, chick lit. Well, um, yes, it is all of that, but oh, it is so, so much more.
My whole life I have been told I should be a therapist. Well, my mother told me I should GO TO ONE when I was only about 13, when I asked her to please be more supportive of me—before I knew that she just didn’t have it in her, from her own pained background. So, instead, I became an armchair therapist by studying the people in my own childhood home, and later in my friend group, particularly as the writer in me emerged and observing “characters” became part of my very soul.
So, without truly being aware of this, each of my characters underwent therapy in my mind for the 18 years I have on-and-off worked on this novel. After 18 years, most of them are doing quite well in their lives by now, I hope.
For those willing to look more deeply into my storyline, this book is also about personal demons. Every one of us has them. After you read the book, make a list of what each character’s flaws, if not demons, are. Also find the metaphors throughout the book that hint toward how we each can heal. The book depicts sex-addicts, narcissists galore, empaths, egotists, and, thank God for them, a handful of well-adjusted humans. And a fabulous canine, of course. (Sorry, cat lovers, no cats in this story. For a fee/donation to a writing cause I support, I’ll write one in for you for the eventual Audible version! PM me!)
So here are a few conversations you might enjoy. I, the creator of these characters, will channel the therapists I consulted in creating some of my characters, or in understanding them after I created them!!
Below is “dialogue” from the book. I will describe each character by his or her connection to Jody, the protagonist in the story, share a quote and I will reply as Dr. Mindy. (It is kind of like going to a cocktail party where you know no one, so the host makes everyone wear a nametag with their name and biggest flaw, and then sits them down with a shrink, one at a time. Hmm, sounds like an interesting movie for contemplative sorts, like me!)
Mindy Pollack-Fusi is an award-winning, lifelong writer, former public relations professional, and veteran journalist and essayist for The Boston Globe. She founded The Place for Words in 2009 to teach creative writing to adults and coach students on college application essays. She is the editor of “The Ice Cream Stand, Stories & Poems” by 21 Writers, published in part by a Bedford Cultural Council Grant. She holds a B.S. in Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and an M.S. in Public Relations from Boston University’s School of Public Communications. Mindy lives in Bedford, Mass. with her husband and rescue dog, Doogie Howser, The Doctor of Love! This is Mindy’s first novel, published by her indie imprint, The Place for Words Press. (The photo is with Mindy’s late great cocker spaniel, Gilligan, whose fictional persona plays a major role in The Narcissist’s Daughter.
Jody Horowitz grew up in a tony community outside Boston with her narcissistic mother, her passive father, and her snooty older sister. Breaking any of Mother’s multiple rules meant enduring verbal lashings and comparisons to her “perfect” sister. Jody acquiesces in practice, if not in spirit, starting with Rule # 1: Marry a Well-Off Jewish Man. Have his baby. Which she does.
But Jody, now 33, with a one-year-old daughter, learns that her “well-off-enough Jewish man” has been screwing a shiksa, and Mother suggests that in order to fix her marriage, Jody “wear more lingerie.” Instead, Jody kicks the cheater out, recovers her life with her work, her daughter and their cocker spaniel….and, despite Rule #1, falls for a kind Italian Catholic widow. Their love affair leads her to expedite her divorce, despite the risk of losing not only the only family she has ever known, but future shares of the family’s fortune. Is this worth it, to be with a partner who has a big heart—but a thin wallet?
Her new man seems well worth it, and Jody seems truly happy for the first time in a long time…despite the secret she must keep from him, and the secret she discovers about him. As she grapples with her heart, Mother re-surfaces with more mishegas, instituting Rule # 2—Keep Secrets When Necessary. She declares the divorce and goyim guy to be hush-hush and insists that Jody bring her estranged husband to the annual family reunion in upscale Westchester County, NY. That request pushes Jody over the edge. With her loving Bubbe’s support, she resolves to finally emerge from her mother’s narcissism—and shatter all rules so she can be true to herself, her daughter, and her new man.
This decision unravels her soul and leads to a dramatic personal breakdown that stretches from Boston to California to Maine, which even her best friend Ruthie can’t fix for Jody this time. By the start of the highly-charged family reunion, Jody must summon the courage to proclaim her allegiance to her man, not be a pawn to her family, and be a positive role-model for her daughter. To everyone’s surprise, a third choice, amid a tumultuous night of secret-revealing, comes to light.
Will Jody remain mired in Mother’s manipulation or freed from a lifetime of controlling, narcissistic influences? And how will her young daughter fare from the family mishegas that threatens to consume them? Can love and intimacy guide Jody’s exodus, or is the grip of the past too powerful to overcome?
With suspense, humor, romance, a compelling plot, and a Yiddish glossary, this novel grips the reader from start to finish—whether or not they understand the enormous challenges that the daughter of a narcissistic mother must overcome in order to become her own person. Those who do understand, or have lived with a self-absorbed or narcissistic mother, will see themselves in Jody—and cheer her on all the way to her final decision.
The Narcissist’s Daughter is also available for ordering for indie bookstores, B&N on demand, and libraries on Ingram. The ISBN is 9780983739777.