“The Bell Jar” As Chick Lit?

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Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. What began as a celebration, however, has turned into another occasion for the hand wringing that seems to follow most momentous events in Plath’s posthumous literary life. This time the agitation is over the cover design of the anniversary edition […]

Bill and Hillary: What Made the Power Couple Tick?

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Long before Barack and Michelle, Bill and Hillary were icons of a political era, a couple who needed no last name to be recognized. America watched with zeal as the Clintons battled through controversy and criticism in the 1990s. Many, however, have not been privy to how this couple met and created a union, nor […]

Happy 200th Birthday, Elizabeth Bennet!

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Elizabeth Bennet looks pretty good for a 200-year-old heroine. The protagonist of Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice first found her way into print on January 28, 1813, and she’s been entertaining and inspiring readers across the ages. Even though many worship the book as a love story that serves up the traditional happy ending–heterosexual marriage–feminists can […]

2012′s Best Books of Poetry by Women

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2012 was great year for poetry, and an even better year for poetry by women. Here’s my impossibly non-comprehensive list of the best poetry picks for 2012, in no particular order: I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women, edited by Caroline Bergvall, Laynie Browne, Teresa Carmody and Vanessa Place (Les Figues Press) This anthology […]

It’s Never Too Late to Discover Adrienne Rich

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I tremble to write about the towering figure of Adrienne Rich, the great, revolutionary lesbian poet whose work seemed to single-handedly change the world for the better. Her poems seem engraved in my mind and heart, so that reading her last collection, Later Poems: Selected and New 1971-2012, was like a retrospective of my life […]

A Girl’s Guide to the Chilean Revolution

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What price do the families of revolutionaries pay for their loved one’s idealism, and is it worth it? In her memoir, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary’s Daughter, Carmen Aguirre describes the years from 11 to 21 in which she, along with her Chilean resistance fighting family, lived a life of secrecy, lies and terror […]

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen! Five Feminist Footnotes

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Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, and in her 41-year life produced literary works that have enjoyed mass popularity and acclaim that only increases over time. Two hundred years ago, as she enjoyed her 37th birthday, Austen would have been anticipating the publication of her second novel, Pride and Prejudice, arguably the most […]

Love in the Land of Filipino People Power

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Before the Rain is a romantic memoir set against the backdrop of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines. Author Luisita Lopez Torregrosa is a career-driven newspaper editor in New York who falls in love with a married colleague, Elizabeth. At first, Torregrosa befriends Elizabeth, but the friendship quickly blossoms into a romance. Shortly thereafter, […]

Sex, Drugs and Self-Absorption in Amy Sohn’s “Motherland”

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In Motherland, Amy Sohn offers a satirical, cynical look at life among the latte-sipping, Bugaboo-pushing parents of Brooklyn’s Park Slope. The novel, Sohn’s fourth, gets its title from the name one resident gives to this “land of child rearing, and nurturing, and nonstop care,” but Sohn’s six interwoven narratives reveal parents far more concerned with their […]

Jane Austen in Brooklyn

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I have shlepped myself to Virginia Woolf’s house in Sussex, and wandered the Yorkshire moors in pursuit of the Brontes’ home (calling “Heathcliff! Heathcliff!” when no one was within hearing). But no writer has launched more trips for me than Jane Austen. I have not only visited several of her homes (the one in Lyme […]