celebrity shopping

What Meg Wolitzer Can’t Live Without

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings and the new novel The Female Persuasion, about the custom Scrabble board, unsweetened iced tea, and coriander hand cream she can’t live without.

I really like to entertain myself in various ways when I’m writing. I’m always using my hands and typing with my hands, and they need a little attention. The hand cream just feels like a tiny way to take care of yourself in the middle of a long writing day. And it smells wonderful. I actually have it as a body lotion, too. I would never smell it and go, “Wow, that’s coriander!” If they say it’s coriander, I’m sure it’s coriander. I believe them. It just is a lovely, great scent.

I wrote a piece about this book for “The Enthusiast” column in the New York Times, where they ask you to write about a writer you love. I consider this a perfect novel. It’s about a Kansas City housewife, and it’s set mostly during World War II. It’s both hilarious and sad and a perfect character study while still giving a sense of what it was like to be a housewife and a woman in the world at the time. She’s held back by her circumstances, but also by who she is. We see her trying to do things and not getting through, and it’s maddening in some ways, but also hilarious. There are chapters and sections with titles that are just brilliant — you remember the characters years later. And after I wrote the piece, so many people wrote to me about which quotes were their own favorites. And you don’t know it, but I think you’ll love it. I’ve bought so many copies for different people and they always do.

I’m not particularly good at doodling. I’ll doodle the same face over and over again. I draw this cartoon man in profile, but I just do the face — the forehead and nose and lips and mouth. I’ll draw this all over different things in my apartment, and my husband once put a cartoon bubble above the head that said, “Why, oh why won’t you finish the back of my head?” I think when you’re writing or really doing something on the computer, any time you can get away from that even for a brief moment, to sing or jump around or draw, is a good idea. As a child, I would draw comic books, and I had all kinds of magic markers, so the Sharpies are a less-big way of the same idea now that I’m an adult. The drawings themselves aren’t good enough to publish. I think they’re really for me. In The Interestings, Ethan is an animator, and I did some little drawings of the characters for the New Yorker blog of how I imagined them. But I think the drawings have to be taken in the spirit with which they were offered, which is a very unschooled, not very fluent kind of cartooning. Or private doodles. I can’t even call it cartooning.

This was recommended by friends — I got the first month free, and right at the moment Andy began to speak, I fell into a state. I have a real response to that voice. I think of that voice as being connected to “Just do this. Just breathe.” Because I travel so much and do so much public speaking, I tend to forget to breathe, and I really love the time in the day when I can use it. So I definitely signed up. It’s funny to think about Andy’s voice versus someone else’s. What if it were the voice of the guy on the subway saying, “Stand clear of the closing doors?” Maybe I would be responding to that.