Wide-ranging essays about being female and middle-aged, collected by memoirist Barnes (Hungry for the World, 2000, etc.) and novelist Davis (Winter Range, 2000, etc.).
Countering the popular wisdom that a woman’s life ends at 35, this volume insists that your 40s and 50s are fabulous: Your breasts might sag and your thighs might be dimpled, but you’ve finally figured out what your life’s work is, how to enjoy sex and why you’re so angry at your mother. The contributors, ranging from big names like Lauren Slater to lesser-knowns such as Lisa Norris, offer musings on shopping, volunteering and everything in between. Novelist Julia Glass contributes a moving piece about her battle with breast cancer. Pam Houston, in some of her best writing since the cowboy stories that made her famous, chronicles her crush on a bad boy cut from the model she supposedly foreswore 15 years earlier. Lolly Winston offers a cautionary tale about in-vitro fertilization; having blithely put off pregnancy until her late 30s, she writes, “I wish I’d known about infertility when I was younger.” Fed up with inane and annoying questions about her May-December romance with “J.,” 16 years her junior, Karen Karbo sets the record straight once and for all in a hilarious Q&A. (Doesn’t it bum her out that J. has no memory of Watergate? “It’s not easy, especially since all my previous relationships relied heavily on an ongoing speculation about whether Deep Throat was G. Gordon Liddy.”) The weakest here is the editors’ creepily smug introduction: “We are your gender-bended Dante. We know things. Follow us. . . We will show you the way.”
Like a visit with very honest, very smart friends.