Monday, June 06, 2005

"Frogs" Is Good

I've read the first few chapters of "You Have To Kiss A Lot of Frogs" and it's good! It's not just this "I can't get a husband" kind of whining nonsense. It's more like, "Why am I in my 40's and still doing the same stupid things with my work and my love life that I did in my 20's?" It's a midlife crisis told with wit and warmth, and not hackneyed at all.

In describing 15 years in the life of her protagonist Karrie Kline, Laurie Graff has a deadly accurate ear for dialogue and keen powers of observation. This comes out in a scene where Karrie is visiting her mother and stepfather in the Catskills and they talk about her single state more in what they don't say than in what they say. When Karrie's stepfather follows her into the kitchen and tells her, "You'll forget all about the City and the acting," he could have been speaking for the thousands of well-meaning relatives and friends who have ever told independent-minded women inadvertently, "You'll forget all about this 'being yourself' crap when the right man comes along."

As if whatever you've spent the first 30 years of your life building was cute and all, but the day after your thirtieth birthday you're supposed to put it all aside and the only thing it's important to be is married. As if maintaining your individuality wasn't something you have to do the rest of your life, and keeping your identity isn't even more crucial after you've merged.

And at the same time, you can't just shrug these comments off, because there's always this voice that tells you deep down inside that there must be something weird about you if you haven't successfully merged. And this voice is still a part of you even after you merge.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this, and it's come to my attention that when I dismiss something as "chick lit" in my Geek Girl, "Pink Makes Me Puke" kind of way, I'm perpetuating the kind of thinking that says that so-called Women's Issues are in some way inferior to "Regular" issues. Or the corollary: That they're better in a kind of "Noble Savage" way ("You ladies are so in touch with your feelings!").

The "Girl Ghettoes" of Women's Night at New York City comedy clubs gave many comediennes some valuable development opportunities, but there was always this stigma attached of being not funny enough to be on in the "regular" shows. Meanwhile, the guys at the bottom of the comedy club food chain were resentful that a girl with a crappy act could at least get a lousy spot on Women's Night.

So you took advantage of the opportunity and meanwhile, worked on your act until you were just good, with no qualifier. And then made sure people knew you were good. So if Red Dress Ink is the Women's Night of fiction, then (Kelly Ripa and Fran Drescher and) I say, this book is just good.

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