Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Quindlen introduces this collection of her recent Op-Ed pieces with Dorothy Thompson's comment that her strength as a writer was from being "altogether female.'' The same is definitely true of Quindlen, who says her husband once asked her, "Could you get up and get me a beer without writing about it?'' No, she can't; even though Quindlen no longer writes the intensely personal "Life in the 30s'' columns (collected in Living Out Loud , Random House, 1988), her new "Public and Private'' columns are just that: discussions of world events as seen through her prism as wife, mother, and woman. This dual perspective has both pleased and infuriated readers, who may question whether a discussion of Jo March as heroine deserves to be part of "all the news that's fit to print.'' Still, Quindlen has offered a welcome human voice to the Times pages, and some of her best columns--her courageous condemnation of her own paper's decision to print the name of the woman in the William Kennedy rape trial, for instance--prove that. Essential for any journalism collection, this will be enjoyed by general readers also.
Quindlen has won a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times op-ed columns, and she is indeed an outstanding commentator. Clear and succinct, she possesses a fail-safe detection system for injustice and a sizzling sense of irony. This invigorating collection brings together 3 years' worth of her biweekly column, "Public and Private." Quindlen's introduction is a tour de force. She discusses the changes newspapers have undergone over the last 50 years, the all-too-limited but nevertheless essential role women have played in keeping newspapers vital, and why gender is such a key aspect of her perspective and consciousness. The columns that follow are divided into topical sections headed by illuminating essays about her growth as a writer. This compilation maps the hot issues and events of the early nineties, from the Anita Hill hearings to high-profile rape trials, the Gulf War, Bill Clinton, the homeless, and AIDS. Abortion is a tough topic for Quindlen, who manages to navigate her beliefs as a feminist, a Catholic, and a joyful mother of three to arrive at a fair, reasonable, and compassionate perspective, a testament to her integrity, intelligence, and ability to remain on the cutting edge of thought and response.