When it comes to memoirs, divorce is all the rage

This is the year of the dragon, the elections – and the best-selling wedding memoirs, if you subscribe to the idea that three is a trend. First there was “More,” Molly Roden Winter’s polyamory story, which landed on the nonfiction list in February. Then the romantic tide turned, with two divorce stories amicably taking last week’s No. 7 and No. 9 spots. As tempting as it is to pit their authors, Leslie Jamison and Lyz Lenz – both mothers in their early 40s – against each other, resist the urge. We are better than that.

And so do these chroniclers of disconnection, conscious and otherwise. (“Thanks, Gwyneth Paltrow, for paving the way,” Lenz said in a telephone interview, “but you have to be rich to consciously uncouple.”) When Lenz learned that her book “This American Ex-Wife” was being published shared a date with Jamison’s ‘Splinters’, she immediately reached out. The two writers had met at a book party for Lenz’s first book, “Godland,” and were friendly with people who, at one point or another, approached social media as a break room for solo workers. Lenz and Jamison traded books in June and then exchanged warm messages just before their books came out.

“We’re both trying to change stories — or create new ones — in a way that I think really resonates with women in America,” Lenz said. She continued, “There is still this idea in our culture that marriage is this box that you can check off, this unquestionable commitment. So many people come and it is less than they thought.”

As Lenz stared at the end of her marriage, she thought she would “go to the other side and be this big, sad sack.” But, she said, “I wasn’t even that sad about it. I’m not sad about it at all. Why am I hedging?”

While Lenz was working on “This American Ex-Wife,” she listened to Nora Ephron’s “Heartburn,” narrated by Meryl Streep, four times. She immersed herself in works by Betty Friedan and Ellen Willis. “I have also read three biographies of Princess Diana,” she said. “I remember having this thought: If she could divorce the royal family, I can divorce a Midwestern family.”

Why are so many of us drawn to books about the end of marriage? “People like clutter. They like rubbernecks,” Lenz said. “I wanted to give people a book that helps them stop apologizing for breaking up, for falling apart, for not being able to keep control.” She added, “So many other divorce books out there say, this is how you hold the reins. This is how you double the Dutch. I wanted the burn-it-down lady to come into the chat and say: But also? You can let it go.”

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