Wondering about your ex? Join the party, says Jennifer Weiner, "master of the oft-maligned chick-lit genre"

September 5th, 2006

'Guy' takes Weiner to next level as author
By Lauren Beckham Falcone

OK, admit it. You Googled your ex last night. Or you found his wedding registry. Or baby registry. Or his MySpace account. No matter. He's on your brain and you've been wondering, between commutes and bills and dirty diapers: what if?

Leave it to bestselling author Jennifer Weiner (“Good in Bed,” “In Her Shoes”) to mine that very obsession for all it's worth.

Weiner's new offering is “The Guy Not Taken” ($24.95, Atria) – a collection of 11 short stories written this year and last and some when she was a teenager.

“What happened is sort of a roundabout story,” said the 36-year-old author in an interview from her summer home in Truro. “An editor from Glamour wanted me to write a short story for them, so I send them 'Dora on the Beach' and they liked it, but the main character was too old for their target audience. So I told them I had this idea for a story about a woman who comes across her ex's online wedding registry, based on my experience of surfing www.theweddingchannel.com for the name of every guy I ever dated. I mean, what did God make the Internet for if you can't check up on your ex?”

And in a plot twist right out of a Weiner novel, the short story was optioned by DreamWorks and an anthology was born.

“I was really surprised,” she said. “It was very unexpected, but very cool.”

Of course, writing short stories is a far cry from working on a novel, Weiner said.

“There are good and bad things about it,” said Weiner, a fan of the collected works of Lorrie Moore, Amy Bloom, Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. “You're done with it, you can write a good short story in a couple of weeks, but with a novel, you're – at least I'm – stuck with that baby for a year. But the hard part is you have to think about the details that you use to get your point across in 20 pages vs. 400.”

With her latest collection, however, Weiner is proving that the masters of the oft-maligned chick lit genre are voices to be reckoned with.

An accessible anthology that takes readers on a ride through divorce, heartbreak, insecurity and what might have been, “The Guy Not Taken” is a tender, thought-provoking read that puts Weiner on the map as one of her generation's best literary voices.

Weiner, however, just puts her head down and works. Oh yes, and she started a MySpace account. But not to lure curious ex-boyfriends.

“Networking,” she said. “Also, I'm desperately clinging to youth. At 36 with a 3-year-old? I'm trying to stave off the inevitable. MySpace was cheaper than plastic surgery.”

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