Olivia Goldsmith passed away last night, after suffering a heart attack while undergoing plastic surgery. According to the Times, her new novel, DUMPING BILLY, will be published posthumously this spring.

"I wrote 'First Wives Club' in true indignation,'' Goldsmith told The Associated Press in a 1996 interview. "It's not right. You choose a woman who bears your young and then you discard her for a younger, taller, thinner, blonder model. We are expected to have jobs now,'' she said. "We are expected to raise the family. We're responsible for the home, and we have to have thin thighs. Nobody can do it.''

It's strange that a woman who could speak this way -- and who could satirize the thinner-blonder-younger mania that possesses certain men of a certain age -- felt the need for plastic surgery in the first place. And I don't want to pin her death on publishers' hunger for the next hot young thing (which, in an odd way, parallels the middle-age-crisis-ridden husbands' search for the next hot young thing in Goldsmith's fiction).

Could have been a peer thing. A New York City thing. A the-whole-country's-obsessed-with-youth-and-beauty-so-why-not-me-too thing? But I just worry that, in the era of Jhumpa Lahiri, and innumerable profiles of Jhumpa Lahiri that never fail to mention her winsome/lissome/exotic/your-adjective-here good looks, and of Nick McDonnell (book deal at eighteen) and Christopher Paolini (book deal at seventeen), there's a rising notion in the world of publishing that you don't necessarily have to be young, or a babe, but jeez, it would sure help you get noticed if you could maybe manage to be one or the other. Which seems like a lot to ask. In my opinion, all writers should ever have to be is talented. Leave the doe eyes and high cheekbones for America's Next Next Top Model.

In happier news, the chick-lit forum last night was fun, and interesting, and I learned a lot -- mostly about the importance of a good, eye-catching cover, and how the genre will be evolving and changing to entertain its readers. You can read recaps here and here. (Hi, Caren!)

Last night also marked my second night away from Lucy -- and the first night I basically snuck out of the house after she'd fallen asleep and managed to be home by the next afternoon. This was a solid twenty-four hours away. I missed her terribly. Except when I fell asleep during my massage. But I felt good about giving the girl some solid daddy-daughter bonding time. When I came home, she was all decked out in her Eagles finery.

Go birds!

Jen