criticism of a modern society…


It’s the birthday of author Fay Weldon, born Franklin Birkinshaw in Worcestershire, England (1931). Weldon grew up in New Zealand until the age of 14, when, some years after her parents’ divorce, she moved with her mother and sister to live with her grandmother in England. She never saw her father again, and believed until she went to college that “the world was peopled by females.” She attended St. Andrews in Scotland, where she studied Economics and Psychology; her acceptance, she believes, was based on the fact that the school assumed, given her Christian name of Franklin, that she was male. After graduation she married, divorced, and worked as an advertising copywriter to support herself and her young son.
Her early life set her up, perhaps, to write books that are famous for their investigation — and criticism — of a modern society still under the sway of an antiquated patriarchal structure. Often referred to as a feminist icon, Weldon is revered for cultural commentary that is sharp, funny, and highly intelligent, meaning books like The Fat Woman’s Joke (her first), The Life and Loves of a She Devil (her best known), and Chalcot Crescent (her most recent) that successfully straddle the divide between mainstream and literary, receiving both critical and popular acclaim.
Weldon said: “I see myself as someone who drops tiny crumbs of nourishment, in the form of comment and conversation, into the black enormous maw of the world’s discontent. I will never fill it up or shut it up; but it seems my duty, not to mention my pleasure, to attempt to do so, however ineptly. See me as Sisyphus, but having a good time.”
Poetry Almanac Sept 22, 2022 

Clara: In the Post Office
by Linda Hasselstrom
I keep telling you, I’m not a feminist.

I grew up an only child on a ranch,

so I drove tractors, learned to ride.

When the truck wouldn’t start, I went to town

for parts. The man behind the counter

told me I couldn’t rebuild a carburetor.

I could: every carburetor on the place. That’s

necessity, not feminism.

I learned to do the books

after my husband left me and the debts

and the children. I shoveled snow and pitched hay

when the hired man didn’t come to work.

I learned how to pull a calf

when the vet was too busy. As I thought,

the cow did most of it herself; they’ve been

birthing alone for ten thousand years. Does

that make them feminists?

It’s not

that I don’t like men; I love them—when I can.

But I’ve stopped counting on them

to change my flats or open my doors.

That’s not feminism; that’s just good sense.

“Clara: In the Post Office” by Linda Hasselstrom from Roadkill.

© Spoon River Publishing, 1987. Reprinted with permission.
Writers Almanac Sept 23, 2022

“Writing is very hard work and knowing what you’re doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote

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