Archive / April, 2011

When Happiness Is The Goal

Growing up in the 60s, I remember the rhetoric of the so-called Feminist Movement. It was clear to me these second-wave feminists indulged bitter grievances and disdain against what they perceived to be a monolithic, obdurate patriarchy (Public Enemy #1).

When Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, released in 1963, it showed up on the New York Times bestseller list (less than six weeks). I was still in junior high at the time, so Happiness Is a Warm Puppy by Charles M. Schulz (32 weeks on the NYT bestseller list) and Morris L. West’s The Shoes of the Fisherman (44 weeks on the NYT bestseller list) held greater interest for me — and likely for most of the people in my mid-western community.

By the late 60s, Friedan’s book had gained some traction in the Bible-belt mid-west and south. That’s not to say we bought the premise. (I thought it would have been more appropriately titled The FeMENine Mystique. In fact, I’d always intended to write that book, until I realized the title said it all:  discontented women blaming their unhappiness on men, while attempting to supplant and become the men they detest.) Continue Reading →

Dystopian Ran(d)t

My reluctance to cede precious time to Ayn Rand’s writings (to which I alluded in my previous post) softened last year when I tackled her debut novel, We the Living (WTL).

A mere 450 pages, the book depicts the ongoing struggle of men and women in the days after the Russian revolution. Rand selects themes that are altogether too familiar today:  one’s seeming helplessness in the face of encroaching government, the rising tide of cynicism, unexpected betrayals. The main characters face typically human problems, but Rand’s dystopian vision was (for me) the memorable takeaway.

Though an interesting read, WTL is a window into Ayn Rand’s vision — I’ll summarize it with two words:  “no hope.” (Her worldview seems intent to reject the idea of hope — just a silly notion.) Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying only “happy endings” are acceptable to me. Fiction tells the human story — warts and all — meaning happy endings may be rare … but hopeful endings don’t have to be. Continue Reading →

The Journey Begins . . .

After an extended (unexcused) absence, I return to word-smithery today, announcing my coming journey into the world of John Galt. This is a journey I’ve diligently eschewed for nearly 50 years, and I fix the blame squarely on the shoulders of my younger daughter and another dear friend, both of whom recently asked if I had ever read Atlas Shrugged.

Through the years, others have asked me that question. I’ve always been comfortable responding that the wordy tome (almost 1200 pages!) holds no interest for me. Of late, however, a contrary argument waged in my brain:  It’s not fair to comment when you haven’t read the book! So I succumbed at long last — plunking down cash at the Amazon portal. The book (weighing in at 4 pounds, per the shipping label) arrived on Tuesday.

No, I didn’t jump right in; I’m currently reading (usually at bedtime until I nod off) a Cordelia Gray mystery (author is P. D. James). Given my general lack of reading time, even this book — a veritable pygmy tipping the scales under 450 pages — seems a tad long, but that’s a complaint for another day. Continue Reading →

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