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The Position

3.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,981 Ratings  ·  328 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 a not

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 8th 2005 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (first published March 1st 2005)
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This is one of those ‘ennui of modern American life as seen through one dysfunctional family’ novels that I normally avoid like the plague – and indeed, an early chapter featuring yet another melancholy genius worrying about his antidepressants and sexual hang-ups made me fear the worst. But I was strangely won round, mainly thanks to some smart narrative focus which helps keep things tight and under control.

Our main characters are the four children of Roz and Paul Mellow, a couple who achieved
May 02, 2012 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 17, 2009 Deirdre rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 14, 2008 Ruby rated it liked it  ·  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
Oct 17, 2015 Elvan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Your parents write a book about sex and are featured in tasteful drawings in many, many positions, one of which they invent.
You and your three siblings discover said bestseller on top of a cupboard when you all are six to 14 years old.

Surprise, surprise. Screwed up adulting in your future. Guaranteed.
I love the creative plot ideas Wolitzer seems to have no problem coming up with. "The Position" creates the what-if scenario involving two parents who write a best selling manual on sex. Real smart. If you love your children, you do not publicize dozens of baked sketches of the two of you having sex in caps Kuma-Sutra positions. They even create their own position, christened "Electric Forgiveness". Something like sitting facing each other, wrapping arms in a hug-like position, then inserting th ...more
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
Adele Griffin
Apr 15, 2011 Adele Griffin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Jay
Jul 04, 2013 David Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 31, 2008 Charis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Manik Sukoco
This book drew me in with promises of humor and a trajectory of family growth and development in the age of the sexual revolution. What I got in turn was a weak, depressing, unfulfilled snooze-fest of festering self-loathing and self-pity among the members of this sad, pathetic excuse for a family. The idea of "loving" parents couldn't have been more antithetical in this book. These parents loved no-one but themselves. And it wasn't because of their love of sexual exploration. It was that they d ...more
Aug 06, 2015 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-on-kindle
What a difficult book to rate! First let's start with the (in my opinion) pretty weird premise for a book.

In the 1970s, a husband and wife who have 4 children decide to write a book about their sex life complete with pictures and one of the kids discovers the book and shares it with his siblings. So now all 4 children have seen graphic pictures of their parents having sex.

Despite this really weird beginning for a book, it is very well-written and as the book continues by following the lives of t
Feb 05, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Eric Cohen
Jul 12, 2012 Eric Cohen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 03, 2013 Bessie James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Laura Hogensen
Though there is no such thing as a "bad" Meg Wolitzer novel, this one is still weaker than The Wife or The Interestings. I enjoyed it more than The 10 Year Nap, however. Unlike T10YN, Wolitzer doesn't seem to have as much of an agenda here. She seems genuinely interested in setting up the scenario and then letting her characters' stories speak for themselves. Of course, some characters are weaker than others. For instance, she seems unable to reconcile the two sides of Holly. She keeps telling u ...more
Aug 30, 2015 Ariane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Meg Wolitzer book I have had the great good fortune to take from the Little Free Library box around the corner. The first was The Interestings, which I devoured from the moment I had it in my hands, walking the dog around the neighborhood with my eyes in the book. Honestly, reading Meg Wolitzer's work is like having long-wished-for x-ray vision, seeing deep into each character in a way that is so devastatingly familiar and simultaneously surprising. I know I should return The ...more
Julia Fierro
Oct 30, 2013 Julia Fierro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2014 Maya Lang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Anne Marshall
Mar 15, 2008 Anne Marshall rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A very odd book. No discenerable plot. Basically just a sequence of events.
Aug 13, 2010 Laurel-Rain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 07, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2009 jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
*** 1/2

I liked this a lot but kept thinking, "Come on" in reaction to how different characters behaved. Sometimes reactions didn't feel believable but then again my parents never wrote a how-to sex manual. I suppose that would sort of mess with you.

Fun read over all and never have I read a book so completely and entirely about sex. I don't think I've read any of Wolitzer's other books but I'm looking forward to checking them out.
May 26, 2012 Kristen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Oct 19, 2014 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good read. Enjoyed The Interestings more but worth it if you like reading about dysfunctional families.
Der Klappentext zu diesem Buch war sehr vielversprechend, deshalb habe ich mich schon sehr darauf gefreut, dieses Buch zu lesen.

Roz und Paul Mellow schreiben in den 70er Jahren einen Sexratgeber, der einen kometenhaften Aufstieg erlebt - allerdings haben die Mellows aber auch vier Kinder, die eines Tages dieses Buch finden und ihren Augen nicht trauen. Im weiteren Verlauf wird beschrieben, wie sich die vier Kinder als Erwachsene durchs Leben schlagen und was aus den Eltern geworden ist, deren Be
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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.
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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.” 19 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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