International Women’s Day, 2013

Books by Women Writers

Today is International Women’s Day. A few of the books pictured above go back to high school days and were given me by my two older sisters (I grew up in a family of six girls). “The River,” by Rumer Godden, was required reading at SBHS; the copy in the stack has my sister Shirley’s name in the inside cover. Shirley passed away a few years ago.

Susan and I lived near the beach in some courtyard apartments across from the writer Sylvia Wilkinson. I was in my first two years of teaching, in Venice. I showed Sylvia something I had written, and she said to Susan, “Tell Joe not to quit his day job.” But I never gave up on the idea of the novel and reading and literature and the whole idea of being a writer, whatever that was to come to mean. I got a corporate job, cementing the idea of a day job, but I don’t think one’s occupation necessarily prevents one from writing. What is writing? In any case, 30 years later I finally did quit my day job and finished the novel, having reworked it several times in different formats over the years. Interested readers can find a link to excerpts in the sidebar.

Sylvia had given us a copy of her 1977 novel, “Shadow of the Mountain,” thanking Susan for proofreading and the title. If I were to suggest books by women for International Women’s Day, I might suggest any of Sylvia’s books (I think she may have thought “Cale” was her best), and also “The Solitary Self,” by Mary Midgley. Both Sylvia and Mary warrant wider reading.

Sylvia Wilkinson, Mary Midgley

7 thoughts on “International Women’s Day, 2013

  1. Thanks for the video of Mary Midgley, and the mentioning of Rumer Godden. I remember seeing the Renoir film of River. The first woman authors I read in English were Harper Lee and Doris Lessing – got nearly all her books.

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    • Isn’t Mary amazing? 91 years old and clear as a bell sounding across water.

      Here’s something else re Mary I put up.

      Sheila Heti did an interview with Mary for The Believer back in June, 2010. A longer version is on Sheila’s blog.

      Thanks for reminding me of the Renoir film, which I’ve never seen. I’m going to check for it down at Movie Madness today. I have not seen very many films. We never seem to get out to the movies anymore. Watched a bit of the Oscars this year – had not seen any of the movies that were up. Not the first year that’s happened, not that the Oscars has anything to do with film.

      Have you any sun there? Woke up this morning to a blissful abyss of blue sky and all the molecules dancing in the sunlight!

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      • … a blissful abyss of blue sky and all the molecules dancing in the sunlight! … Oh I wished. Had ONE such day last week. Back to blissful grey.
        Great interview of Mary. Also made my acquaintance with the writings of Sheila Heti. Quirky. Thanks for that too.

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  2. Hi Joe and Susan. Did I really say that? That was pretty nasty of me. Glad you wrote the book anyway. Sylvia Wilkinson and John Morton

    P.S. We both have books out now: John’s is Inside Shelby-American, a non-fiction account of his early years in racing at Carroll Shelby’s in Venice. Mine is a novel called Big Cactus.

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    • Wow! Hi, Sylvia, and thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Susan will be happy to hear from you. Hello, to John! (It wasn’t nasty at all, just honest, and appropriate, because we all need help finding a good fit, if not the right fit.) Anyway, no worries. I’ve ordered John’s book as well as “Big Cactus.” I like the pickup truck on the cover. So cool to hear from you and hear that you both have books out! Joe

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