Context is Everything

Today, I’m updating my nonfiction book proposal by adding a bit of backstory to my discussion of the trophy wife phenomenon. My goal is to show how perceptions of her have evolved across continents and over time. 

On a coffee break, I picked up the newspaper and read this:

When he first got into the business 31 years ago, Bush tied himself to his monkey every night for three weeks. His wife would say goodnight and shut him in the family room and turn up the volume on the television.

“Look, this is the real McCoy here, pal, just me and you,” Bush would say to the monkey, a white-faced capuchin named George.

Then the monkey would holler at Bush and Bush would holler at the monkey until they were both so exhausted that they passed out. After three weeks, they started to develop a mutual understanding.

The wife left him, and Bush and George performed together for 15 years. When George died, Bush did not want to pay top dollar for taxidermy, so he had George freeze-dried, and set him on a shelf in the study, where he still sits today, paws extended in mid-air. That, as Bush would say, is another story.”

Oops! I somehow missed the first paragraph of the story, which certainly affected my reactions overall! 

My mistake reinforces an editor’s suggestion that I put my interview subjects into a cultural/historical context. I’m grateful to her for sharing this idea; I can already see the difference it makes.


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