Anna Quindlen and Marilyn Gardner (interview date 13 October 1988)

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1327

SOURCE: Quindlen, Anna, and Marilyn Gardner. “Columnist Anna Quindlen.” Christian Science Monitor 80, no. 223 (13 October 1988): 21-2.

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[In the following interview, Quindlen discusses women in the workplace, child care, and her future plans.]

Early in her third pregnancy, Anna Quindlen, the syndicated columnist, made an important decision.

Quindlen would not undergo amniocentesis, a medical procedure commonly performed on women over age 35 to determine the condition of the fetus.

She and her husband, she reasoned, were prepared to raise and love the baby, due in November, regardless of its physical or mental condition.

Later, when Quindlen wrote a column about her decision, the piece drew more mail than any she had written. Although she had expected a lively response from readers, she says she “didn't expect so much of the discussion and the distress to coalesce around me personally.”

One woman in particular rankled her by writing, “The Anna Quindlen I know would never have made this decision.”

“I was stomping around the kitchen,” Quindlen recalls, “and I said to my husband, ‘She doesn't even know me!’ He replied, ‘For 2[frac12] years you've given people permission to know you, and you've invited them into this house. You can't pull the plug now just because you don't like it.’”

For a writer, this kind of emotional connection with strangers is one of the perils of Quindlen's brand of self-revelatory reporting.

Yet for readers, her weekly invitation into the kitchen, nursery, and psyche of a thoroughly '80s family has proved to be enormously appealing.

About 60 newspapers now carry her column, syndicated by the New York Times. And 65 of those columns—dealing with everything from marriage and motherhood to sibling rivalry and junk food—have been collected in a book, Living Out Loud.

“We've sort of edged into this first-person, home-based journalism, which has really taken over now,” Quindlen explains.

“It's taken us a while to get to the point where people are comfortable with you saying, ‘Gee, my mother died, and it changed my life.’ Or, ‘I'm going to have a baby, and I don't want to have this test, because I couldn't do anything to end its life.’”

For Quindlen, the oldest of five children raised in what she describes as “the silly branch of a funny family,” the strength of her columns derives from the 15 years she spent as a reporter—first for the New York Post and then for the New York Times, where she covered city hall and served as deputy metropolitan editor.

Now, instead of reporting breaking news, her beat involves “reporting on my life.”

It's a life she shares with husband, Gerald Krovatin, a criminal defense lawyer, and the couple's two young sons, Quin, 5, and Christopher, 2.

It's also a life she describes as “charmed,” saying, “I have the kind of work that makes it easy to work part time and at home. And I have the kind of husband who, A, is there, and, B, makes enough money so we don't have to worry about getting quality child care.”

At the same time, Quindlen empathizes with parents who do not share those advantages. “It's still incredibly hard to combine career and family,” she says. Yet, she admits, she is “not as thrilled as I should be” by the current political debate over family issues.

“When they start talking about child-care programs, I get nervous at the idea of the feds running child care. My experience is that the feds don't run things that well. If a national child-care program ran the way some other federal agencies did, it would be deeply troubling.”

Instead, she argues in favor of more corporate initiatives, such as on-site day care and six-month parental leaves that would include “a fair amount of salary, no loss of seniority, and, most...

(The entire section contains 33651 words.)

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