Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Hello! This is Chico Cognoscenti, book reviewer for the Theory Corner literary magazine. Today we're going to explore the strange world of the modern woman's novel. The book is "---------------." [name witheld]

It's a Tony Hillerman-type novel about an Anglo woman who's invited by modern Indians to participate in their sweat lodge ceremonies. It's not my thing, but I'd hoped that reading a little bit of a novel written by a woman exclusively for other women would give me some insight into the sex, and I wasn't disappointed.

Let's read a few paragraphs, shall we?

"Sara hurried, untying her hiking boots, pulling off her sweater, her black Levis, unhooking her black lace bra. the door creaked as one of Vera's seven cats, an all black streak of fur with one white paw, slipped in and meowed. Sara threw her thick, green socks in the duffle along with the clothes and slipped on the caftan....

...She saw herself in the mirror with her caftan ballooning around her ankles. Before she had time to disapprove of her big-boned face, her bright blond dyed hair, long and fuzzy, unraveling from the batik scarf she'd wrapped around her head an hour ago, she spied the gleam of her silver earrings and her turquoise choker. Quickly she took them off as well as her watch and Australian opal ring, a gift from her ex-husband, Paul, the year Dan was born. Sara dropped her jewelry in her cosmetic bag, along with her car keys, picked up her bagfull of clothes and rushed out, nearly slamming into a young woman outside the door...."

"She had a perfectly oval face, smooth peach skin, and almond shaped black eyes. Her thick, shining, black hair was twisted up in a gold and feather hair ornament. She wore a tiny orange halter and skintight blue jeans showing her perfect belly button. Sara couldn't help thinking how Deborah Yu (her co-worker) alternated between wearing similar designer tank tops made of silk with Calvin Klein jeans and logging boots...

So here was another newbie....who invariably wore skimpy bathing suits or tight short-shorts and T-strap tops without bras. This girl's firm, smooth body curved seductively...she looked both excited and fearful, her pert breasts bobbing beneath the orange jersey top."

"[This contrasted with Sara, who had] two large towels, one old and frayed to sit on inside the sweat lodge, another thick one for afterward when she would be streaming with sweat, and a pair of shapeless cotton underpants that she didn't mind getting soaked and dirty from sitting on the ground..."

Gee, women certainly seem to be fond of their underwear. It's hard to imagine a man describing his BVDs that way.

Come to think of it, women are always changing their clothes in this book, in the part I read anyway. I guess they really get a kick out of stuff like that. Of course it helps to have a cute, fluffy animal present, or to change in a room with memorable characteristics , like mildew on the floor or cold stones or peeling paint on the walls. I don't think men really care where they change. For us a toxic waste pit is just as suitable as a palace.

If you can trust the author, women are also obsessed with the details of life, and mementos...they LOVE mementos. One of the things I learned from this book is that if you're a bachelor, and you're going out with a girl, be sure to give her a one-of-a-kind gift that she can use to remember the experience...even if she didn't like you. Girls are strange, alien creatures. They don't know how silly it is to be sentimental like that, so we should take the opportunity to make them happy.

So, what's my review? My review is that I'm a guy. It's not meant for me. I'm glad I read a few pages, though.

BTW: To be fair to the author, I did some editing to highlight the clothing descriptions.


Amanda H. said...

What a weird coincidence, last night I was trying on a bunch of clothes my Mom's friend April gave me and her to divvy out for ourselves. I'm pretty much set for khaki pants and formal skirts.
Speaking as a women, yeah, we tend to get wrapped in the details, both in the books we write/read and in life.
Also, I do like memorable gifts. The nondescript clothes get smaller and I give them away but the books and DVDs, I always remember who gave 'em to me and I smile. :)

RooniMan said...

That book has an unnatural fetish for panites.

talkingtj said...

wow! chicks really are weird! i tend to throw that stuff out after awhile..nothing personal..im just a guy..we're built that way.

Anonymous said...

I'm a chick here too, but reading blocks of text entirely about what a girl's wearing is a huge pet peeve for me! I figured that was one of the huge "don'ts" in literature. Description is fine and dandy and I appreciate the details, but I prefer if they're intermittently woven into the rest of the story so it can be absorbed naturally without breaking any flow.

As far as trends in women's fiction, I figure they're more introspective than stuff men read. They focus more on the inner emotions and inner conflicts rather than external forces.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: To be fair to the author, I did a little editing to condense the part about about the clothes. The author was exessive in this regard, but not quite that excessive.

Roonik: Girls like their underwear, no doubt about it. Womens magazines are full of ads for it, and I read that army women complained and got the right to wear more feminine underpants.

A fascinating fact: a modern business woman frequently dresses for three seperate purposes. She wears a business suit to look business-like, but modifies it to be form-fitting and sexy. Underneath the business/sex look is a hidden underwear layer where she dresses in minimalist striptease gear. That's three seperate looks on the same person!

I'm not complaing...actually, i think it's great that they dress sexy. The point I want to make has nothing to do with sex. What I want to remark on is that the fantasy life of many girls (as expressed in clothes) is so rich that three seperate fantasies are commonly given vent to on the same person. It's amazing when you consider that Marie Antoinette only had one (or 1 1/2).

It's as if a man wore a business suit to look efficient and business-like, but had it tailored to emphasize his biceps, abs and cod piece. Underneath the business/sex suit he'd entertain a third fantasy by wearing a football jersey or boxing trunks or army fatigues.

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Anonymous said...

Girls are weird! What do we need them for anywa- oh, wait, nevermind, I remember.

RooniMan said...

Eddie: WOW! Even girls in the amry are panite-striken. I never would of thought it would be THAT universal...

buzz said...

Jack Enyart and I once came up with the ultimate idea for a best selling women's novel: TOO RICH, TOO THIN. It's about an overweight woman who's digestive system ruined by a diet drug sold by a big mega-corp. She sues them and collects a fortune, but since she can only absorb 1% of the nutrients entering her body, she has to travel the world eating huge amounts of food in the hopes of finding something that can keep her from wasting away.

youcraft.org said...

This reminds me of trying to read Nancy Drew as a kid. Nancy would be investigating Watergate or something, and you'd always have a lovely description of what she was wearing and the curtains she was snooping behind.