The Position
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The Position

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,647 ratings  ·  233 reviews
Sex, love, the 1970s, and one extraordinary family

that lived to tell the tale

Crackling with intelligence and original humor, "The Position" is a masterful take on sex and the suburban American family at the hilarious height of the sexual revolution and throughout the thirty-year hangover that followed. Meg Wolitzer, the author of the much-acclaimed novel "The Wife" (named...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Scribner Book Company
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Deirdre
When I first read the back of this book I thought it sounded potentially hilarious and at the very least quite interesting. And while the premise certainly is interesting, Wolitzer falls a little flat on her delivery. The story begins in the seventies when the Mellows first publish their how-to sex guide (featuring illustrations of themselves in all the positions!) but rapidly moves to the present day and focuses on the current lives and loves of the four grown children.

It's hard to imagine, but...more
Ruby
Mar 14, 2008 Ruby rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who grew up in the seventies
Shelves: fiction
I listened to Wolitzer give a talk at a writing conference in 2007. She said that she was intrigued by writing about the mundanities of life, like food and sex. She didn't think people wrote well about it.

She preached what was to me a curious distance--she didn't think that sex scenes should be titillating, and hers are mostly not.

Despite that, her characters are well developed, and her writing is very good. I was quite amused throughout most of the book. There appeared to me to be some point o...more
Michelle
How would you and your siblings react if your parents had written the nation's best selling sex guide (complete with graphic illustrations of themselves demonstrating various positions) of the 1970's? This novel opens with the four Mellow children gathering in the den one afternoon to page through the volume. Their initial reactions as well as the lifelong effect of carrying the Mellow name and feeling like the whole world has watched your parents have sex over and over again is chronicled in th...more
Don
Where to begin? I love Meg Wolitzer. Only recently did I become aware of her, and to date I've only read two of her books. But from what I know, from what I've read, this is the novelist for me. This is someone interested in the things I'm interested in -- human relationships, relationships between parents and children, relationships between lovers. There's romance here, but never sentimentality. There's sex, but it's always realistic and tasteful. She's not afraid to deal with the great existen...more
David Jay
I loved this book from the first word to the last! I don't know how I have missed all of Meg Wolitzer's novels over the years but she is my new favorite, albiet belated, discovery.

Roz and Paul Mellow become rich and famous in the 1970s when their book "Pleasuring" (think "Joy of Sex") becomes hugely successful. The book contains many drawings of the couple in various sexual poses. "The Position" begins on the day their four children discover the book hidden away in the den and follows the family...more
Charis
Fantastic. Meg writes in a way that makes me want to write. She has a wit and a humor so subtle and smart that it takes my breath away.
Her knowledge of what makes people "tick" (especially CHILDREN) and the ways our young souls are marred is at such a depth that I wonder sometimes about her own story as I read: HOW does she know so much about human nature?
Brilliant, smart, biting and kind - a feminist who is not held down or in her anger. She sees well, she loves well, and I am always left chang...more
Matthew Crehan Higgins
I woke up in the middle of the night and all I could think about was being only 25% away from finishing this book, so I got up and did. That's the strength of Meg Wolitzer's characters. They read in a way that feels so real that when the book is put down, the reader keeps on thinking about them and wondering. She has a great gift for telling things in multiple discourse, flashing forward and back and looking at the same events from different characters' experiences and never loses the reader.
Jennifer
Meg Wolitzer takes up an entire shelf at my local library. Where is a girl to start? Ten-Year Nap? Um, I haven't actually woken up from mine yet. So, no thanks. The Uncoupling? The Wife? Um, relationships are hard. I get it... So, no thanks. The Position? Let's see... Children haunted by parent's sex book. Crackling with intelligence and humor. Set in 1970s suburbia. That should be a suitable escape - nothing that hits too close to home.

