I love Susan Jane Gilman's new book Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress! Each chapter consists of a story from different points in the writer's growing up process, from childhood to marriage. I really enjoy her funny and intelligent writing style.
She is unashamed to tell her own most embarassing stories, which made me feel not so weird about my own in a few places. I love the way she approaches life and as a result has grown as a person.
Here are a few selections, so you get an idea of what I'm talking about.
On childhood summer vacation:
To call Silver Lake a resort would be an exaggeration. It was a summer colony founded by Socialists, people either too exhausted from manual labor or too unfamiliar with it to care much about landscaping. Small bungalows had simply been built on plots of land, then left to recede into the woods back around them. Dirt roads led to the eponymous lake, which shimmered, mirrorlike, at the start of each summer before deteriorating into a green porridge of algae by late August.
On teen sex in 1970s New York:
But as far as I and my equally smug, pretentious friends were concerned, virginity was what separated the girls from the women, and we knew which camp we wanted to be in. We scoffed at the idea that "saving yourself" was a matter of morality or willpower. Who was anyone kidding? If you were a virgin, it was simply because no one wanted to fuck you. "She is chaste who is not asked," my friend William liked to say.
"Really? Getting laid meant all that to you?" said a friend of mine later - a friend who had, in fact, come from one of those very God-fearing farm communities I'd imagined beyond the Hudson. "Jeez. For us, sex was just something ot do once we ran out of beer."
And on working for a Senator on Capitol Hill:
Worse yet, as I surveyed the cafeteria, it seemed that nobody else in the entire Longworth House Office Building looked old enough to drink legally. While the top senior staff positions in the House tended to be held by lawyers and middle-aged politicos, most of Capitol Hill was staffed by people who'd graduated from college so recently they still referred to time in terms of "last semester" and "sophmore year." Mainstays of their vocabulary were "awesome," "dickhead," "Beer Pong," and "roommate."
Coincidentally enough, I used to eat at that cafeteria, and what she says is true. I could have been one of the young people she saw as we were both there in 1996 (though the vocabulary part would not have applied to me.)