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Janet Malcolm went to U of M in the 50s and never had a female professor. Nora Ephron applied for a job as a reporter for "Newsweek", but "Newsweek" didn't hire women reporters in 1962. Author Dean has put together entertaining and enlightening biographical essays about ten women writers, essays that emphasize their influence on each other as a precursor, mentor, competitor, friend or frenemy. Most were (are) famous in their time. There were only one or two writers, any of whose work I had never read, but what I knew about them prior to Dean's book included the famous men in their circle (e.g. Edmund Wilson, Algonquin Round Table members, H.G. Wells, Dashiell Hammett, Carl Bernstein) and not the women. A clever, eye-opening look that connects these ten with their strong opinions, and explores their evolving views on feminism.— From Carla's Picks
Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, and Janet Malcolm are united by what Dean calls "sharpness," the ability to cut to the quick with precision of thought and wit. Sharp is a vibrant depiction of the intellectual beau monde of twentieth-century New York, where gossip-filled parties at night gave out to literary slugging-matches in the pages of the Partisan Review or the New York Review of Books. It is also a passionate portrayal of how these women asserted themselves through their writing in a climate where women were treated with extreme condescension by the male-dominated cultural establishment. Mixing biography, literary criticism, and cultural history, Sharp is a testament to how anyone who feels powerless can claim the mantle of writer, and, perhaps, change the world.