Boy, was I wrong. This story, with its seemingly far-fetche...more
Adele Griffin
The premise of this book is so hugely comic that i was ready for anything. I love Wolitzer, whose fiction can elicit complicated reaction-- you are laughing so hard at the one-liners, the zingers, the flat-out brazen hilariousness of her observations, that the wisdom of the book is the quiet force. She is a major player, if she were humorless she'd win all the lit prizes, but i think it's lucky for everyone that she embraced her comic genius and become beloved instead.

So what she is really sayi...more
allison
I love character-driven fiction, but this is pretty character-heavy/plot-lite even for me.

The story here is great, but the set-up is tough: picking up 30 years after a particular event -- four children discovering that their parents had written, posed for, and would become famous for a sex guide -- makes it difficult to really go into much depth.

Each of the main characters, particularly the children, are supremely messed up, but Wolitzer is kind of asking her reader to do her a favor and just go...more
Eric Cohen
I've been on a real suburban fiction kick lately and this one really sung to me. It follows a family who lives change in the 70's after the parents write an illustrated sex manual a la "The Joy of Sex."

While the book becomes famous and offers the family money and fame, the (sex) lives of all four children and the parents are affected in many different ways as they move on to adulthood.

The prose in this is wonderful and it's not a Good Read but a great one.
Bessie James
The premise of this book stretchs your credulity -- how would it feel to be the children of a couple that produced a famous sex manual, replete with life-like drawings of your parents coupling in various positions? Meg Wolitzer pulls this off with panache. She develops a wide cast of characters that react to the situation in different, but understandable ways. The writing is clear, and sometimes gorgeous. I will look for more of her work.
Julia Fierro
I loved everything about this book. Funny, smart, revealing, thought-provoking. It's one of those rare books you wish you could forget, so you could read it again for the first time!
Maya Lang
After reading (and loving) The Interestings, I went back to Wolitzer's previous novels and found myself disappointed. They were very good: engrossing, funny, detailed. But where was that extra spark that makes certain characters memorable and vivid?

The answer, I think, is that Meg Wolitzer got progressively better with each novel. You see all of the elements of The Interestings here: the ensemble cast, the question of how fame affects people, the ability to capture certain salient moment in Amer...more
Laurel-Rain
The time was the mid-seventies. Paul and Roz Mellow lived in a suburb called Wontaucket, and on a "normal" weekend, their four children are spending the day alone while their parents are off giving a lecture.

The second oldest child, Michael, discovers the mysterious tome on a top shelf, bookended by something innocuous, but he is curious. Something about the way it seems almost hidden....

