Synopses & Reviews
“How could ‘old age’ be a medical diagnosis when I wasn’t even forty?”
“… if aging is difficult for those of us who were only sometimes cute,” she says, “just imagine how hard it must be for the aging knockouts, the living dolls.”
“I love sex. I love middle-age sex. I love married sex. I'm almost fifty and I've never felt sexier. But damn, it took a long time to get here.”
“And who is that woman who looks just like me in the mirror behind the bar? Could she be some evil twin, sitting in a place I’d never go alone, acting like a hanger-on, a groupie?”
“… even past sixty (perhaps especially past sixty), women like me feel impelled to stick to the myths we have invented for ourselves.”
“Slow down. Don’t be so frenetic. Contemplate on the insights you have gained. Listen to the silence within.”
“The young woman’s body I live inside still, that unforgotten home, is a text. It is engraved with memory …”
A collection of blazingly honest, smart, and often humorous essays on middle age contributed by well-known writers such as Julia Glass, Joyce Maynard, Lolly Winston, Antonya Nelson, Diana Abu-Jaber, Judy Blunt, Lauren Slater, and other voices of the baby boom generation.
In the tradition of the bestselling A Bitch in the House, Kiss Tomorrow Hello brings together the experiences and reflections of women as they embark on a new stage of life. Many women in their forties, fifties, and sixties discover that they are racing uphill, trying desperately to keep their romantic and social lives afloat just as those things they believe constant start to shift: The body begins its inevitable decline, sometimes gracefully, sometimes less so…
The twenty-five stellar writers gathered here explore a wide range of concerns, including keeping love (and sex) alive, discovering family secrets, negotiating the demands of illness and infertility, letting children go, making peace with parents, and contemplating plastic surgery. The tales are true, the confessions candid, and the humor infectious—just what you’d expect from the women whose works represent the best writings of their generation. From Lynn Freed’s wry “Happy Birthday to Me” to Pam Houston’s hilarious “Coffee Dates with a Beefcake”; from Ellen Sussman's "Tearing Up the Sheets" to Julia Glass's "I Have a Crush on Ted Geisel," Kiss Tomorrow Hello is a wise, lyrical, and sexy look at the pleasures and perils of midlife.
"Boomer women share their surprise at arriving in midlife and the lessons they've learned along the way. Most of the contributors to this volume, edited by award-winning authors Barnes (In the Wilderness) and Davis (Winter Range), are in their 40s; a handful among them Annick Smith, Beverly Lowry and Mary Clearman Blew have reached 60. The entries vary greatly in tone and literary skill, but there are several outstanding contributions. Diana Abu-Jaber explores with intelligence the moves she has made and the meaning of permanence and place. Julia Glass describes the physical and emotional toll cancer treatments have taken on her and her children. On a lighter note, Pam Houston details with considerable wit a period when she was consumed by an erotic attraction (never consummated) to a man other than her husband (devoted to raising organic cattle of a certain breed, he was known as 'the Scottish Highland beefcake'). No doubt other boomer women will find much to identify with. (On sale Mar. 21)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In the tradition of the bestselling The Bitch in the House, KISS TOMORROW HELLO brings together the experiences and reflections of women as they embark on a new stage of life. Many women in their forties, fifties, and sixties discover that they are racing uphill, trying desperately to keep their romantic and social lives afloat just as those things they believe are constant start to shift, and the body begins its inevitable decline, sometimes gracefully, sometimes less so....
The twenty-five stellar writers gathered here explore a wide range of concerns, including empty-nest syndrome, caring for elderly parents, keeping love (and sex) alive, and contemplating plastic surgery. The tales are true, the confessions candid, and the humor infectious--just what you'd expect from the women whose works represent the best writers of their generation. From Lynn Freed's wry Happy Birthday to Me to Pam Houston's hilarious Coffee Dates with a Beefcake, KISS TOMORROW HELLO is a wise, lyrical, and sexy look at the pleasures and perils of midlife.
"Kiss Tomorrow Hello" brings together the experiences and reflections of women as they embark on a new stage of life. The 25 stellar writers gathered here explore a wide range of concerns, including empty-nest syndrome, caring for elderly parents, keeping love (and sex) alive, and contemplating plastic surgery.
About the Author
Kim Barnes is the author of two memoirs: In the Wilderness
, which won the PEN/Jerard Fund Award and was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize, and Hungry for the World
. Finding Caruso
, a novel, was published in 2003. She teaches at the University of Idaho.
Claire Davis lives in Lewiston, Idaho, where she teaches writing at Lewis-Clark State College. Her first novel, Winter Range, received the MPBA and PNBA awards and her work has appeared in The Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Short Stories. Davis's second novel, Season of the Snake, was published in 2005 to critical acclaim, and her collection of stories Labors of the Heart is forthcoming.
Reading Group Guide
8/2/06 Many women in their forties, fifties, and sixties discover that they are racing uphill, trying desperately to keep their romantic and social lives afloat just as those things they believe are constant start to shift, and the body begins its inevitable decline, sometimes gracefully, sometimes less so.
The twenty-five writers gathered here explore a wide range of concerns, including empty-nest syndrome, caring for elderly parents, keeping love (and sex) alive, and contemplating plastic surgery. The tales are true, the confessions candid, and the humor infectious.
