Good Boys and Dead Girls: And Other Essays

Good Boys and Dead Girls: And Other Essays

by Mary Gordon

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 28 captivating, provocative, iconoclastic essays and reviews (all but the title piece previously published), novelist Gordon ( Final Payments ) describes her pregnancy, visits Marilyn Monroe's grave and gives a feminist reading of American literature from Faulkner to Updike. Growing up Catholic--her mother Irish-Italian, her father a right-wing Jewish intellectual who for a while posed as a Presbyterian--Gordon found salvation in art. She analyzes Irish-American puritanism as ``a desire to hide for self-protection.'' Her cultural criticism ranges widely, from East German novelist Christa Wolf to Mary Cassatt, Edith Wharton, Stevie Smith and Ford Madox Ford, whom she admires greatly. Two sensitive pieces probe the moral and psychological complexities of abortion. With her uncanny powers of observation, Gordon's combative, generous, witty essays embody a clear-eyed vision of what counts in literature and in life. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Gordon's highly acclaimed first novel, Final Payments ( LJ 3/15/78), earned her the appellation ``Catholic writer,'' but her viewpoint is broader. As a novelist she has chosen to approach the topics of female spirituality, self-definition, and creativity. All the essays presented here were previously published (12 in The New York Times Book Review ), with the exception of the title essay. In this essay, which sets the tone of the section ``On Writers and Writing,'' she admonishes mainstream male writers (e.g., Dreiser, Faulkner, Updike) for distorting the role of female characters. Subsequent essays treat us to her unique insight into the craft of writing and illustrate her interest in those who concur with her view of approach to character portrayal (e.g. Woolf, O'Connor, Wharton). The remaining pieces express her stance as a pro-choice feminist, practicing Catholic, artist, and mother. She is not afraid to dispel myths as related to Catholicism, literature, or personal experience. Recommended for public and academic library literature collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/90.--Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.

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