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Literature / Good in Bed

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Candace "Cannie" Shapiro is a journalist at the Philadelphia Examiner, and her life seems fairly straightforward. She has a decent job, is fairly successful, and owns an adorable rat terrier named Nifkin. But, then again, there's that fact that her father walked out on her when she was younger, her mother coming out of the closet with a rather unpleasant girlfriend, and an incident with a certain guy she thought was the one. And one day, that certain guy, following a break, publishes an article entitled "Loving a Larger Woman"-which leads a (more) self-conscious Cannie to try rekindling their romance. Unfortunately for her, their next sexual encounter leaves her pregnant, which causes her a dilemma. But, from there, Cannie undergoes a journey that takes her from Philadelphia to Hollywood and back. Some things get better, some things get worse, but overall, Cannie begins to chart a new course for her life.

Published in 2001, Good in Bed is the debut novel of Jennifer Weiner.

Good in Bed provides examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Lampshaded by Maxi, after Cannie brings Adrian Stadt to her house, to recover after passing out. She notes that Cannie didn't take nude photos of him, while he was out of it, which proves she's a good person.
  • Abusive Parents: Dr. Shapiro fills this trope; he was a loving yet absent-minded father at first and then around the time Cannie hit puberty, he became more insulting to his wife (towards her weight and sexuality), Cannie (telling her she's fat and ugly), Cannie's younger sister (calling her stupid), and the youngest brother (because he was "babyish").
  • Acrofatic: Cannie and her mother are both large women, but both are very athletic and take regular walks, Cannie even competed in sports.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: A plot point in the novel, as Cannie becomes incredibly self-conscious about her weight, enters a weight loss program in an attempt to shed it, and has memories of thinking that it possibly contributed to her father deserting her family. Not to mention how Bruce capitalizes on this trope with his "Loving a Larger Woman" column. By the end of the novel, following her recovery period after giving premature birth to Joy, she regains her old weight and is comfortable with her figure.
    • During her time in Hollywood, Cannie meets a larger woman who is perfectly comfortable with her figure and teaches classes. She's dumbfounded as to how this woman can be so content, confident, and charismatic.
  • Celeb Crush: During her stay in Hollywood, Cannie gets to meet hers, Adrian Stadt. They go for a drive to the beach, but their time together is cut short when he passes out as a consequence of his drug use. She gets him to Maxi's house to recover, and he later repays her by granting her use of his high-end car for the rest of her stay.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: After Maxi manages to get Cannie's screenplay approved by a major studio, Cannie gets a taste of the famous life in Hollywood. And she loves it, until she gradually becomes more and more homesick for her old life in Philadelphia.
  • Cure Your Gays: Cannie and her siblings evoke this, at one point (including the burning of a pride rainbow scarf Cannie's mother gave her). However, it's made clear that it's less out of homophobia and more out of a desire to regain their old life. And because Tanya isn't the most pleasant person, at first.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Cannie comes very close to crossing this, after falling in the airport bathroom nearly killed Joy, forcing her into a premature birth.
  • Disappeared Dad: Cannie's father walked out on her and her family, one day. She discovers that he works in Hollywood as a plastic surgeon. Cannie schedules a bogus appointment to confront him, but ultimately gets no answer. He instead just walks away, and she never sees him, again.
    • This also applies to Bruce, to a point, as he continues to distance himself from Cannie, even after finding out she's pregnant with his child.
  • Doting Parent: Bruce's parents are this trope, they're practically a Jewish Mike and Carol.
  • Erudite Stoner: Subverted with Bruce, who is a pothead but not particularly profound. Even with his "Loving a Larger Woman" column.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While it's questionable as to whether or not she pushed Cannie in the bathroom-as Cannie accuses-, Bruce's girlfriend is horrified when Cannie starts bleeding.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Cannie wonders if she should keep the child or have an abortion. After hearing the voice of God and feeling the child inside her, Cannie decides to go through with the pregnancy. (Although, at first, there is something of a defeatist, "It's been decided for me" vibe about it.)
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Cannie jokes/assumes she and Bruce being this during their time of dating; later she then meets his "rebound girl" and sees that though the woman is more slender than Cannie, she is unremarkable looking with an average build and meager bust line with an overbite.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Cannie's fall in the airport bathroom nearly kills Joy, who is forced into a premature birth. Thankfully, Joy recovers.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Cannie gets into a confrontation with Bruce's new girlfriend in an airport bathroom, which ends with her falling and striking her pregnant belly against one of the sinks. This leads to not only a hysterectomy that will keep her from having more children, but almost killed her baby, Joy, because of a forced premature birth.
