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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 13, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 37
The ghosts of Occupy Wall Street are lurking in The Not Wives
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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The ghosts of Occupy Wall Street are lurking in The Not Wives

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

THE NOT WIVES
BY CARLEY MOORE
FEMINIST PRESS


I'm not sure what the Occupy Wall Street protests actually accomplished. The Great Recession is a dim memory, a story we tell in the context of our own lives.

'My brother lost his job.'

'My parents barely hung on to their house.'

'The neighborhood was boarded up like a ghost town.'

While numerous large firms like Lehman Brothers, AIG, Citigroup, Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, and Credit Suisse among many other large firms unscrupulously cheated us into an economic meltdown not seen since 1929, only one guy went to jail according to a story by Jesse Eisinger co-published by The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica: 'The Rise of Corporate Impunity' by Jesse Eisinger, April 30, 2014. And according to the same article that guy was Kareem Serageldin, an Egyptian-born trader who worked for Credit Suisse and served 30 months in the Moshannon Valley Correctional facility in Philipsburg, PA. Go figure.

Not a single other one of the rich and powerful and largely white men who played hard and fast with the lives, livelihoods, and homes of average folks everywhere went to jail.

It's difficult to understand how the largest man-made economic disaster since the Depression resulted in one Egyptian dude going to the slammer. And it was that very frustration, the feeling that the game was rigged and the plutocracy had become real that boiled up into the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. And that's the backdrop for Carley Moore's new novel The Not Wives.

The titular 'not wives' are three women living in New York circa 2011. The central character is Stevie, a 42 year-old untenured teacher at a private college in Manhattan who is struggling through the end of her marriage while trying to co-parent a six year old daughter and cope with oppressive student debt and the looming loss of her apartment in student housing, the only apartment in her beloved Manhattan that she can afford.

Stevie's besty is Mel. They've known each other forever, and their bond is unbreakable. Mel once taught, but traded the adjunct drudgery for a life behind a bar in a trendy restaurant that is pricey but not quite fine dining and has an umlaut in the name. Mel and her girlfriend Jenny are working on creating an open relationship, but that is made more complicated because Mel is hot for the new chef Carmine, a dude's dude.

Johanna is a 17 year-old bad attitude with a shitty boyfriend named Butch and a sweet dog named Tipsy. She spends her days unbathed swilling Robitussin and trading blowjobs for heroin in Washington Square. She ran away at 14 for very good reasons. The other central character in The Not Wives is New York City. The love/hate relationship is illustrated by lovely passages that make me want to return there:

'We both stopped talking in the way all non-native New Yorkers do on drunk cab rides between boroughs - to stare at the city's magical lights, the night skyline that reminded us why we came so long ago. To be in a live place! To never be bored! To die trying!'

And there is sex! Not gratuitous sex, but sex that becomes part of each woman's journey toward a more honest and healthier identity. It's political sex. It's angry sex. It's often good sex and sometimes bad or even boring sex. The sex scenes are sexy, like good erotica, but they are also deeply part of the politics and feminism that we struggle with nearly 60 years after The Feminine Mystique and nearly 230 years after A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

The Not Wives is a well-crafted novel. The characters are fully fleshed and flawed in wonderful and awful ways, even the peripheral ones. The threads and themes are many and complicated, but Moore keeps things sorted and running along at a pace that seems just right. And the Occupy movement, while seemingly a lifetime ago, is with us today in the words of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

That feeling that justice wasn't served is present today and gnaws in the back of our minds, the feeling planted there by the people camping out in Zucotti Park and countless other parks around the country back in 2011. We have seen the stagnant wages of the middle class and the achingly slow rate of job growth over the last decade while the 1% do better and better. Housing prices are sky-high and the average car costs $37,000. The middle class is nearly a memory and weary.

Set against the grand theme and idealism of the Occupy movement are these real people, the characters in the novel and the people on the street, who have to fall in love, pay bills, have sex, raise children, go to work, end relationships, open bank accounts, cook breakfast, and figure it all out. That's what Stevie, Mel, and Johanna are trying to do. I highly recommend that you go with them.

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My Son, the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy - An interview with Brad Zimmerman
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An interview with author Carley Moore about The Not Wives ahead of her appearance with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore at Elliott Bay Book Company on Sunday, Sept. 22
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Sketchtasy is metamodern navel-gazing at its best
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The ghosts of Occupy Wall Street are lurking in The Not Wives
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Is God Is channels mythology
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A wild night with the women who rock - Heart, Joan Jett (w/special guest, Elle King) shake the Tacoma Dome
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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Women run the world - Chelsea Stardust on the female-driven euphoria of directing horror-comedy Satanic Panic
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Uneven Goldfinch a visually rich and emotionally intimate melodrama
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