Curtis Sittenfeld: "American Wife," September 2, 2008

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Hardcover: 576 pages Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (September 2, 2008) Language: English ISBN-10: 1400064759 ISBN-13: 978-1400064755 Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.6 inches Shipping Weight: 2 pounds

Here are a few excerpts from the book, found on the Internet, that need to be checked for accuracy. It contains passages relevant to the history of sexuality, gender, intimacy and alienation.

Alice Blackwell, the Laura Bush character, discovers her grandmother's sexual relationship with another woman, Dr. Gladys Wycomb (who, incidentally, defends the rights of Negroes to non-segregated facilities):

. . . I stepped instead into the living room, and just before I crossed the threshold, I heard my grandmother’s laughter, and just after I heard her laughter, I saw her sitting on Dr. Wycomb’s lap, kissing Dr. Wycomb on the lips.

Dr. Wycomb was dressed in a burgundy silk bathrobe; my grandmother was wearing a beige bra and a beige half-slip trimmed with lace. She was facing Dr. Wycomb, and their mouths were open a little and their eyes were closed, and the kiss went on for several seconds and had not yet stopped when I backed out, so stunned that briefly, my shock outweighed my queasiness. I had to leave the apartment; there was no alternative. And so I did, handling the door as carefully and quietly as possible. In the hall, my nausea came roaring back, and by the time I knew what I was doing, I’d already done it. On either side of the elevator were large metallic vases, almost three feet high, with red bows tied around them and Christmas greens emerging artfully from their centers. Approaching the nearer vase, I pushed aside the greens and then I vomited—hideously, pungently, gloriously—into the vase’s depths.

"Alice" has sex with the brother of the boy she killed:

[H]e pushed me back against the mattress, straddled me, and leaned forward to roll his face between my breasts, pressing them against his cheeks and licking my nipples, his stubble rubbing not unpleasantly against my skin, and the more he grabbed and thrashed, the more the grabbing and thrashing seemed to stir rather than satisfy his desire. He pulled off my pants and underwear at the same time—I was wearing blue jeans, and he had to unbutton and unzip them first—and then I was naked except for my socks, which were white with lace trim. He tugged me upward and flipped me over, and when he said, 'No, you have to be on your knees,' it was the first time either of us had spoken in several minutes.

"Alice" gets an abortion [her grandmother seems to be advising her and Dr. Wycomb assisting]:

'We'll go to Chicago, and we'll have it taken care of. Next week, likely. I need to make a few calls. You can do as you see fit, but I'd advise against saying anything to your parents. I just can't imagine what purpose it would serve.'

I felt an impulse then to express incomprehension, except that I did comprehend. At night, when I listened to 'Lonesome Town,' I knew. She was right.

"Isn't it—" I hesitated. "Isn't it illegal?"

'Certainly, and it happens all the time. You can't legislate human nature.'

[...]My grandmother was not permitted in the operating room—when Dr. Wycomb appeared in the white coat. She squeezed my hand, and the warmth of her grip made me realize how cold I was. I wore a blue hospital gown, and when I lay on the operating table, the nurse had me set my feet in metal stirrups. 'The doctor wants to talk to you before we put you under,' the nurse said, and ten or twelve minutes had passed.

Questions: Is this Alice's maternal or paternal grandmother?

Is Dr. Wycomb based on an friend of one of Laura Bush's grandmothers?

Is there someone Dr. Whycomb is based on?