This updated collection offers comforting yet intense views of 16 modern female literary icons from Mary McCarthy to Joyce Carol Oates. This revision of the 1988 collection contains new pieces on Toni Morrison, Susan Sontag, and Maya Angelou, plus many entries familiar to veteran Paris Review readers, like those on Dorothy Parker and Katherine Anne Porter. All together, it makes for a sweet gathering of many of the finest female' writers of the century. Margaret Atwood is reliably erudite in her introduction exploring her subjects' views of what makes a ""woman writer,"" which is epitomized by Mary McCarthy: ""I think they become interested in decor."" The writers themselves are a largely precise, self-effacing bunch, many noting late literary starts and unrelated career intentions. Nadine Gordimer wanted to be a dancer, Joan Didion an actress, Elizabeth Bishop a composer. In addition to digressions on the writing process, there are amusing, endearing asides that draw the writer closer to the reader: Brooklynite Marianne Moore misses the Dodgers (""and I am told that they miss us,"" she adds). They are also women who know themselves pretty well; their insights span more than writing. A good collection to have around on principle, and genuinely inspiring.