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Brodesser-Akner, meanwhile, is very happily married.
BRODESSER-AKNER: Someone casually said to my husband, ‘Is it okay with you that she’s writing a book about the divorce?’ Like so many other people, their first novel is a coming-of-age novel … And he said, ‘She’s obsessed with divorce. She has always been obsessed with divorce. Her whole family is divorced. Some of them are divorced twice.’ Like, this is it. This has nothing to do with me.
Like her husband said, divorce is a topic Brodesser-Akner’s been thinking about for a long time — ever since her parents split up, back when she was 6.
FISCHER: What do you remember thinking about that at the time that it was happening?
BRODESSER-AKNER: I mean, I remember being very excited that we were going to have two new houses, which makes me feel very stupid. I was like, Oh, look at that, two birthday parties. But as I grew older, the thing I was thinking about was, Was it worth it? However they felt about each other, was it worth it to disrupt our lives in this way?
And thankfully they have done a thing where they have so much animosity between themselves that they still can’t be in a room together, which makes it very hard for us to have a bar mitzvah.
FISCHER: How many years later is this now?
BRODESSER-AKNER: I was 6, and I’m 43 now.
BRODESSER-AKNER: It’s a lot of years later, but at least I think when I see them fighting at my child’s birthday party or what have you, I think, You know, at least they didn’t do it for nothing. They really couldn’t be in a room together anymore. And now, this year, I’m married for 13 years. That’s the year that they broke up. And I think these questions of, you know — do you have children?
FISCHER: I don’t have children.
BRODESSER-AKNER: So, when you’re pregnant, you’re told not to really take it to the bank until you’re in the second trimester and you can tell people. And then you’re in the second trimester and you’re like, But nobody could tell I’m pregnant. So am I really pregnant? And that’s how my marriage has been. I’m like, Am I really married? And I feel like only now do I realize that I didn’t think I was really married until I made it through this looking glass that my parents inadvertently set up …
FISCHER: That’s like the first trimester of your married life.
BRODESSER-AKNER: And I was thinking, Now that we’re good, can I talk about marriage? And what was crazy to me was that I actually just wanted to talk about divorce.
To hear what Brodesser-Akner learned when she started watching her friends go through divorce — and to hear her read an excerpt from Fleishman Is in Trouble — click above, and subscribe wherever you listen.