Laura Munson’s memoir, which details a rocky summer in her marriage of almost 15 years, begins when her husband drops a proverbial bomb in their Montana home: he tells her that her doesn’t love her anymore, and perhaps never has. Munson, an aspiring writer with 14 unpublished manuscripts to her name, immediately recalls the beginning of their courtship (the two met during their senior year of college) and the many challenges (debt, unemployment, Munson’s writing career) that their multi-decade relationship has had to endure.
The couple’s story does make for an interesting read: after dating for six years, the two relocate to Seattle and live the “twenty-something’s dream” of cramped apartments and coffee shops. Although Munson and her husband are considered unconventional and artsy by their W.A.S.P.-y parents, the young pair goes forward with a traditional over-the-top wedding and giggle to one another at the altar as if putting on a elaborate show.
But strains in the marriage appear shortly after the couple moves to Montana following a job offer for Munson’s husband. Always a city girl, Munson suddenly finds herself with house and baby, somewhat intimidated by Montana’s rural stretches, and for a moment experiencing a bit of The Talking Heads’ refrain, “How did I get here?” Munson’s unsuccessful literary career doesn’t help, either, and as her husband proposes moving out, Munson begins to blame herself and even her writing as the culprit in her crumbling marriage.
Unfortunately Munson’s premise carries far more weight than her narration. Although there are moments of beautiful reflection (particularly in reference to Munson’s junior year spent in Italy), overall, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is is a shoddily written memoir that relies more heavily on italics and double-talk narration than inspiring literary prose. Clearly, Munson can be a strong writer, as evidenced by certain poetic scenes (most take place on her porch), but is unable to apply this strength to the whole of the work. The book’s weaknesses flare up just as Munson’s own weakness do. As her insecurities fluctuate throughout the summer at the possibility of her husband seeing another woman, so does the caliber of her writing.
Sadly, Munson’s book can be added to the growing genre of silly, self-indulgent woman memoirs. Feel free to place This is Not The Story You Think It Is on your bookshelf not far from Eat, Pray, Love.
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