Cover image for Welcome to my planet : where English is sometimes spoken
Welcome to my planet : where English is sometimes spoken
Olson, Shannon.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2000.
Physical Description:
vii, 287 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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"You have such trouble living in the moment," says The Counselor, sighing, I believe she's losing patience with me. I have been here for four, going on five years now, clutching the small throw pillows in her office against my stomach as if they were life preservers."Have you looked around at the moment?" I say, "I have a huge credit card bill, I'm thirty and single.""It sounds like a wonderful place to begin," she says."To be an adult. To earn your keep. Thirty is not as old as you're making it sound."Welcome To My Planet is a novel that happens at the most neurotic point in one's life--when not dating is as acceptable a social form as dating; when early-morning NPR, infomercials, and VISA provide more thrill and companionship than grad school or one's day-job colleagues, and the daily struggle to get out of bed and interact with higher life forms than the plants or the TV remote takes on near-cosmic significance. Welcome to a center of the universe that's not London or New York, but Minneapolis, USA, where life just isn't The Love Boat for thirty-one year old Shannon, our tongue-in-cheek heroine. Between trips to Target and her parent's house to do laundry, Shannon visits a therapist called The Counselor and tries to get her life together. In a voice that's funny and as raw as your sister's bachelorette party, Shannon Olson brings an up-front perspective on issues of family and love, therapy and debt, and the occasional comforts of a few drinks. She speaks directly to young and not-so-young women who know that Mom's a great place to visit when you can't quite find yourself.

Author Notes

Shannon Olson, author of Welcome to My Planet , has taught creative writing and literature at the University of Minnesota.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Two young first novelists hit the scene with novels about young women trying to negotiate parents, friends, and boyfriends while searching for direction in their lives. Maxted's heroine is Helen Bradshaw, who is already trying to cope with a thankless job and a louse of a boyfriend when her father dies of a heart attack. In the aftermath, Helen has to deal with her dramatically distraught mother and her unbelievably stoic grandmother, as well as her own complicated feelings about her father. Meanwhile, the rest of her life is spinning out of control. After she dumps her boyfriend, she sleeps with her shallow friend, Marcus, who avoids her after the incident. But a minor car accident introduces her to Tom, a handsome vet, who just might be the Mr. Right she's been looking for. Although the serious issues in the book are a bit glossed over, Maxted's novel is good comic fun. Olson's novel focuses on a woman also named Shannon Olson, who is working on an MFA at the University of Minnesota (just as the author did). Readers question from the outset how much of the novel is autobiographical and how much is fiction; and although this does hamper the novel in some places, Olson is a talented writer and can make this dual nature work. The novel takes Shannon from her pre-grad-school days, when, feeling lost, she breaks up with her boyfriend and moves back home with her parents. She sees her mother through surgery for a benign tumor, and she battles depression with the help of The Counselor, who tries to help her put her life in perspective. The novel follows her through grad school, her relationship with a fellow grad student named Michael, and her sister's wedding. The plot is slow in some places but Olson's prose is so strong and compelling that the novel ends up being very satisfying. --Kristine Huntley

Publisher's Weekly Review

The protagonist of this excellent debut novel has much in common with its author: they share the same name, they're both in their early 30s, live in Minnesota and have a mother named Flo. In funny, self-conscious prose, Olson chronicles her heroine's life between ages 25 and 30. Shannon goes to therapy, frets about her credit card debt and her boyfriend Michael's obsessive need to organize his time, slogs away at an unsatisfying job at a software company and eventually decides to move back into her parents' home. The neurotic middle child between her (married) brother and her (married) sister, Shannon chats endearingly and self-deprecatingly about her anxieties and her complicated relationship with Flo. Having grown up watching Love Boat on TV, Shannon admits she's absorbed the fantasy of old-fashioned, tidy love: "All my life, for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be married. I'm not sure why. I guess I just thought that that's when my life would start." But Shannon never quite faces her feelings. She's more likely to produce a witty pun than tell her mother she loves her. Even when Flo is hospitalized for surgery, Shannon copes with the crisis with humor, a strategy she's learned from her wisecracking mom. Getting older, feeling aimless, Shannon enrolls in grad school, cuts her hours at work and moves in with Michael. When their affair hits troubled waters, she finally turns to Flo for advice and learns that Flo views her own marriage as a failure. Olson's premise is hardly original in a market flooded with sassy young women's fiction, but she has a realistic voice readers can relate to, and, unlike others in the genre, she isn't trying to be edgy and hip. The book meanders but is honest and compelling; the ordinary woman's search for self is grounded sturdily in the resilient, charming mother/daughter relationship at the novel's heart. Agent, Gloria Loomis. 10-city author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Think Bridget Jones's Diary and Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing all rolled into one. In Olson's debut, 31-year-old Shannon (any resemblance to the author?) can't cope and heads home to Mom. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.