Newman’s memoir, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding seemed like it would be a perfect book for someone disinterested in having children and spending their life travelling on exotic adventures instead. Newman does deliver on exotic adventures–just not on the kind I expected. The memoir is full of description after description of sexual exploits, good looking men, Newman’s failed attempts at relationships and a small amount of travel narrative. The synopsis promises “mastering the art of ‘vacationship’” and tales “that will have readers scrambling to renew their passports.” Unless you plan to travel in Newman’s footsteps and leave the country for the sole purpose of bedding men, I strongly doubt you’ll rush out to renew your passport.
The book is intriguing, entertaining and humorous. It hits all the marks there, so it’s not a failure. Newman tells tales from the voice of a strong, independent woman and is really willing to try almost anything once. Newman, however, didn’t choose the single, travelling life. She merely traded it in in lieu of responsibility and societal norms of marrying and bearing children in your twenties and thirties, but she never stops hoping and wishing that she’ll end up there someday. She was searching for love and in the process had some fantastic experiences. Her travels stemmed from not having a perfect boyfriend to have children with and her need to escape the pressure to find that man/situation. Newman’s stories are focused on world travelling to experience exotic men and tales of her sexual exploits. Newman’s stories are told in linear fashion, broken out by destination.
I was intrigued because amidst these stories that are written in conversational voice (you’ll be tired at the end), there were at least descriptions of some of the places (rather than beds and other locations of sexual exploits). The book is a fast read and does provide entertainment, just not at all what the book premise promises or what I expected from the book. The book is written well, but not great.
I do not believe Newman has mastered the art of “vacationship” unless you count picking up and sleeping with the first man you encounter when visiting a new place, but she does at least make attempts at describing travels and living arrangements that could be compelling to other world travelers. She also takes the road less travelled (no 4 star resorts for the most part) which I can truly appreciate.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Three Rivers Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.