Friday, October 30, 2015

My Wife Wants You to Know I'm Happily Married, by Joey Franklin

BYU English professor Joey Franklin wants you to know he's happily married.  Actually, he wants you to know a lot about him, as he tells his stories in My Wife Wants You to Know I'm Happily Married, his new collection of essays.  Like most of his students, who "know they've lived relatively ordinary lives," Franklin's life has been pretty ordinary.  Yet he is "happy excavating" his life "to share a bit of rough-polished humanity with someone else," namely, you and me.  These explorations in what he calls creative nonfiction convey his experiences in such a way that the reader might reflect more deeply on his own ordinary life.

Franklin covers a wide range of his experiences as a son, student, missionary, college instructor, father, husband, airline passenger, dancer, new homeowner, and as one losing his hair prematurely.  I particularly enjoyed his reflections on his name, Joey, as an essential part of his identity.  Franklin's primary source material is, of course, his own memory, but he also draws from a wide array of literary and, on occasion, even scientific and academic sources, taking his personal stories to a much higher and more universal level.

In the titular essay, which is really what prompted me to pick up the book, Franklin celebrates the ordinariness of marriage.  He says his wife "threatened to make me a shirt that read, 'My wife wants you to know that I am happily married.'"  He came to believe that this was not so much to ward off admirers, but to "remind me, the wearer, of a particular version of our story, . . . a series of well-spun yarns that remind us why we're together, that help us reaffirm we've made the right choice--that the person we wake up to each morning is really the person we want to wake up to."  Franklin wants to "remember moments of beauty when the truth is anything but."  That, married friends, is well worth remembering.

Franklin's essays are just deep enough not to be trivial, just light-hearted enough not to be heavy, and readable enough not to be dull.  Highly recommended!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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