I just finished reading the novel "Still Life With Husband" by Milwaukee author Lauren Fox. The prestigious Knopf Publishing released the book, which came out in early 2007. I read a review of it in The New York Times a while back, and both the subject matter and the fact the author was from Brew City piqued my interest.
The book tells the story of Emily Ross, a 30-year-old freelance journalist married to a kind-but-predictable man. When she gets the chance to experience fire and passion with another guy, Ross goes for it, despite the risk of losing her solid -- albeit dull -- relationship with her husband. Let's face it, unbridled adultery is a fascinating topic for almost anyone who has been in a long-term relationship.
Being one of those people in a long-term relationship (10 years this October), "Still Life" was a captivating read and I blew through the 272-page book in about two days while on vacation.
The best part of the book, for me, was that the text is loaded with Milwaukee references, and it was fun to read the made-up names that are based on real Brew City locations.
For example, Ross is from "Bay Point," a suburb described as being seven miles north of Milwaukee. Clearly, this is Bayside and Fox Point morphed into one name. She also talks about "Olinger's" sausage factory (of course this is Usinger's), New Germany (New Berlin) and a bookshop with an attached café on the East Side called White's. (I think it's the Downer Avenue Schwartz.)
Also, numerous times in the book, Fox references the "Jupiter Cheese Palace," which is, of course, the Mars Cheese Castle, and at one point, Ross and her secret love go to the Milwaukee Public Museum, and Fox describes the Streets of Old Milwaukee, the butterfly garden and the display featuring Native Americans hunting bison. Unfortunately, she does not mention the "snake button," which is hidden between two rocks in the display that activates the tail of a fake rattlesnake.
Sure, "Still Life With Husband" (I am still surprised by how similar this title is to Tom Robbins' "Still Life With Woodpecker") falls into the "chick lit" or "beach blanket" categories, but for many Milwaukeeans, regardless of gender, the fun of reading a fictitious book that's chock full of familiar places adds another layer to the experience. Just one warning: it has one of those non-endings, where you have to decide for yourself what happens. This is slightly annoying and surprising, especially considering the rest of the book is a total spoon-feed. (But a tasty spoon feeding, mind you.)
That said, overall I found this book as refreshing as an icy High Life on a disgustingly humid day and way more entertaining then an episode of "Laverne & Shirley."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.