1. The book’s introduction begins with the question, “Are you one of us?” How did this approach affect you? Did you recognize your own experience? What other cultural and social shifts have you witnessed in your lifetime?
2. Rebecca McClanahan writes about a friend who chooses cosmetic surgery because “the person in the mirror is older than the person [she] is inside.” Did you find yourself sympathizing more with the friend or with Rebecca, who struggles to accept the aging process?
3. Joy Passanante writes about how the loss of her “red-dress voice” makes her feel invisible; Lauren Slater details the metamorphosis brought on by an expensive suit; Pam Houston “acts out” by purchasing a pair of “ridiculous” high heels. How is clothing an indicator of age and visibility?
4. Lynn Freed writes, “For the aging woman there is now the requirement that she look forward rather than back, that she do so with hope, and that she do it in public.” Have you grown tired of the “You go, girl!” mentality? What role do culture and commercialization play in reinforcing our need to celebrate every milestone?
5. Instead of finding solace in the celebration of her fiftieth birthday, Joan Silber finds dissatisfaction until she begins volunteer work as a “buddy” for a man dying of AIDS. Does it sometimes seem that the two are acting like a “couple”? Is it easier or more difficult for you to be close friends with a man now that you are older?
6. Several of the authors write about their experiences with illness and injury. Claire Davis breaks her hip; Lolly Winston rides the roller coaster of fertility treatments; Judy Blunt undergoes a radical hysterectomy; Julia Glass struggles with the diagnosis of cancer. How are the authors’ lives redefined by these challenges?
7. Have you ever tried the kind of online dating that Joyce Maynard describes? Have you ever found yourself in that “twilight zone” between being partnered and being single that Lisa Norris details? How do these authors define themselves in the context of their love relationships? In the context of their female friendships?
8. In “OW/YM Q&A,” Karen Karbo responds to the questions that people ask when they find that she has a (much) younger lover. What worries would you have about dating a man many years your junior? What fantasies?
9. What was your response to Pam Houston’s flirtation with Monsieur Gateau du Boeuf? Could you be comfortable in a committed relationship in which the partners share a dedication to “the notion that no one person can provide all things for any other”? Has your sense of jealousy and propriety changed as you’ve aged?
10. Ellen Sussman writes about being raped as a young woman and finding her way back to pleasure. Do you think that some older women assume that, since they have entered “the age of invisibility,” they are no longer in danger of sexual violence? Did you understand Ellen’s mother’s desire for her daughter to have “known something else”?
11. Brenda Miller vividly recalls how at ease she was in her young woman’s body and how she finds herself painfully self-conscious at a yoga retreat. As women of a “certain age,” do we expect too much of our erotic lives? Not enough? Was this concern different for our mothers and grandmothers?
12. Several of the authors write about having children, wanting children, or losing children. How has the culture of “growing young” redefined our sense of motherhood? How have we benefited from greater control over our reproductive decisions? What have we lost?
13. Kim Barnes’s essay explores her response to her teenage daughter’s leaving home. Would you allow your own daughter to attempt self-sufficiency at such a young age? How might your own life have been different if you had been “let go” at sixteen?
14. Andrea Chapin and Annick Smith write about the vertigo they experience when long-held secrets are revealed. Have you ever experienced a sudden revelation that shook your world? Have you made the decision to “go to your grave” with certain secrets, or have you decided that you will tell the truth no matter what? Why?
15. Several authors write about their sense of loss when a sibling dies. If you have siblings, how has your relationship changed over the years? If you are an only child, have you ever wished that you had brothers and sisters with whom you could share the joys and sorrows of aging?
16. Do you remember your mother’s menopause? Was it something that elicited secretiveness and shame, or was it handled matter-of-factly? Have you tried hormone replacement therapy? Have you experimented with alternative remedies? Is there one thing that you wish someone would finally say about the truths of menopause?
17. Diane Abu-Jaber and Beverly Lowry write about how the transient nature of their parents affected their own sense of impermanence. Do you find that, as you age, you become more or less willing to pull up stakes? When you were younger, did you desire to live in a yurt or a mansion? How has that desire changed or remained the same?
18. Toi Derricotte and Meredith Hall explore their response to their mothers’ deaths. How has your own relationship with your mother changed over the years? Do you find that, to your pleasure or horror, you are becoming more and more like her every day? If your mother is no longer alive, did her death bring sorrow, relief, or enlightenment? Do you think that, no matter how old we are when our mothers die, we are left feeling vulnerable and alone?
19. Mary Clearman Blew and Bharti Kirchner write about the possessions and traditions that have been passed on to them. What items have you inherited that you especially treasure? What objects would you just as soon drop in the garbage? What attitudes about aging have you inherited from the women–and men–in your family?
20. Many women talk about the anger that accompanies their twenties and thirties, a time when they are trying to “do it all.” What do the essays in this anthology suggest happens to that anger as women age?
21. Antonya Nelson writes about how, even as a child, she was a worrier. Although she describes her hypochondria and paranoia with intelligent humor, she ends the essay with a solemn meditation on the day “the twin towers fell and suddenly everyone was afraid.” Several other authors refer to 9-11 as well. Why do you think they felt compelled to include this event in their essays on aging?
22. Consider the quotes that begin each section. If you could offer one observation or piece of wisdom about aging to the next generation of women, what would it be