“Sometimes Women Do Like Women”: On Nancy K. Miller’s “My Brilliant Friends”

My review in the Los Angeles Review of Books MY BEST FRIEND died not long ago after a 15-month illness that was relentless in its attack on her body and soul. She and I first met in the eighth grade, and we were soon closer than sisters or lovers. Indeed, we were often mistaken for …

ESSENTIAL FEMINISM: My October column at Bookslut

How did I miss out on the legendary Ellen Willis? I'm embarrassed to admit that before reading this stunning, provocative, erudite, fun, challenging, witty, dire, brave, and above all incisive collection of her journalism and essays, I was unaware of one of the great feminist writers on the politics and culture of our times. Intelligently …

WHAT IS LOST: JANE FRANKLIN AND THE GREAT MAN SYNDROME: My October Column at Bookslut

"I know the most Insignificant creature on Earth may be made some Use of in the Scale of Beings, may Touch some Spring, or Verge to some wheel unpercived by us." --Jane Franklin, In a Letter to her Brother, 1786 "One Half of the World does not know how the other Half lives." --Benjamin Franklin, …

THAT DAMNED MOB OF SCRIBBLING WOMEN: My July Column at Bookslut

In 1855, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a letter to his publisher in response to the overwhelming success of female writers at the time. Novels such as Susan Warner's The Wide, Wide World (1849), Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) and Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time (1854) by Sara Payson Willis Parton …

UNDERSTANDING THE OTHER: ELIF SHAFAK’S HONOR: My January “bombshell” column at Bookslut:

On the front and back covers of the Turkish edition of Elif Shafak's novel İskender (to be published in the U.S. as Honor), the author appears in two different poses dressed as her male protagonist İskender, a handsome, savvy-looking youth with slick hair and a five o'clock shadow wearing a stylish suit. In Shafak's story, …

ÉMILIE DU CHÂTELET: THE LADY WHO WAS A GREAT MAN, My December post at Bookslut

In a 1740 letter to an English friend, Voltaire expressed his regret at being unable to visit him, as he could not live without, even for a short period, "that lady whom I look upon as a great man and as a most solid and respectable friend. She understands Newton; she despises superstition and in …