TOUGH GIRLS DON'T KNIT And Other Tales of Stylish Subversion by Freda Garmaise

TOUGH GIRLS DON'T KNIT And Other Tales of Stylish Subversion

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Underweight essays--some reprinted from Cosmopolitan, Ms., and elsewhere--by a humorist (the 1981 novel Love Bites) who mines both her aggressiveness and her insecurity for laughs. Now the divorced mother of two daughters, Garmaise has worked as a fashion editor and celebrity interviewer (vignettes from this interlude consist mainly of how famous people insulted her clothes). A common theme is the author's pursuit of individuality and the indifference with which the world greets these efforts. In ""A Dyeing Art,"" for instance, she describes her approach to dyeing clothing: ""Usually I'd be seized by a fit lo change something from insipid to dynamic by seven o'clock . . .I was constantly slapdash."" Her commitment to the enterprise varied (""When my husband and I split up, my dyeing output fell, confirming my mother's suspicions that I'd done it all along to drive him away""). The point of all this: ""I wasn't into dyeing for the sake of the vivid colors so much as to find a way to render myself unique."" Other pieces take on subjects such as hand-kissing, free samples in food stores, and dressing-room phobia. Much is facetious (a piece on an Italian holiday, for instance, centers on housework-deprivation) without being terribly funny, so it's hard to know what we're supposed to get from all this. Littered with references to contemporary people and crazes, there's a certain hipness to Garmaise's prose. Fans of her magazine pieces may relish her tough-talking, middle-aged perspective. But as one mundane topic follows another, it becomes clear that the collection sags because there are so few genuine insights to lend backbone to its less-than-hilarious humor.

Pub Date: May 9th, 1990
Publisher: Little, Brown