Shelton, Sandi Kahn
Shelton, Sandi Kahn
PERSONAL: Born in Jacksonville, FL; married Jim Shelton (a reporter); children: three. Education: Attended University of California, Santa Barbara; graduated from Southern Connecticut State College.
CAREER: Writer. New Haven Register, New Haven, CT, humor columnist, 1987–; Working Mother magazine, 1989–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best local column award, New England Associated Press, 1993.
You Might as Well Laugh: Surviving the Joys of Parenthood, Bancroft Press (Baltimore, MD), 1997.
Sleeping through the Night—and Other Lies, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Preschool Confidential, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
What Comes after Crazy (novel), Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Since the late 1980s Sandi Kahn Shelton has written a humor column for the New Haven Register on the mixed blessings of parenthood. Her first three books, You Might as Well Laugh: Surviving the Joys of Parenthood, Sleeping through the Night—and Other Lies, and Preschool Confidential, all deal with the problems parents have to face while caring for young children. "With a breezy style that belies a sophisticated wit, Shelton … exaggerates daily life with a baby, but only just a little," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor in a review of Sleeping through the Night—and Other Lies. The reviewer added that "readers will need to pay attention to realize when she crosses the line from vaguely absurd reality to hyperbole." Commenting on Preschool Confidential, Library Journal contributor Annette V. Janes wrote that the book is "a refreshing look at child rearing, written in short sections that can be read in five to ten minutes."
What Comes after Crazy is Shelton's first foray into fiction. The novel tells the story of Maz Lombard, a woman chasing normalcy after surviving a childhood under the influence of a sex-crazed carnival-fortune-teller mother. Maz's attempts to give her two daughters, ten-year-old Hope and younger sister Abbie, a normal childhod growing up are thwarted by her cheating ex-husband Lenny (recently returned from a year-long stay in New Mexico following an affair with his daughter's nursery-school teacher), and her manic-depressive mother Lucille—now beginning her sixth marriage—who insists on running Maz's life for her. Adding to the confusion are Maz's shy attempts to return to dating, first with a naturopathic doctor, and then with a much younger graduate student. She is also plagued by the boredom and lack of fulfillment stemming from her job as a baker of health-food bread. "When Lenny and Madame Lucille kidnap Hope and whisk her away to Santa Fe," a Publishers Weekly critic observed, "Maz realizes she must once and for all find the courage to defy her past in order to protect her future."
Critics acknowledged Shelton's accomplishment in What Comes after Crazy, praising her grasp of characterization and the sense of humor revealed in her fiction. "Shelton, author of three parenting books, has a good touch with mother/daughter conflicts and a strong sense of the ambiguities of friendships," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor. "Her Maz is a sympathetic character not in spite of but because of her self-acknowledged flaws." Library Journal reviewer Shelley Mosley wrote that "this remarkable fiction debut by the author of several parenting books is both hilarious and poignant." Booklist contributor Kristine Huntley concluded, "Shelton's lively novel is perfect for readers who enjoy the antics of quirky characters."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of What Comes after Crazy, p. 1139.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2005, review of What Comes after Crazy, p. 19.
Library Journal, April 15, 2001, Annette V. Janes, review of Preschool Confidential, p. 126; February 15, 2005, Shelley Mosley, review of What Comes after Crazy, p. 121.
People, April 11, 2005, review of What Comes after Crazy, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, April 5, 1999, review of Sleeping through the Night—and Other Lies, p. 233; February 7, 2005, review of What Comes after Crazy, p. 43.