Where is Maple Bay?: The complexities of Suburbia in Diane Josefowicz’s L’Air Du Temps (1985)

There is something fascinating about the American suburb. It is an experiment, at its best, in family dynamics; and at its worst, a reflection of capitalist disillusionment. Diane Josefowicz confronts the dual nature of appearance vs. reality in her confrontational, almost uncomfortable novella, L’Air Du Temps (1985). In the pages we find our narrator, thirteenyear-old Zinnia Zompa, beginning to see the truth of her childhood – illuminated through the dynamics of identity, sexism, and power.


The subtlety of Josefowicz’s writing allows the reader to see, through Zinnia, the unfurling realization that her mother is stifled by the patriarchal control of her father. The shooting of an accountant cuts through the heavy curtain of normalcy in Maple Bay and pokes holes in the Zompa family portrait. Unraveling the mystery of the shooting leads to a realization about human nature’s capacity for evil. This unsettling recognition creeps into the Zompa family, beginning with the marriage. Zinnia confronts the slow disintegration as her mother begins to act strangely, as though she does not recognize the person her mother has become. Josefowicz creates a fascinating and multi-faceted character of the mother; a woman who doesn’t seem far from tearing the “yellow wallpaper” off the walls.

As life in Maple Bay moves forward, its events swirl around Zinnia, whose ambivalence Josefowicz uses to portray the powerful external factors that shape adolescence. There is one scene in particular that showcases the mother-daughter duality of this coming-of-age story. The scene takes place over summer break when Zinnia shares the house with her mother, while her sister is out with friends. There is a moment where Zinnia sees her mother as a woman for the first time, much as Maple Bay, rippled by the murder, sees itself as a community of human beings rather than a two-dimensional suburban play.

Diane Josefowicz’s L’Air Du Temps (1985), is a layered novella about the juxtaposed relationships we have with our family, our communities, and ourselves.

You can pre-order this book, releasing in March, and order Providence-based author Diane Josefowicz’s other books at