This week we spotlighted talented women on Storyboard — be they writers, performers or proto-feminists of the 18th century. I love this quote from Adrian LaBlanc, one of the women included in “The Stories We Tell” anthology below: “I won’t be here to witness it, but won’t it be a fine day when anthology specifically focused on women journalists won’t make any sense?” (It’s her certainty that she won’t be here to witness it that stays with me.)
Patsy Sims and “The Stories We Tell: Classic True Tales by America’s Greatest Women Journalists.” It’s about time. The women of longform journalism finally get their due in an anthology, the newly published “The Stories We Tell: Classic Tales by America’s Greatest Women Journalists.” The anthology is a feast of great writing by 20 journalists at the top of their game, including the late Lillian Ross, Madeleine Blais, Gerri Hirshey, Susan Orlean and Jill Lepore. And now the biggest question is, why did it take so long? “It is both incredible and a shame that it has taken so long for the literary journalism by American women to be showcased in an anthology,” says the anthology’s editor, Patsy Sims. “The fact is, women have long played a key role in shaping the genre.”
The soundtrack: “Girls It Ain’t Easy,” by Dusty Springfield. “Sometimes the going gets a little tough/seems like my best ain’t good enough.” Dusty’s voice + those horns = bliss. The album the song is on, “Dusty in London,” can’t quite compare to the desert-island-disc “Dusty in Memphis,” but it’s still wonderful. Feeling down? Put on “Love Power.”
One Great Sentence
“Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.”
Mary Wollstonecraft, “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” 1792. Read why we think it’s great.
Holly Gleason and “Woman Walk the Line: How the Women of Country Music Changed Our Lives.” We all know music has the power to change us. Holly Gleason decided to take that idea and run with it – with a feminist twist. Gleason asked a wide-ranging group of women to write an essay about the female performer who changed her life. And she chose a genre that may not scream “I am woman, hear me roar”: country music. “It seemed like the most subversive way to do it,” Gleason says. “Use country music to discuss female empowerment, coming of age or into one’s own, finding your way. But more importantly, to do it on your own power!”
The soundtrack: “The Pill,” by Loretta Lynn. One of the writers in the anthology points out how groundbreaking this was, and she’s right. “Miniskirts, hot pants and a few little fancy frills/Yeah I’m makin’ up for all those years/Since I’ve got the pill.”
What I’m reading online: “Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies,” by Ronan Farrow. Another tremendous story by the New Yorker writer about the Weinstein scandal. In this one, he reveals the lengths that the producer went to in trying to ferret out details from his alleged victims. One woman allegedly assigned to the actress Rose McGowan pretended to be a women’s rights activist, but in reality was a former Israel Defense Forces officer. “On October 10th, the day The New Yorker published my story about Weinstein, Filip reached out to McGowan in an e-mail,” he writes. “’Hi Love,’ she wrote. ‘How are you feeling? . . . Just wanted to tell you how brave I think you are.’ She signed off with an ‘xx.'”
“Promethea Unbound,” by Mike Mariani. This piece for The Atavist starts off as your usual child prodigy story: She reads “Antigone” before she’s 5, questions physicists about particle colliders. Even with the alarm bells ringing quietly in the first chapter, you still are shocked by the story of obsession, paranoia and a fatal encounter, all set in Montana. I loved this line, which was almost a throwaway one: “I found Montana to be like a deep canyon you can’t see until you’re just a few feet in front of it. If you’re not careful, it can swallow you up.”
What’s on my bedside table: “Autumn,” by Ali Smith. I’m a big fan of this Scottish writer; her creativity astounds. (Her last book, “How to Be Both,” consisted of two parts, one set in the distant past and one in the present. It was a spin of the roulette wheel whether you bought the version that started with the past, or the present. I’m glad mine started with the latter.) This, too, is two stories, but they come together, weaving into one narrative that’s both angry and hopeful in the wake of Britain’s Brexit vote. I can’t wait for the next installment of her “seasonal” series, “Winter.” (I understand Donald Trump figures heavily in it.)
What’s on my turntable: “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,” by Tammy Wynette. (The album isn’t on Spotify, so this is the link to the title song.) Your good girl’s gonna go bad/I’m gonna be the swinginest swinger you’ve ever had/If you like ’em painted up, powdered up/Then you oughta be glad/’Cause your good girl’s gonna go bad.” A song that brings to mind the final scene of “Grease,” which has always made me a bit queasy. Hey, how about they accept the other for what they are? But gotta love the words “swinginest swinger.”
If you want to chat about storytelling (or music), I’m Storyboard editor Kari Howard, and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can find me at @karihow on Twitter.