Liz and Gianna are two of a dying breed--traveling sales reps for book publishers--who sell books in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and the Deep South. Since we're constantly on the road hawking books, we must find ways to amuse ourselves. So here we've decided to share our anecdotes, adventures, favorite books, and efforts in making the world (or at least these few states) a more literate place to inhabit.
It's no secret that generally speaking, women’s writing
doesn’t get reviewed nearly as much as male writers.The website VIDA has an interesting set of images you might want to look through. Although we haven’t officially looked at the
male vs. female reviews on our blog, I would bet that we tilt toward more
female reviews simply because I write about Gail Caldwell every three days. It
would be interesting to see how Liz and I are fairing in comparison to say, The Paris Review. That’s right, we are
going up against The Paris Review!
What we do, though, is consciously try to encourage people to
read more women authors, and certainly seek out under appreciated women writers.That’s why The Vintage Book of American Women Writers, edited by Elaine Showalter, is one of my favorite books from the past few years. More than just another
anthology, it’s a treasure trove of celebrated writers such as Zora Neale
Hurston, Joyce Carol Oates, Flannery O’Connor, Phillis Wheatley, and Maxine
Hong Kingston. But that’s not the reason to buy this book, and it’s certainly
not the reason you will pick it up time and time again. It’s the lesser-known
writers that Showalter has included that made me fall in love with this book.
Included in the anthology is Mary Rowlandson (1637-1711), who
wrote the novel Charlotte Temple, a bestseller for about twenty years (until Uncle Tom’s Cabin knocked her out of the
top spot); she was unknown to me before I read this book. Feminist sisters Alice and Phoebe Cary often wrote and published poetry together, and what a find
for me! Phoebe wrote feminist versions of classic poetry from the likes of
Shakespeare and Longfellow; what nerve! She and her sister died only months
apart in 1871. Frances Miriam Berry Whitcher was the first American female
humorist. She was very good at pissing off New Yorkers and her piece called “The
Widow Essays Poetry” is worth the price of this book.
Mary Wilkins Freeman
We get caught up waiting for the next blockbuster memoir or
new big novel from our favorite authors. I am completely guilty of it.
Meanwhile, the true joy of reading is discovering new writers, finding out who
we’ve missed. You won’t just find a new
story, poem, or essay from a woman you’ve never heard of in here, you will put
the book down, go to your computer and try to learn everything possible about
fascinating women like Fanny Fern and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. I promise.