Women seemed stupid….

Word count: 462 words

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Joan Acocella in the New Yorker.

I read the New Yorker ravenously, voraciously. It arrives at our house every week and my husband and I jockey to see who can nab it first. If I can secret it to my bedside table before he notices it, I feel as though I’ve accomplished a coup.

That said, I don’t always read it cover to cover. The magazine is an enormous commitment. It arrives almost every week (several times a year there are two-week issues, but they are almost double the length of the standard editions, so there’s no saving in reading time.) Not that I’m complaining. I’m just explaining how it happens that I sometimes don’t read a particular article for months. 

Because the New Yorker takes up so much space, I used to bundle up all stray copies every six months or so and mail them to a friend. But six months frequently dragged to a year. Now, after we’ve finished reading them, we store the copies in chronological order in a magazine rack in our bedroom. I meet a friend for coffee once a week and I take the oldest copy — usually about five or six months old — to her. She’s a fine writer and an interested reader and she really appreciates it.

I also try to have one last flip through the magazine before giving it away. After all, I might have missed a story!

It turns out I had, with the Oct. 15, 2012 issue. The article? Turning the Page by Joan Acocella. A review of the book The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack, it was exactly the kind of piece I should have spotted on my first run through. Nothing captures my imagination more than stories about reading and writing — and I have a particular interest with respect to how women do these things.

Acocella, in writing about another century — when women were discouraged from reading — also gave me my sentence of the week:

“Without such introspection, women seemed stupid; therefore, they were considered unfit for education; therefore, they weren’t given an education; therefore, they seemed stupid.” 

Her skillful use of repetition made the point that not allowing a segment of the population to read is surely the ultimate Catch 22. I’m going to get myself a copy of The Woman Reader. So glad no one is going to be able to stop me from reading it!

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