Let's hear it for the boys.
24 January 2011
I'm not going to be able to finish Amy Dickinson's memoir The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them.
There's nothing wrong with it, and I didn't pick it up with any strong desire to read it in the first place. (For some reason, it popped up in my catalog search for cookbooks, and I liked the cover, so I thought, okay, I'll try it.) It's Dickinson's story of how, after her separation and divorce from her husband, she returned with her daughter Emily to her hometown of Freeville, New York (population 458). Raising a daughter as a single mother was not without precedent in her family--her mother and sisters shared the experiences of divorce and single parenting--but Dickinson recounts how they all supported one another, and how their community supported them.
Dickinson may be better known to you as the author of the advice column "Ask Amy," and the book reads just like her advice columns do. It's pleasant enough stuff, but pretty vanilla, even when she's discussing the disintegration of her marriage:
"He had always been extraordinarily nice to me, so I jumped through hoops of decreasing circumference trying to get him to be nice again. But then he picked a fight with me about Benazir Bhutto--who in the late 1980s was Pakistan's newly elected prime minister--and I knew that we had turned a corner and wandered into the volatile Middle East of our marriage. Granted, in general I think that looking to Pakistan for common ground in a relationship is probably a sign it is ending. The State Department should be called. Diplomats should get involved." (p. 16.)
All right, well, that's not unfunny. But still. Memoirs and novels reveling in women and girl power just tend not to do much for me. It comes down to this: I like guys. Granted, when you're in the kitchen, you usually want a girl there with you.* But otherwise? Books without the proper number of female AND male characters are boring to me.
*The other day Mr. CR was looking for one of our two juice pitchers in one of our four cupboards, and after rooting about for a bit, he came to ask me where it was. Honestly. I had to tell this college-educated man that the cupboard is, in fact, a FINITE space (not Narnia), and if he just applied himself, he could find the pitcher by himself. He eventually did. A giant leap for mankind, indeed.