Women Writers Talking

Women Writers Talking

Women Writers Talking

Women Writers Talking


Interviews by critics and scholars with fifteen of today's foremost women writers, including Maya Angelou, A S Byatt, Luce Irigaray, Erica Jong, Jeanne Moreau, and Grace Paley.


May Sarton once remarked that, for her, heaven was Bloomsbury. There is no equivalent now: a pocket or so of writers in New York's Greenwich Village or London's Hampstead, but too many are absent from each for heaven to be declared. There is no gathering to which the women interviewed here would come, leaving apartments in Paris, houses in Salisbury, or cottages in Maine. There is no place to meet them all, as May Sarton met Elizabeth Bowen and Virginia Woolf together over tea. This book of interviews is a surrogate, an effort to create Bloomsbury in pieces which the reader must fit together.

I think of Women Writers Talking as a party. Some of the invited guests, like June Jordan and Toni Cade Bambara, could or would not come; others brought friends. It is a noisy party, where conversations are between couples and overhearing is difficult. As in any gathering, some of the guests do not care for others and wonder why they have been invited; some are happy to know old friends are in the room.

The gathering is mixed. Grace Paley has come informally, A. S. Byatt formally. It is international and styles differ with nations. The British are, on the whole, more reticent, the Americans more outspoken, the French exist among their own excited ideas.

In conversation the women reveal distinctions beyond nationality. Some of them have succeeded flamboyantly in the commercial world —Erica Jong and Marilyn French, for example—where others, like Joan Barton, have succeeded only in their own way. With fame has come for some the constant calls for interviews, and the celebrated have learned to speak easily, even glibly, of the craft of writing and the struggle of women; they have said it all before many times. Yet in each repetition there is a freshness, a new word that hints at new ideas or a pause that reveals what has not so far been told. Other women have rarely been . . .

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