THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER NAMES Selected Writings of: American Jewish Women by Julia Wolf--Ed. Mazow

THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER NAMES Selected Writings of: American Jewish Women

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Men writing about Jewish women created the stereotypes of the Jewish American Princess and the overbearing Jewish Mother. When Jewish women write about themselves, a different picture emerges. This lively anthology of short stories and autobiographical sketches (most written in the '70s, all since 1920) testifies to a diversity from which stereotypes cannot be drawn. A Jewish woman may be an attentive, affectionate mother (as in Roberta Kalechofsky's ""My Mother's Story""), or she may decide to abort her only child (""The Phantom Child"" by Aviva Cantor); she may be a fastidious housekeeper (""Where Moth and Rust"" by Gertrude Friedberg), or her house may be so filthy that it is an embarrassment to her children (""Papa's Tea"" by Irena Narell). She may be a radical lesbian feminist (Elana Nahman's ""Riverfinger Women"" and ""My Mother Was a Light Housekeeper"" by Thyme S. Seagull). She may care deeply about passing a Jewish identity on to her children (""Making Jews"" by Nancy Datan) or she may object to a mezuzah because it is an ugly thing (Norma Rosen's ""What Must I Say to You""). She may discover, after 15 years of marriage, that she does care about her husband (""Anniversary"" by Elaine Marcus Starkman), or she may be angry at all men for their sexual abuse of women (""First Love"" by Andrea Dworkin). She may defy the objections of her lover and hold a hymenotomy ceremony for their eight-day-old daughter (""A Weave of Women"" by E. M. Broner), or she may not even have a say in the naming of her child (the title story by Nessa Rapoport). Much of the writing in this anthology is, as the editor acknowledges, ""rough-hewn."" But she makes available many unpublished pieces by unknown authors, and brings together works by the likes of Emma Goldman, Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, and Lois Gould, and stories previously printed in disparate magazines (The New Yorker, Lilith, Sinister Wisdom) and books. Together they make the intended point: Jewish women are now naming themselves and the names they choose are not those chosen for them by men.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row