Weisman, Mary-Lou 1937-
WEISMAN, Mary-Lou 1937-
PERSONAL: Born November 22, 1937, in New Haven, CT; daughter of Herbert Louis (an attorney) and Gertrude (a sculptor; maiden name, Perelmutter) Cohen; married Lawrence Paul Weisman (an attorney), June 4, 1961; children: Adam Paul, Peter Benjamin (deceased). Education: Attended Bryn Mawr College, 1955-57; Brandeis University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1960; studied gestalt therapy techniques at Esalen Institute, 1970-71.
ADDRESSES: Home and office—11 Greenwood Ln., Westport, CT 06880. Agent—Amanda Urban, International Creative Management (ICM), 40 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1960-63, began as clerk-typist, became assistant editor; Curtis Brown Ltd., New York, NY, manuscript reader, 1965-68; Fairpress Newspaper, Westport, CT, 1972-76, began as reporter, became humor columnist;New York Times, author of syndicated column "One Woman's Voice," 1978-80; Connecticut Magazine, senior editor, 1980-81; freelance writer, 1982—. Manuscript reader for Sussman & Sugar, New York, NY, 1961-63; founder and publisher of alternative local newspaper, Westport, CT, 1968-69. Staff group leader at New Haven Center for Human Relations, 1972-73. Guest on television programs, including "Good Morning, America," 1975-79 and 1982. Instructor at Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, 1980-81. Member of Westport Library Advisory Board.
Intensive Care: A Family Love Story, Random House (New York, NY), 1982.
My "Middle-Aged" Baby Book: A Record of Milestones, Millstones, and Gallstones, illustrated by Paul Meisel, Workman (New York, NY), 1995.
Traveling while Married, illustrated by Edward Koren, Algonquin Books (Chapel Hill, NC), 2003.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including New York Times, Connecticut Weekly, Vogue, Newsweek, Newsday, and Woman's Day.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Writing for magazines and newspapers.
SIDELIGHTS: Freelance writer Mary-Lou Weisman's first book, Intensive Care: A Family Love Story, chronicles the author's life with her son Peter as he is dying of muscular dystrophy. Though the family's encounters with medicine, psychic healing, and a human potential center are recorded, the book is about Peter—and Weisman's promise that her son's "life must grow steadily and bravely upward, against a declining graph line of utter failure." "Weisman lifts Peter like a candle to illuminate so much internal and external territory that Intensive Care exceeds without transgressing the bounds of the book," noted Phyllis Theroux in the Washington Post Book World. Continuing her praise for the book, Theroux maintained: "Intensive Care is tough, funny, heart-breaking and astute." Likewise, Anatole Broyard, writing in the New York Times, remarked: "Weisman is a good writer and she manages to bring a desperate humor to Intensive Care without undermining its awful seriousness." The story of Peter and his family's struggle to lead meaningful lives in the face of death became the subject of the made-for-television movie A Time to Live starring Liza Minnelli, for which Weisman served as a technical advisor. Although Weisman found it difficult to relive her family's distress, she used humor to alleviate the tension.
Writing was therapy for Weisman, who began writing the book two years before Peter died. She told CA: "The creative engine that drives me is the need to make meaning out of the meaningless—by definition a doomed enterprise. Yet I find the process intriguing, if ambiguous. Still, along the way there are moments of true feeling, soaring instants of inexplicable compassion, and magical synchronicities that befuddle and delight the hard-nosed cynic in me. I work at the ancient art of alchemy, trying to extract gold from baser mettles and hard, slag ironies. Essentially, I suppose, I write to comfort."
Humor has been a hallmark of Weisman's writings. Witness her 1995 title, My "Middle-Aged" Baby Book: A Record of Milestones, Millstones, and Gallstones, which includes chapters about a root canal, reading glasses, and a bedtime bottle. Weisman revealed her inspiration for this over-forty title: "I never had a real baby book," she told Maynard Good Stoddard of the Saturday Evening Post. "I was a second child, so my mother wrote in the margins of my sister's book. And I was never as good as her—I was shorter, my teeth came in slower, I walked later. I still have that book, and it's been my inspiration. And now I have my revenge—my own baby book."
A contributor to Public Radio International's Savvy Traveler, Weisman in 2003 published her own book about she and her husband's traveling. In Traveling while Married, she admits that her and her husband have quite different personalities, biorhythms, and sight-seeing goals, so she has had first-hand experience in developing methods that work for vacationing couples. Avoiding too much togetherness is a key, as is having a sense of humor. Noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "Weisman's breezy humor may make for a quick read…. Her get-up-and-go spirit is conta gious."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2003, Carol Haggas, review of Traveling while Married, p. 1372.
Boston Globe, June 1, 2003, Diane Daniel, "Couples Travel Best Whose Styles Offset," review of Traveling while Married, p. M.6.
Library Journal, September 15, 1982, review of Intensive Care: A Family Love Story p. 1749.
Los Angeles Times, December 20, 1982, Ruth C. Ikerman, review of Intensive Care, p. 18.
Mademoiselle, January, 1983, Jane Howard, review of Intensive Care, p. 35.
New Republic, November 8, 1982, Maggie Scarf, review of Intensive Care, p. 38.
New York Times, October 23, 1982, Anatole Broyard, review of Intensive Care, p. 16; November 14, 1982, Anatole Broyard, "Special Kids and Parents," p. 39; September 16, 1984, review of Intensive Care, p. 42; October 28, 1985, John O'Connor, "A Time to Live," p. C18.
People, November 4, 1985, Jane Hall, "Fighting Her Son's Disease," pp. 61-63.
Publishers Weekly, August 6, 1982, review of Intensive Care, p. 64; March 31, 2003, review of Traveling while Married, p. 57.
Quest, April, 2001, review of Intensive Care, p. 65.
Saturday Evening Post, November-December, 1966, Maynard Good Stoddard, review of My "Middle-Aged" Baby Book: A Record of Milestones, Millstones, and Gallstones, p. 46.
USA Today, July 18, 2003, Kitty Bean Yancey, "Have Spouse, Will Travel … Harmoniously," p. D.12.
Washington Post, October 29, 1982, Phyllis Theroux, review of Intensive Care, p. B1.*