From that point on, the story unfolds as the children discover what the book entails and secretly share its c...more
Sarah
Having been a huge fan of Meg Wolitzer's novels 'The Ten Year Nap' and 'The Interestings,' I decided to delve into her back catalog, and 'The Position' seemed a good place to start. Like Wolitzer's later novels, this one follows a number of different characters connected by bonds of family or friendship. In this case we meet Paul and Roz Mellow, a 1970s couple who pen a 'Joy of Sex' type book titled 'Pleasuring: One Couple's Journey to Fulfillment.' The book, which makes them famous, is illustra...more
jordan
Meg Wolitzer's novel, "The Position" includes a plot so richly layered and interesting, on can doubt that it consists of this novelist's best work to date. "The Position" revolves around the family of the Mellows, suburbanites who, in the middle of the 70's, write a sex manual where they serve as the models for the paintings. While the manual takes off, making the family wealthy and the parents famous, at home things change. One evening the Mellows four children, ages 7-15 find and read the manu...more
Kristen
I just could not get into this book at all. The premise was original and I looked forward to a tongue-in-cheek storyline - but found most of the characters completely unlikable and bland. I know the premise is how discovering their parents as the authors (and subjects) of "Pleasuring" affected the children as viewed in adulthood. However, I gave up about halfway through, just completely disengaged with where the children ended up. I wasn't expecting happy, well-adjusted adults, or crazily zany -...more
Kristina
Why I chose to read another book by this author, I don't know. But I was again disappointed and will never read anything by Wolitzer again. This book doesn't really go anywhere and spends more time in the past than in the present. Plus it shifts perspectives a lot and I know a little about a lot of characters, but never get an indepth look at one main character. Because of this, I didn't like ANY of the characters. I didn't get a fresh outlook on life from this book (and this is "serious" litera...more
Hara
This isn’t Wolitzer’s newest novel, but it sounded promising. At the center is the wonderfully and ironically named Mellow. The Mellow parents are the authors of the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) ground-breaking book Pleasuring: One Couple’s Journey, sort of a fictionalized version of The Joy of Sex, which was explored one fateful afternoon in the 70’s by their four children. The plot revolves around the impact of this book on the family of six, and the ways in which the ri...more
Alex
Easy read, the author has fun with language and the subject matter. I initially picked this up on the sale shelf at Powell's PDX for airplane reading, as well as a nod to Meg Wolitzer's contribution to the most satisfying cryptic crossword puzzles I've come across, a feature she co-edited with Jesse Green in the magazine Civilization. The book served its purpose admirably, but has not made it to my permanent collection. I left it in Las Vegas airport for the next bookless traveler.
Jennifer
I really had to push myself through this one. Some reviews said the last 1/4 of the book was better, so I continued. Nothing really got me at the end. I did not find the characters sympathetic. My favorite (if I had to pick) was Dash, and he wasn't featured as much as he should have been. I like Wolitzer's descriptive details, but not enough to seek out more of her books.
Melody
The title and synopsis tell you that this book is about sex, and it is - but not, perhaps, in a way that you will expect unless you've previously read Meg Wolitzer. If you enjoy a good character driven novel, Wolitzer is a treat. She fleshes her characters out to the point where you could swear you know the people. And not only that, but you understand them like you understand yourself. So when she writes about sex, she doesn't write the titillating, scandalous stuff that furthers a dissatisfact...more
Elizabeth
I wasn't a fan of this book. The characters were intriguing but the story was all over the place and it reading it felt like a chore.
Nicole
Another book club book...it's pretty neurotic so far, but I'll let you know how it turns out.
Anne Marshall
A very odd book. No discenerable plot. Basically just a sequence of events.
Lizanne
See Penny's Review. Great writer, disappointing story.
Bud Mallar
A while ago I asked a music critic freind of mine what he used for criteria - was it the tone of the voice, the emotions into the singing, the lyrics, the genre, the arrangement, a personal connection - and the answer was yes.

This is a video out there of Lucia Micarelli - start with her playing Emannuel with Chris Botti as I can no longer find the video I refer to, where one viewer comments that at a certain point she started crying because the music was so beautiful, so emotional. How silly, ho...more
Ian Mapp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judy
Though this is her seventh novel, it is the first I have read by Meg Wolitzer. She is about ten years younger than me, so not the next generation but somewhere in between. The Position is marketed as humorous. I found it to be an attempt at irony but ultimately a sad story.

Paul and Roz Mellow, very much in love, deeply passionate, and in the process of raising four children, conceive of an idea. The result is a book called Pleasuring: One Couple's Journey to Fulfillment, complete with artist r...more
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Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Ten-Year Nap and seven previous novels, including The Position and The Wife . Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize.

Author photo copyright Deborah Copaken.
More about Meg Wolitzer...
The Interestings The Ten-Year Nap The Uncoupling The Wife The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

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“No one had told her this would happen, that her girlishness would give way to the solid force of wifehood, motherhood. The choices available were all imperfect. If you chose to be with someone, you often wanted to be alone. If you chose to be alone, you often felt the unbearable need for another body - not necessarily for sex, but just to rub your foot, to sit across the table, to drop his things around the room in a way that was maddening but still served as a reminder that he was there.” 18 likes
“All of the women in that time and place, Thea had learned, were stuffed into muslin and starched cotton and forced to sit ramrod-straight and plait their hair or pull it back off their faces with fish oil. There were shoes that laced up with a hundred eyelets, and corsets that required a special hook to open. Women were all in it together back then, as opposed to now, when one woman's experience could differ so greatly from another's that you never knew who you were talking to.” 1 likes
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