DRY YOUR SMILE by Robin Morgan


Email this review


Poet and feminist Morgan (Sisterhood is Global, 1984; The Anatomy of Freedom, 1982) has written a clumsy, self-indulgent first novel about self-discovery. When she stares in the mirror, 40-year-old Julian Travis, former child-star turned famous feminist-activist, doesn't know ""who she is."" Her demanding, ""double-message master"" mother (ironically named Hope) is dying of Parkinson's disease; her 25-year marriage to her once ""feminist,"" now dependent husband is deteriorating; her novel is not getting written. ""I'm going to write my way through Hope and maybe somewhere I'll find Julian,"" she writes. Unfortunately, she does--she writes and writes. Every conversation is recorded, every emotion is turned over and over until it becomes threadbare. The narrative shifts uneasily between first and third person (we are, after all, dealing with an identity crisis here) and, pointlessly, through various metamorphoses--from novelistic prose, to screenplay, to diary, to dream sequence, and back again. Julian does eventually ""find herself"" when she falls in love with a woman who takes photographs of her in which she can see herself as beautiful (Julian is an actress, and narcissism will have its day). But finally, Julian finds true contentment living alone. She bids goodbye (literally) to the spirits of her lost mother, husband, and lover, and accepts a manuscript from the spirit of her childhood self. Perhaps she should have reconsidered. Julian says she will choose another name for her novel's heroine because she doesn't want to write a ""confessional"" book. But she did. And it has much fat on the bone.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday