Joan Curbow, Booklist


“It’s all here, just as it should be: birth, death, sex, longing, regret, anger, love.”


Editor Aldrich (Girl Rearing, 1998) has collected essays that span the personal and political by 30 contemporary women, Roxane Gay, Cheryl Strayed, Jaquira Diaz, and Eula Biss among them. The book takes advantage of the essay format by encompassing a wide range of styles. Some essays take the form of memoir, a few others are epistles, yet another realizes itself as a list, and one essay borrows from the graphic genre. A few essays experiment with form and piece together streams of consciousness; one essay
strings together headlines that focus on violence to women. This collection offers something for every reader, whether one seeks the calm of a contemplative voice or the catharsis of anger. Lengths of essays vary widely, too: one writer offers a terse yet poetic recollection of childhood, horror, and love in the space of a page and a half. Another writer unravels a lengthy and wide-ranging exploration of pain and women’s relationship to it. It’s all here, just as it should be: birth, death, sex, longing, regret, anger, love.

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