By Sarah Seltzer
Friday, July 2, 2010
Female writers from Isabel Allende to Laura Bush offer every type of book for every type of summer reading list. Meanwhile a man--Steig Larsson--has produced the most talked-about female character in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy.
Young blogger and writer Emily Gould has released a collection of essays, "And the Heart Says Whatever," about coming-of-age in New York City in a privacy-free era where life is explicitly detailed on the Internet.
This spring saw the publication of a number of high-profile women's memoirs. Perhaps the most anticipated of these was from Laura Bush, the former first lady, whose "Spoken From the Heart" details secretive parts of her life withheld during her years in the White House. She writes about the agony she felt after causing a fatal car crash in high school and her own personal views on abortion and gay marriage, which are different from her conservative husband's--she believes both should not be used as "wedge issues" to divide the public and seems to suggest that both should be legal.
Two other celebrity memoirs come from pioneering women in rock. Pat Benatar, who dominated the top-hit charts in the 1980s offers "Between a Heart and a Rock Place." Cherie Currie of the all-girl rock band "The Runaways" brings us "Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway."
Comediennes also produced memoirs this spring. Sarah Silverman, the raw and bawdy stand-up comedian and actress, published a humorous but heartfelt memoir of her childhood and career, "The Bedwetter." "I Know I Am, But What Are You?" is a similar offering from Samantha Bee, the deadpan correspondent for "The Daily Show" who writes about growing up in Canada in tragicomic circumstances.
"Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature" by Emma Donoghue is a work of literary criticism that explores same-sex friendship, reliance and romance throughout literary history.
"Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds," by Lyndall Gordon, is a new biographical look at the life of the secluded New England poet. Gordon explores a number of feuds and love interests that infuse the poet's life with scandal and seduction. Jerome Charyn has also focused on Dickinson but in a fictional way in "The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson," published in February.
Another book inspired by a U.S. female literary giant comes from Kelly O'Connor McNees. "The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott" imagines an entirely fictional love affair for the flinty radical who gave the world "Little Women."
A less bosom-heaving look at an author's life and work, "The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker," is an anthology of conversations and interviews between Walker and, among others, Gloria Steinem, Paula Giddings, Howard Zinn and journalist Amy Goodman. The pieces span her career and development as a thinker and author.
"Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists" is an anthology of essays edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan. It describes young women's journeys into identifying with the F-word, or variants thereof, such as "womanism."
Amanda Marcotte's new book, "Get Opinionated: A Progressive's Guide to Finding Your Voice (and Taking a Little Action)" is a witty series of tips and musings to help readers spread their beliefs and sail through touchy arguments and topics. Susan J. Douglas' "Enlightened Sexism" describes the way modern-day cultural misogyny cloaks itself in the language of feminism. Deborah Rhode's new book, "The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law," decries the way women's appearances still count against them in society.
A particularly famous feminist got a new translation this year--the first new edition of Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" was printed in English since its original, abridged translation.
Heidi Schnakenberg, an occasional commentator for Women's eNews, comes out with "Kid Carolina: R.J. Reynolds Jr., A Tobacco Fortune, and the Mysterious Death of a Southern Icon," an investigative biography with a touch of Southern gothic, exploring the life and death of a tobacco heir.
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Sarah Seltzer is a freelance writer in New York City. Her work is available at www.sarahmseltzer.com.
By Sarah Seltzer
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