In 1956, twenty-something Joe teaches English 202 - Elements of Creative Writing at Smith College and dreams of becoming a successful author, but he has no natural talent.
Of his own writing, Joe says, '"I'm certainly not one of the naturals... I'm the type that sits there slaving away all day and thinking someone will give me credit for effort."' (p. 48)
Nineteen-year-old Joan--Joe's best student--is a natural writer in a male-dominated world.
Elain Mozell, a novelist who had just released a new book, told Joan, '"Don't think you can get their attention... The men who write the reviews, who run the publishing houses, who edit the papers, the magazines, who decide who gets to be taken seriously, who gets put on a pedestal for the rest of their lives... [Y]ou could call it a conspiracy to keep the women's voices hushed and tiny and men's voices loud."' (p. 53)
Can these two dreamers...? Can these two wannabe authors...? Can Joe and Joan help each other achieve their goals.
'I made myself begin to write something. Without censoring it or condemning it for being trivial or narrow or simply poorly constructed.' (p. 46)Some readers aren't intimidated by the number of pages in a book or chapter length. (And if this is you, read Henry Eliot's How to navigate your way through the longest classic books.) I am. I'm most comfortable reading books with around 250 pages and chapters of about 10 pages.
The chapters in this book averaged about 30 pages. If The Wife hadn't been such an engaging read I would have abandoned this book for another. But I needed to learn more about Joe's life. I needed a strategy.
Meg Wolitzer wouldn't give me short chapters. So I made them myself. When I needed a break I looked for a transition in the story and marked the spot with a small arrow. I normally don't like to deface books but made an exception in this case.
Are you guilty of any of these 'crimes against books'?
Next Sunday evening...
I celebrate Canada Reads by reviewing the book I chose.
Are you following me?