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The Improvised Woman : Single Women Reinventing Single Life - Marcelle Clements

The Improvised Woman

Single Women Reinventing Single Life

Paperback

Published: 1st October 1999
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What is it like being a single woman today? A groundbreaking work of scope, wit, and exceptional empathy, The Improvised Woman answers that complex question, while in the process capturing-and celebrating-the real lives of single American women. Over the past seven years, journalist and essayist Marcelle Clements asked over one hundred women from across the country-young and old, never married, divorced and widowed, childless and single mothers-to talk about being single. How did they get there? Were they sorry or glad? What is the texture of their experience? The heart of this book is the individual voices of the women answering these questions, heard in all their tenacity and humor. "The Improvised Woman doesn't glide over the messy contradictions that accompany being human. . . . Clements gives her interviewees center stage to speak their minds, and appends a series of thoughtful, witty essays."-Newsweek "[Clements] is wise, non-judgmental and patient as she gains the trust of these women, who appear to be as interested in this study as the author is-and as readers, especially other single women, will be."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

What could have shed light on changes in the lives of post-Cosmo girls instead gets mired down by a rather disjointed writing style. When Clements first began researching this book in the early 1990s, there were 38 million single women. Now there are nearly 43 million, making single womanhood one of the most significant social trends as America approaches the millennium. It's a trend that if better understood could dramatically impact our politics, economy, and, most importantly, our view of the sexes. Unfortunately, essayist and novelist Clements (The Dog Is Us, 1985; Rock Me, 1989) doesn't shed as much light on this subject as it deserves. True, Clements, herself a single mother, does interview scads of women on everything from their feelings on sex and creating a home for themselves to their fears of dying alone and their (possible) regrets about not having children. Her method of presenting her information, however, is off-putting and confusing at times. She's at her best in the beginning of each chapter, where she puts forth her basic hypotheses in essay form. It's the following subsections where Clements's work falls apart, as she quotes from various women, using little descriptions that are too cute or, worse, make no sense at all. For example, Abigail, a 37-year-old architect, "is an emotional see-saw adept." Evelyn B.'s introduction states: "Despite the fact that she is a respected mathematician, Evelyn once had all the attributes needed to be a Class-A wife." This is then followed by Evelyn's short comment on how her friends' husbands hit on her after she got divorced. Huh? Though this work is generally frustrating to read, Clements's best work deals fruitfully with evolving new family patterns and her tracing of various historical contexts in which single women have found themselves. (Kirkus Reviews)

Preface to the Paperback Editionp. 9
Introductionp. 11
How I Got From There to Herep. 25
Does It Really Matter Whose Fault It Was?
Envy, Stigma, Contempt, and the Single Womanp. 65
Who Do They Think They're Talking To?
The Endgamep. 101
Breaking Down and Breaking Up
The So-Called New Familyp. 139
Why, Decades Later, Do We Still Think of It as New?
Home At Lastp. 191
Carrying Her Own Trousseau over the Threshold, Alone but Together
The Last Time I Had Sexp. 230
Cybererotica, Vague Dating, and Psychosexual Bugaboos
No Cat Food, Thank Youp. 272
The Poor Old Thing vs. the Ball Buster
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780393319538
ISBN-10: 0393319539
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st October 1999
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.8 x 14.0  x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.4
Edition Number: 1