The Queen of Pep

Lenora Mattingly Weber

Once upon a time I was attempting to summarize my books for a friend of my brother’s while my niece and the friend’s two kids ran around my brother’s living room wreaking havoc.

In the midst of my long-winded dissertation on lesbian pulp fiction, its historical context, my attempts to reimagine it, etc, my brother looked up from his iPhone and interrupted. Continue reading

The Real Find

You’ve gone away for the weekend. You’re a tourist, on vacation. You’re wandering around, eating fudge and salt-water taffy, looking at the historic buildings, trying to decide if the shape in the water is a seal or a rock. When you get back to your hotel, you look up the local used bookstore. “Let’s stop by, before we go kayaking,” you might say to your companion. This is why: Continue reading

Shutterbugs: Katie and Her Camera and Sharon James, Freelance Photographer

Katie And Her Camera (1955, Lois Hobart)

The Story: Dad has died and Katie has to get a job in order to finish college (a weak or absent patriarch is always a good excuse for a career). Inexperienced Katie applies for a part-time job as assistant to photographer Rolfe Esperson, who not only hires her but proceeds to teach her everything he knows, loans her his equipment, and pays her to boot. At one point he says she looks worn out and gives her a hundred dollars with instructions to go on Continue reading

The Wonderful World of Work

Maureen Corrigan, in her review of recent novels about the unemployed, started by saying that historically “the workaday world…has been considered too mundane to be of much interest.”  Poor Maureen–another otherwise well-read person completely unaware of the world of Career Girl books. I’m talking about books like Betty Loring, Illustrator (1948), Patti Lewis, Home Economist (1956), and A Flair for People (1955–the heroine is a personnel director). Despite growing up with the Beany Malone books (which she analyzes in her memoir Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading, Maureen somehow missed out on books like Date With A Career (1958), and Phoebe’s First Campaign (1963). Continue reading

Dating Advice

Once you learn what it is about yourself that needs improving, there's no longer any reason to feel helpless or hopeless.

I watched The Bachelor a few days ago, probably for the last time. It turns out my enjoyment of the premiere episode had more to do with being on vacation and seeing old friends than the show’s intrinsic qualities; and like the pleasure of watching HGTV every night in the hotel room, is not to be recaptured now that I’m back in my normal surroundings. On Monday night after the host advised the assembled women to make the most of whatever fleeting moments of contact they had with the bachelor, I found myself asking, “How could you ever hope to have even a semi-normal interaction in these circumstances?” — a question which I realize is very much beside the point. Continue reading