Sunday, November 8, 2015

MiniReview//Primates of Park Avenue

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin Goodreads | Amazon

Published by Simon & Schuster June 2, 2015

256 Pages

Source: Library

Like an urban Dian Fossey, Wednesday Martin decodes the primate social behaviors of Upper East Side mothers in a brilliantly original and witty memoir about her adventures assimilating into that most secretive and elite tribe.

After marrying a man from the Upper East Side and moving to the neighborhood, Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. Drawing on her background in anthropology and primatology, she tried looking at her new world through that lens, and suddenly things fell into place. She understood the other mothers' snobbiness at school drop-off when she compared them to olive baboons. Her obsessional quest for a Hermes Birkin handbag made sense when she realized other females wielded them to establish dominance in their troop. And so she analyzed tribal migration patterns, display rituals, physical adornment, mutilation, mating practices, extra-pair copulation, and more. Her conclusions are smart, thought-provoking, and hilariously unexpected.

Every city has its Upper East Side, and in Wednesday's memoir, readers everywhere will recognize the strange cultural codes of powerful social hierarchies and the compelling desire to climb them. They will also see that Upper East Side mothers want the same things for their children that all mothers want: safety, happiness, and success;and not even sky-high penthouses and chauffeured SUVs can protect this ecologically released tribe from the universal experiences of anxiety and loss. When Wednesday's life turns upside down, she learns how deep the bonds of female friendship really are.

Intelligent, funny, and heartfelt, Primates of Park Avenue lifts a veil on a secret, elite world within a world: the exotic, fascinating, and strangely familiar culture of privileged Manhattan motherhood.

I know there has been some controversy over Wednesday Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue. I can’t promise all of it is truthful, factual, or not misleading, however I can promise all of it is entertainingly clever. There were the moments of disbelief about the heavily hyped about wife bonus [link], but also some incredible humanity about Wednesday’s lady friend support system. Having lived in New York, I can totally envision the exclusiveness of the Upper East Side. Yet, this book also is a chunk of the cultural phenomena that opened up after Gossip Girl. But instead of focusing on the privileged youth, Primates of Park Avenue is about the neo-upper class. Wednesday and her husband themselves are the neo-upper class; they climbed the socioeconomic ladder to be able to afford the Upper East Side. Regardless of the story I also like the systematic organization of the book-- it was divided into specific incidents with the evolutionary anthropological part and then the memoir part. Overall a quick read unlacing the upper class.

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