Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Over 40

I've been reading Sarah Manguso's new book of short short stories (or prose poems, but I think they fall mainly into the short short category), Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape. The stories are filled with recurring motifs and sharp insights--they're linked in a braided sort of way. You can talk about them as fulfilling a Joycean imperative toward epiphany, although perhaps that premise is now outdated. Spanning multiple decades of the same life (apparently), the voices in the stories are remarkably apt, believable and recognizable as different ages.

Before I bought the book, I was reading some reviews on Amazon. A negative one stuck with me because it was so insanely stupid and misogynistic: the reviewer says he (?) didn't like Manguso's book (part of a trio of short shorts by different authors, sold as a single volume in slip case) because reading it appeared to him inauthentic because it was like listening to the voice of an unhappy 40-year-old woman.

This, I thought, was indicative of a lot of subtle misogyny in our culture--women who complain are inauthentic, or a 40-year-old woman's voice is not a valid fictional perspective. She's not anywhere near 40 anyway. Just to start with a rebuttal based awkwardly in reality.

Myself today, I received the equivalent of a construction worker whistle--crossing Mass Ave in front of Union Station, a 25+ year old, neatly dressed, reasonably handsome guy purposefully caught my eye and cheerfully said, "give me a call when you get home!" I'll take it. I'm over 40.

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