  • Jerkass: Maxi's agent, April, is extremely abrasive towards Cannie, especially as she tries to get to her scheduled interview with Maxi (that was conveniently cancelled by a notice she never got). Maxi herself dodges April as much as she can, for this reason.
  • Jerkass Realization: Cannie has one of these when she realizes how abrasive and distant she was towards her mother, Peter, and others, for trying to help her after she nearly loses Joy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tanya is abrasive, blunt, and often delivers Too Much Information after being asked simple questions. But she undoubtedly cares about Cannie's mother and comes to help Cannie in the novel.
  • Jewish Mother: Zig-zagged, defied, broken, subverted, and double-subverted with several examples.
    • Cannie's Mother loves babies and is quite the Chef of Iron, the trope is nodded to when she lightly laments Cannie not being a lesbian, however her parenting methods are rather laissez-faire. Also defying the trope is that she is a divorced lesbian.
    • Cannie becomes a mother at the end but almost loses her infant daughter and the story focuses on her; the sequel "Certain Girls" has her in a similar position as the trope, but with a sympathetic treatment because she is dealing with an adolescent daughter as a woman who has a body image issues that hurt her in the past. Cannie even notes that she never felt the tick-tocking on her biological clock.
    • "The Ever Tasteful Audrey", Bruce's mother is a very genteel, upper-middle class, pleasant mannered version of the trope who is also Silk Hiding Steel given what she deals with in one year: her husband dies, her son sometimes depends on her and her husband for money, her son is irresponsible and doesn't take any responsibility for his paternity, and her granddaughter is born premature.
    • Cannie's friend's mother (especially in the sequel) is a straight example, gifting young Joy with American Girl Dolls and loudly lamenting how she isn't getting her own grandchildren.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After distancing himself from Cannie, effectively exploiting her personal life for his writing, and never taking responsibility for their child, Bruce loses his "Loving a Larger Woman" column and major source of income. Even better, his contract isn't renewed in favor of giving Cannie the position.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Cannie was hoping her mother would date a cultured version of this trope, one that would wear amber jewelry and hit film festivals.
  • Love Martyr: Cannie is actually very well-aware that she's one of these for Bruce, even after he's made it clear he doesn't want to reconnect. She eventually gets over it.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Considering the protagonist is both a journalist and an aspiring screenwriter
  • Odd Friendship: After failing to get an interview with Maxi Ryder, Cannie meets her in the hotel bathroom and strikes up a friendship with the actress. Of course, only Cannie really thinks of the friendship as odd, at first, due to how she sticks out as a pregnant woman among other, thin, fit celebrities like Maxi.
  • Parents as People: Cannie's Mother is loving to all her kids but even she makes gaffes like mentioning how she had "high hopes" Cannie would be a lesbian and mentioning her other daughter's career failures.
  • Purple Prose: Bruce's "Loving a Larger Woman" column is composed in this manner, to make him sound more sympathetic than he actually is.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dr. K. is considered this, compared to previous/other weight loss instructors, due to his interactions with the attendees and refraining from talking down to them like children and repeating well-worn information. He also ends up becoming one of Cannie's closest allies in the narrative, usually by providing her needed medical advice.
  • Sex for Solace: After his father died, Cannie has sex with Bruce both as an attempt at this and an attempt at rekindling their relationship. This leads to her becoming pregnant.
  • Sex God: Cannie herself is likened as one, hence the title, as the subject of Bruce's articles about "C." However, it becomes more and more unflattering, as time goes on.
  • Shout-Out: The book Heather Has Two Mommies is referenced at one point, when a friend of her mother and Tanya mistakes Cannie for a lesbian single mother.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Cannie develops a close friendship with Dr. K., the organizer of the weight loss program she attends at the beginning of the novel. By the end of the story, she and Dr. K.-Peter, really-, hook up.
  • Take That!: To Ally McBeal and Bridget Jones, where Cannie bemoans being a cliche single woman like those two characters and that her body size is those two put together; Jennifer Weiner even discussed two such examples of why she decided to write a genuinely plus sized character.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Or "Who Names Their Dog, "Nifkin"? Cannie lampshades that by the time she learned about the crude definition of that word, the dog was already too accustomed to the name.
  • You Are Fat: Cannie has grown accustomed to this insult, Bruce even name drops it to her face.