Brownstoned: Author’s portrayal of slutty, pothead parents has Park Slope feeling dirty

August 6, 2012 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Parents in Park Slope and other Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods are popping a cork over author Amy Sohn’s latest poke at their neighborhoods’ slutty, pill-popping moms and dads.

In the provocative article, “The 40-Year-Old Reversion,” published on the culture website The Awl, Sohn paints a frightening picture of hitting the big 4-0 while with family in the borough of Kings.

Her brownstoner friends call themselves “Hookers, Sluts and Drug Addicts.” They talk about having sex with each others’ graphic-designer husbands, and pop way too many pills.

“We’re masturbating excessively, cheating on good people, doing coke in newly price-inflated townhouses, and sexting compulsively — though rarely with our partners,” Sohn writes.

About a brownstone Brooklyn party that took place in June, she writes:

“Perimenopausal mothers with bangs and strappy dresses drank ridiculous cocktails and rocked out to Biz Markie and C+C Music Factory, raising their palms to the air. ‘There are a lot of single women here,’ said a dad friend from Spain. ‘They’re not single,’ I said. ‘They’re just acting single.’”

Where were their husbands? Either standing on the sidelines, wincing, or outside smoking dope.

Painting a horrifying picture of her generation of Brooklyn parents she asks, “Why do moms in my generation regress, whether by drugging, cheating, or going out too late and too often?”

Her uncomfortable answer: “Because everything our children thrive on — stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents — feels like death to those entrusted with their care.”

This is just too much for Brooklyn’s dedicated stroller parents. Roughly 500 of them responded to the article at The Awl, many calling Sohn unprintable names. Others expressed the wish to die young, get their tubes tied, turn gay — or even move to the suburbs.

“This is one of the most frightening visions of 40 I’ve ever read,” said one commenter going by the name Litothela.

“I guess I’m a Park Slope Parent, but I feel like I live on a different planet after reading this piece,” wrote Clarence Rosario.

“This made me want to drink a glass of milk and go to church again and call my mom and tell her I love her,” wrote someone named Melis.

Like “The 40-Year-Old Reversion,” Sohn — author of the novels “Prospect Park West,” “My Old Man,” and “Run Catch Kiss” — says the characters in her latest novel, Motherland, “are inspired by my neighbors, who seek liberation not through consciousness-raising and EST the way their mothers did, but through Fifty Shades of Grey and body shots.”

Motherland touches on the same subjects as The 40-Year-Old Reversion how married GenXers behave and the pressures of modern marriage — says her publicist, who prefers to keep Ms. Sohn under wraps until the book is released August 14.

She did, however, supply a press release and advance jacket blurbs, which call Motherland, “A juicy, diverting look at the private lives of hip, urban parents,” and “Hilarious, smart, razor-sharp and spot-on.”

According to the press release, “With her trademark blend of social satire and sexy drama, Amy Sohn delivers a candid, unsentimental look at modern marriage and parenthood in her new novel, Motherland (Simon & Schuster). In Motherland, Sohn brings back the captivating, complicated women we loved in Prospect Park West — Rebecca, Karen, and Melora — and introduces us to Park Slope dads, gay and straight, whose lives are as soap opera worthy as those of their wives.”

“Guided by Sohn’s keen eye for cultural detail and knack for riveting storytelling, Motherland takes us on a journey behind the closed doors of a supposedly idyllic bourgeois paradise of food co-ops, park picnics, and cushy summer vacations and asks important questions about happiness. Is it ever really possible to have it all, or do we create our own problems no matter the circumstances? How do we remain connected to the lives — and loves — we have chosen?”

Readers get that Sohn wrote the Awl article as a publicity vehicle but they still don’t want to live in the same neighborhood or even on the same planet as the article’s subjects.

Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston singled out what he believes is one of the most hilariously oblivious sentences in Sohn’s story: “The stoners came back with smug grins and then talked about how good the pot was, like if they didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t quite as rebellious. I decided it was time to go home.”

He adds: “That last sentence sums up not only this whole piece, but all of our attitudes towards it.”

It appears that Sohn may not be able to eat lunch in brownstone Brooklyn for quite a while.

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