Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave

Overview

“Makes for seriously sexy (and smart) summer reading.”—Elle
“I behave badly to set myself apart. To test myself. To push myself. To prove something. To shock someone. ... I behave badly because I can.” That’s how Ellen Sussman describes her mischievous endeavors. In this anthology of personal essays, she’s invited twenty-five other bad girl writers to share their stories. Ann Hood lies; Mary Roach confesses. Erica Jong, the original bad girl, challenges her own claim to that fame. Caroline Leavitt marries and ...

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Overview

“Makes for seriously sexy (and smart) summer reading.”—Elle
“I behave badly to set myself apart. To test myself. To push myself. To prove something. To shock someone. ... I behave badly because I can.” That’s how Ellen Sussman describes her mischievous endeavors. In this anthology of personal essays, she’s invited twenty-five other bad girl writers to share their stories. Ann Hood lies; Mary Roach confesses. Erica Jong, the original bad girl, challenges her own claim to that fame. Caroline Leavitt marries and cheats. These pages bristle with danger. The writers dig deep—bad behavior lies in their souls. And what they bring to the surface reveals telling truths about our psyches and our society.

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Editorial Reviews

Lynn Harris
Fortunately, the exploits in this anthology do reach beyond the type of just-because badness better suited to the oral tradition (of brunch) than to the printed page. And refreshingly, Sussman makes no pat pronouncements about "what it means" when women, bred for compliance, misbehave. "Is bad behavior a fall from grace or a triumph?" she asks. "The answer is yes."
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Grasping-at-straws anthology compiled by California novelist Sussman (On a Night Like This, 2004). The problem with asking your contributors to turn "bad" behavior into a good story is that everybody has a different idea of what constitutes bad. Fortunately for Sussman, she managed to recruit 26 fine contemporary writers, from Ann Hood and Susan Straight to Daphne Merkin and Roxana Robinson. Most of them come through with substantive thoughts on the angel/whore dichotomy, though their first-person essays range wildly in tone, from poet Kim Addonizio's sexual confessionals about a stoned one-night-stand at a writer's conference ("Plan D") to Elizabeth Benedict's prissy contrast between her expressive self and her rigidly buttoned-up stepdaughter ("The Thrill of a Well-Placed ‘Fuck' "). Laura Lipmann takes the middle road in "Laura the Pest," which chronicles a difficult time in her life when coworkers and friends kept their distance because "you could smell failure on me." Several stories of the author's fall from grace involve a grade-school crisis, as in Elizabeth Rosner's account of her early determination never to stop asking questions ("Everything I Know about Being Bad I Learned in Hebrew School") to Susan Cheever's girlish 1959 misdemeanors at Masters School ("Alma Mater") and Madeleine Blais's discovery of "occasions of sin" at the Ursuline Academy ("The Beard"). In the hilarious "Author Questionnaire," Kaui Hart Hemmings fantasizes about defending her imaginary book How to Party with an Infant to academic colleagues. M.J. Rose's idea of being bad simply constitutes overhearing a salacious confession ("The Thrill of the Spill"). Two veteran authors do best of all here: JoyceMaynard rehashes her painful teenage affair with J.D. Salinger in "A Good Girl Goes Bad," and Erica Jong argues that badness is still defined by men in "My Dirty Secret."First-rate execution by top-notch talent saves a shaky premise.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393331950
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 992,841
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Sussman is the author of the novel On a Night Like This. She has two daughters and lives with her husband in Los Altos Hills, California. She, too, is a bad girl.

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