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Single State of the Union: Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness Paperback – February 26, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Most popular media portrayals depict single women in one of two states: single-and-loving-it or single-and-desperate. Single women strike back in this compilation of essays, edited by author and freelance writer Mapes (How to Date in a Post-Dating World), in which they discuss with candor and courage their own experiences outside of the domestic partnership paradigm. Unfortunately, for every poignant, well-written highlight-such as Chelsea Handler's "Thunder," Sasha Cagen's "How I Dodged a Reality Show Bullet" and Kay Trimberger's "Can a Single Woman Really Be Happy Without a Soulmate?"-there are two or three pieces that grate, either through self-indulgence or sheer volume. In one particularly edit-worthy tale, a sex-columnist debates the merits of her single life versus her married life in a manner not unlike a rambling "confessional" on braindead reality series The Real World: unstoppable and irrelevant. The myriad states of singularity-secure-in-your-fluxing, single-for-life, widower, etc.-that the book brings to light are interesting but, in these essays, fail to intrigue; overall, the collection reads more like excerpts from a support group meeting than a collection of professional work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The empty side of the bed does not fart in its sleep. -- Laurie Notaro
It's not the concept of marriage I have a problem with. I'd like to get married, too. A couple times. It's the actual wedding that pisses me off." -- Chelsea Handler
I was happy being single, but not happy alone. I needed someone to love and I was ready. But not ready enough for another dog. To his credit, Jim later said. "I knew my days were numbered when you got the rat." -- Rachel Toor
In a world where everyone was in a rush to get the picket fence and 2.673 kids, I stood out a like an unmown, dandelion-riddled lawn with a rusted-out muscle car on cinderblocks smack dab in the middle. Because I've never gotten engaged or hitched within three weeks of meeting someone, friends called me immature, commitment-phobic, a late bloomer, a player, a childhood-divorce casualty, or sometimes "a total freaking guy." -- Michelle Goodman
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Many of the essays, especially those in the first half of the book, cover ground that is by now familiar--and perhaps a bit tired--to anyone who's read Bridget Jones's Diary or watched Sex and the City--invasive questions from pushy but well-meaning friends and family, comically bad dates, crises of confidence and a final realization that being single is a valid, valuable lifestyle -- at least until Mr. Right comes along. Most of the writers claim to be happy and satisfied with their (often by choice) singleness, but a number of the pieces are written with such an apologetic or defensive tone that I have to wonder: If women still have to work so hard to justify their choices, has our culture really changed very much in the last forty years? Or is it perhaps finally time to retire the image of the brave, quirky singleton facing off against the Great Smug Married Conspiracy?
Once it moves away form the same well-worn material and gets to adventures in travel, single adoption and homeownership, however, the book becomes much richer. In addition, one of Single State of the Union's chief strengths is the diversity of its contributors' experiences and viewpoints. Rather than a collection of twenty- and thirty-something Carrie Bradshaw wannabes, the authors represent a range of ages (I was surprised at how many were over fifty), relationship experience and sexual identity. One quibble, however, is that a wider representation of ethnic and racial diversity would have helped open the book's range even further.
Single State of the Union is an enjoyable read, often amusing and at times touching. At the end, however, I was left wondering if we'll ever come to a point when women won't need to write books to explain their choices. Perhaps we should just be grateful that women are now in a position to explain their own choices rather than having them explained for - or to - them.
As a 40+ woman, growing up during a time that's sandwiched between a generation of women that got married because it was the thing to do to a generation of women not getting married because they really don't need or necessarily want to, yet society still seems to think that there's something wrong with anyone over 40 who is unattached, it's easy to feel split.
I grew up thinking that someday, at some point I'll probably fall in love & get married. Then, I grew up, fell in & out of love and never got married and realized well, I make a really good living, enjoy my life, travel, am able to spend time on my art and enjoy my private time to an extent that I don't know that I could co-habitate, not to say I don't think about it sometimes. So why are there certain societal views that try to make me feel bad about that? Reading this book made me realize that there are so many women out there just like me, that there's nothing wrong with me, as some might have you think when you're asked the question at the company holiday party..."How old are you?!"
One of the authors explains that after years of working on her other relationships she neglected to spend time on the most important one, with herself, which she is now embracing. That is definately a relationship worth exploring and appreciating, a relationship definately worth celebrating.