THE CONFIDENCE WOMAN by Eve Shelnutt

THE CONFIDENCE WOMAN

26 Women Writers at Work
edited by

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A refreshing variety of attitudes toward the experience of writing as a woman are inventively presented in this collection of essays by contemporary female poets and writers, whose editor is herself a poet and teacher of writing. Not surprisingly, the Plath/Woolf dichotomy figures most prominently in the collective unconscious of these writers--Plath exemplifying the worst-case scenario when she succumbs to the pressures of family vs. writing by following ``the wrong recipe, the martyr's recipe'' and sticking her head instead of a cake into the oven (as Laura Kalpakian says in ``My Life as a Boy''), while Woolf, discussed by several of the writers here, boosts morale with her revolutionary assertion in A Room of One's Own that talented women should appropriate time and solitude for work as matter-of- factly as do men. Though many of these committed artists suffered long periods of undefined dissatisfaction before they discovered their vocation, and nearly all had to face the primal art vs. family conundrum in their careers, their reactions to gender- associated adversity and their present attitudes toward their work differ radically. Nahid Rachlin (``Would I Have Become a Writer Without My Sister?'') focuses on her mysterious early power to transport her younger sibling into imaginary realities, while Pam Durban (``Layers'') describes the pleasure she takes in writing as ``seeing how much time and space a story can cross.'' Kalpakian brashly declares herself a greater literary hero than, say, Norman Mailer, because she struggles against the demands of single- parenthood to eke out time and psychic space for creative work; Louise Gluck suggests in ``The Education of the Poet'' that perhaps the greatest challenge is ``to separate the shallow from the deep, and to choose the deep.'' Passionate, reflective, and playful--an education for the next generation. (For another collection by women on writing, see Janet Sternburg's The Writer on Her Work, p. 37.)

Pub Date: June 24th, 1991
ISBN: 0-929264-91-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Longstreet
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991