Today is International Women’s Day. A few of the books pictured above go back to high school days and were given me by my two older sisters (I grew up in a family of six girls). “The River,” by Rumer Godden, was required reading at SBHS; the copy in the stack has my sister Shirley’s name in the inside cover. Shirley passed away a few years ago.
Susan and I lived near the beach in some courtyard apartments across from the writer Sylvia Wilkinson. I was in my first two years of teaching, in Venice. I showed Sylvia something I had written, and she said to Susan, “Tell Joe not to quit his day job.” But I never gave up on the idea of the novel and reading and literature and the whole idea of being a writer, whatever that was to come to mean. I got a corporate job, cementing the idea of a day job, but I don’t think one’s occupation necessarily prevents one from writing. What is writing? In any case, 30 years later I finally did quit my day job and finished the novel, having reworked it several times in different formats over the years. Interested readers can find a link to excerpts in the sidebar.
Sylvia had given us a copy of her 1977 novel, “Shadow of the Mountain,” thanking Susan for proofreading and the title. If I were to suggest books by women for International Women’s Day, I might suggest any of Sylvia’s books (I think she may have thought “Cale” was her best), and also “The Solitary Self,” by Mary Midgley. Both Sylvia and Mary warrant wider reading.