Remember those book banners whose knickers were all twisted up over this collection? I bet this week’s stories, “Baptizing” and “Epilogue: The Photographer”, really got them going.

Del has ::whispers:: met a boy.

She’s still sorting out what that means. She’s still unsure what it means to be a boy.

“He could not do otherwise; he was what he seemed. I, whose natural boundaries were so much more ambiguous, who soaked up protective coloration wherever it might be found, began to see that it might be restful to be like Jerry.”

And she’s equally uncertain what it means to be a girl, what limitations and possibilities exist for her.

“I wanted men to love me, and I wanted to think of the universe when I looked at the moon. I felt trapped, stranded; it seemed there had to be a choice where there couldn’t be a choice.”

And the instruction that she receives from her boyfriend’s mother doesn’t sit quite right with her. In fact, his mother’s suggestion that Del get herself fitted for a diaphragm rankles Del.

Certainly it doesn’t fit with what her own mother would have offered as advice, with what Del’s mother would have thought appropriate for a girl, for a woman.

“ firmly was she convinced that sex was something no woman — no intelligent woman — would ever submit to unless she had to. I really liked that better. It seemed more fitting, in a mother, than Jerry’s mother’s preposterous acceptance, indecent practicality.”

It’s all a bit unsettling.

And then Del meets ::whispers:: another boy.

And it’s more than unsettling: it tosses all those ideas about girlhood and womanhood to the proverbial winds.

In these stories, as in the rest of 1971’s Lives of Girls and Women (and the author’s first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades), Del simply has to make her own way. It’s ordinary and extraordinary, all at once.

“People’s lives, in Jubilee as elsewhere, were dull, simple, amazing and unfathomable — deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum.”

The Flats Road; Heirs of the Living Body MAR9
Princess Ida; Age of Faith MAR16
Changes and Ceremonies; Lives of Girls and Women MAR23
Baptizing; Epilogue: The Photographer (above)

Up next: 1974’s Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You
** Dates to be determined following Orange Prize Season**
Something I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You; Material
How I Met My Husband;  Walking on Water
Forgiveness in Families; Tell Me Yes or No; The Found Boat
Executioners; Marrakesh; The Spanish Lady
Winter Wind; Memorial; The Ottawa Valley