I ate that can of Pringles when I swore once I popped, I would stop. (Cheating.)
I admit to allowing my eyes to roam on that pop quiz in the seventh grade cause Tim Silver in the fourth row always did his homework. (Cheating.)
My drink at Starbucks was sucked into the vortex of missing lattes, so I snatched that frapuccino sitting on the counter in contempt. (Cheating.)
None is as awfully damaging, though, as the relationship variety. Perhaps we've seen some appalling unfaithful exchanges in movies and in our favorite soap operas, but when it happens to us, we dare not shout to the world of our heartache.
It's too personal, it's too raw, it's too...taboo.
In author Victoria Zackheim's new book, The Other Woman: Twenty-one Wives, Lovers, and Others Talk Openly About Sex, Deception, Love, and Betrayal, 21 female writers reveal with great insight and brutal honesty their tales of infidelity--and how they moved on.
With each unique story, contributors such as Mary Jo Eustace, Diana Abu-Jaber, and Jane Smiley share their first-hand accounts with the sensitive subject in a way only a writer can: prolifically.
iVillage sat down with Victoria Zackheim to get the exclusive scoop on the latest project affecting the lives of women everywhere.
Four Questions with Victoria Zackheim
iVillage: The Other Woman could certainly be described as "explosive." In your humble opinion, is this book safer on a coffee table, a nightstand, or one's dental office waiting room?
Zackheim: The safest place for The Other Woman is in the hands of every woman who has been or suffered the other woman, known someone who was has been or suffered the other woman...or every woman who is THINKING of becoming the other woman. (And yes, men should read it, too. It will remind them of the devastation their cheating can cause.)
iVillage: Writers, as I can surely attest, are usually residents of the extrovert universe--the emoting, the thinking, the exploring.
When compiling these stories of The Other Woman, did you examine the possibility of taking selections from 21 doctors, chemists, or accountants, perhaps yielding a cerebral, less narrative tale of cheating?
Zackheim: Does it really matter WHO is telling the story? Would a Pulitzer Prize author feel the sting of a cheating husband any less painfully than a chemist? We're talking about human emotions, not professional specialties. Pain is pain...and survival with dignity crosses every profession.
iVillage: Upon reading Mary Jo Eustace's story about her husband's affair with actress Tori Spelling, I literally could not believe someone would (or could!) speak so frankly about a relationship gone awry with someone so public.
I literally had to put my astonishment in check with a quick Google affirmation to see that, no, she is not trying to be funny by referring to her husband's mistress as "Tori Spelling," she is, indeed, Tori Spelling. (Author M.J. Rose gives readers of your book a disclaimer, most likely for that exact reason!)
Do you believe that with such unabashed honesty comes salvation for these women? Or is it simply just a great autobiographical story?
Zackheim: If you look at all the stories in this anthology, you'll see that there are unifying threads. Forget the 'great autobiographical story' part...look for moving on in one's life with dignity and purpose.
As for Mary Jo...I can't even imagine what it was like, having my heartache splashed across every tabloid, TV show, Internet link, blog...you name it. How did she come out with her dignity intact? Because she put her children first and focused on regrouping, reconstructing her life. It's a story every woman needs to read.
iVillage: "It didn't matter that I had just cheated in my heart; I wouldn't allow my husband to lust after anyone but me." (pg. 103)
Overall, was it a case of a lesser of the two evils when it came to cheating physically versus emotionally, or was it a different classification for each woman's story?
Zackheim: First of all, let's not lose sight of the fact that when WE lust after someone, we know that we've kept our emotions in check. (At least, most of us have.) But when our mate is lusting, we have no control over where that's going to go.
You're asking me to compare 21 stories and I really can't...except to say that each one is as unique as the exceptional authors who wrote them. Some are hilariously funny, others are tragic, all are poignant and remind us of how risky it is to love.
Talk About "The Other Woman" and Share Your Own Stories
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Preview excerpts from The Other Woman, as featured on TODAY.
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