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Friday, June 12, 2015

(47)Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin

Have you ever been to the Upper East Side of Manhattan?  I haven't - well, at least I don't think I have - that family trip to New York City was fifteen years ago.  According to author Wednesday Martin, traveling to the Upper East Side is akin to traveling to another planet.  When she and her husband, an Investment Manager, made the move to the Upper East Side she decided it was worth writing a book about the world that is the Upper East Side.   In her book, Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin takes an anthropological approach to her observations often comparing the behaviors of UES mothers to behaviors you would find in the animal kingdom.  She writes about the ultra-competitiveness you would expect from the spouses and offspring of ultra-alpha-males.   She writes about the expectations of wives, mothers and children of these men.   She writes about the excessive wealth of these residents. And she writes about her efforts, as a humble woman from the Midwest, to assimilate to these strange and fascinating ways of the Upper East Side.

Let it be known that since publication of Primates of Park Avenue it has come to light that Wednesday Martin was not as accurate as one would should be when writing a memoir. There were a few exaggerations and discrepancies noted in this New York Times Article.  From almost the first page of the book I found myself entertained by the excessive living that happens on the Upper East Side, I mean don't these women ever have a day where they just binge-watch Netflix and eat pizza and ice cream? (Answer: NO!)  Early on the narrative in my head sounded a lot like Lindsay Lohan's observations and narratives in the movie Mean Girls. And that was essentially what it was. Mean Girls come to life in the Upper East Side.    I understand the author's need to acclimate and fit in, but she pretty much lost my respect when she spent an inordinate amount of time in the book covering her obsession (and subsequent purchase) of a Birkin bag.  The author spent a huge chunk of the book playing up to her Midwestern roots and identifying as someone not like "those mothers" in her neighborhood, but that Birkin bag had me calling bullshit on the humble Midwest upbringing having any impact on her current outlook on life.   I lost some interest in the book after that, but I made it through and was left feeling as if the Upper East Side really is another world.

Bottom line - one of the reasons I love to read is because I want to learn about things and places and people outside of my own little world.   Maybe it is because I have a thirst for knowledge or maybe it is because I am a little voyeuristic or maybe I just love to be a Judgy McJudgerson on how other people live their lives. My desire to read  Primates of Park Avenue  might just fit into all of those categories.   I think  Primates of Park Avenue is definitely worth the read, but go into knowing that it is a bit over the top.