Brain Candy Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    The Powell's Playlist | September 25, 2015

    Caitlin Doughty: IMG Caitlin Doughty's Playlist for Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

    The soundtrack perfectly suited to facing your own mortality. ("My Way," "Wind beneath My Wings," and other popular funeral songs need not apply.)... Continue »
    1. $11.17 Sale Trade Paper add to wish list

Qualifying orders ship free.
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
25 Remote Warehouse Erotica- General

Girls: A Paean


Girls: A Paean Cover




We are a family of girls — five sisters, a strong-minded mother, and an even stronger-minded grandmother, Thelma, who would have you believe that our family was made only of women.

>A favorite story of Grammy's was about a time when I, Martha, was three weeks old. I was a bundled newborn in our mother's arms, her fourth daughter, born six years after the first. My three older sisters, Laura, Sarah, and Jenny, swarmed at our grandmother's feet in matching outfits our mother had sewn out of fabric from Liberty. We were on the lawn at my grandmother's house in Maine beneath an American flag fluttering in the stiff sea breeze. It was 1964. The Atlantic Ocean spread vast in front of us, and the air smelled of salt and pine. "Here," my mother is reported to have said, handing me to her mother. "You can have this one. I've already got three."

"That's simply not true," our mother would say about the story her mother told.

No matter the truth, I was one more girl for Grammy's clan, one more girl to march intrepidly over time in a line of female ancestors that reached back two, three hundred years. My sisters and I followed in the path of Maid Marian of Scotland, who loved to ride horses and had a keen passion for medicine; of Nancy Cooper, cousin of the great James Fenimore and the first woman in our family to earn a higher degree — which she did during the Civil War at Richmond Seminary; of Glenna, an itinerant schoolteacher in the Wild West; of Thelma, our grandmother, a registered nurse at the Brooklyn Hospital; of Pryde, our mother, an accomplished portrait photographer and the grandmother of two girls, so far anyway, and one surprise boy.

When our grandmother was in the hospital dying of heart failure, Laura was seven months pregnant with the baby who would become Isobel Justine. On a chalkboard in her room Laura wrote Isobel's name so that Grammy could see it from her bed. Isobel was still just a little octopus in her mother's womb, kicking and turning and bouncing with life as our grandmother was quietly dying. "No, no," Grammy declared emphatically, seeing the name. "That cannot be her name. You must name her Glenna. Name her Glenna for my mother. Glenna was a strong woman. Glenna is a strong name." Her determined, sharp green eyes held Laura. Isobel was of her, of Thelma, and would be hers, a baby bundle in a blanket in her arms on a lawn in Maine. Possessively Grammy pressed her hand to Laura's belly. She was placing Isobel in her matriarchy, giving her a role, dreaming Isobel's future so that she could glimpse it.

Not long after our grandmother's death, Jenny became pregnant with a son. A son? None of us knew what we would do with a boy! Indeed, Jenny cried upon learning this news. He was the first boy in our family in a long time. Jenny named him Tommaso after our grandmother Thelma, whose nickname was Tommy. Now, at three, surrounded by his aunts and his best friend, Isobel, he often asks if he can wear dresses when he becomes a girl, if he can grow his hair long, wear high heels and lipstick when he becomes a girl. At the same time he and Isobel run around the house dressed in cowboy costumes, wielding swords, and shooting pistols.
We began work on this book in the fall of 1997. The idea of having a baby girl myself was still a distant fantasy, though my desire to have a daughter fueled my curiosity about the state of girlhood in this country. As we finished the book two years later I learned that I was pregnant and that the baby was a girl. I could see my grandmother holding her, imagine her looking at the baby and sighing and exclaiming, as she loved to do when something thrilled her — "I've died and gone to heaven." In the sonogram picture, the baby was a big-eyed thing with a vast forehead and an anxious little frown peering out of the chthonic depths. She seemed to be expressing concerned curiosity about what was outside, in the same way, it seemed, as we were wondering, speculating, anticipating what was inside — who will Livia be?

Product Details

Kelman, Nic
Back Bay Books
Erotica - General
General Fiction
Girls; Young women; Middle aged men; Man-woman relationships; Sexual fantasies; May-December romances; Forbidden love; Obsessive love
Publication Date:
8.22x5.52x.64 in. .53 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Adverbs: A Novel
    Used Hardcover $6.50
  2. Little Red Riding Hood in the Red... Used Trade Paper $4.95
  3. Mailman Used Trade Paper $7.95
  4. The Mysterious Secret of the... Used Hardcover $4.50
  5. Headless (Little House on the Bowery) Used Trade Paper $4.50
  6. Teaching a Stone to Talk:... Used Trade Paper $7.50

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Erotica » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Girls: A Paean New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$21.25 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316155960 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Hot sex sears a wide path through this controversial novel's landscape of the male psyche. Destinations include the obvious (lust, money, power), but also those less tangible factors that set a man's course (ambition, failure, meaning, purpose). Provocative and, yes, explicit on several fascinating levels.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Kelman's blend of Penthouse-grade sexual transgression, Nietzschean bombast and Sinatra-esque rue is a vigorous rendering of a certain...mindset of masculine privilege." Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "A brutally seductive picture of some of the most illicit facets of male desire."
"Review" by , "The concept of young love takes on a sinister connotation in Kelman's novel, in which men who have reached a certain age and a certain level of wealth pursue women half their age — or younger — with a vampiric lust."
"Review" by , "Preternaturally poised, vastly literate, and sticky with sex, this debut is the work of someone who has read alot....Girls is one of those books that gets its hooks in you from the first sentence."
"Review" by , "Starting at 18, I was a stripper for six or so years, and can testify with authority that this book is a complete success, artistically and thematically. The Pusan story literally made me cry, and haunts me still. I guess if you've made your living being the fix-it girl for this type of guy, it leaves a lingering mark...just heartbreaking."
"Review" by , "[A] disturbing but irresistable first novel...packs a thudding gut punch...just try putting it down."
"Synopsis" by , Selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the "Best Books of 2003." The novels' explicit eroticism and its insights into the male psyche are certain to ignite lively discussion in reading groups. A novel that will especially interest readers of Chuck Palahniuk, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Lethem.

Girls, is an erotic spree, a journey into the most forbidden corners of male desire, a story about men who have been rendered numb by their power, who have sacrificed everything for success, who have lost their souls and can find meaning only by living vicariously, obsessively through young women.

"Synopsis" by , girls is an erotic spree, a journey into the most forbidden corners of male desire, a story about men who have been rendered numb by their power, who have sacrificed everything for success, who have lost their souls and can find meaning only by living vicariously, obsessively through young women.
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at