In Amy Sohn’s ‘Motherland,’ even Park Slope parents aren’t having sex
New York may have fewer degrees of separation per capita than any city in the world. It’s not so farfetched that you might share a co-op shift with a movie star, or that your best friend’s wife’s lover’s pot dealer would be dating your boss.
Even though the interconnected characters motif has been done to death, it rings true in Amy Sohn’s “Motherland,” which goes on sale today, in which a network of disenchanted Park Slope parents try to navigate life after birth.
We spoke to Sohn about the changing faces of marriage, parenthood and Brooklyn.
Did you raise your own family in Brooklyn?
I’m actually a Brooklyn native: born in the early ’70s [and] raised in Brooklyn Heights, and I’ve been a Park Slope resident since 2004. I’ve never lived anywhere but Brownstone Brooklyn, except for college.
Are you then on both sides of the fence — part of the change while resisting it?
I was pregnant when we moved here, in 2004. Even in those eight years of living in the neighborhood, I’ve seen the affluence just grow and grow, and the careers people worked in changing from slightly more artistic — graphic designer, architect, advertising — to much more finance and law. It’s created some wonderful things — like there’s great fundraising going on for the private schools and the public schools, and you’ve got really, really motivated parents. But you also have people with totally different values interacting with each other. “The Slope” means so many things to so many different people, and you have different populations with very different ideals living in the same neighborhood.
Do you think non-New Yorkers will be able to get as much out of the book?
Absolutely. The themes of the book are totally universal: What is it like to look around and feel that you’ve given up on yourself or that your life has passed you by? What happens when you’ve bought into an entire set of bourgeois values and you don’t have any inner satisfaction? What happens when you wake up and feel your spouse is a stranger? What happens when you cheat? What are the consequences of that? Does it ever get better, if you leave your partner for someone else? [Laughs] To say that those are only Brownstone Brooklyn issues would be giving Brownstone Brooklyn way too much credit.