A Story Larger Than My Own: Women Writers Look Back On Their Lives And Careers

Paperback | February 27, 2014

EditorJanet Burroway

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In 1955, Maxine Kumin submitted a poem to the Saturday Evening Post. “Lines on a Half-Painted Housemade it into the magazine—but not before Kumin was asked to produce, via her husband’s employer, verification that the poem was her original work.

Kumin, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, was part of a groundbreaking generation of women writers who came of age during the midcentury feminist movement. By challenging the status quo and ultimately finding success for themselves, they paved the way for future generations of writers. In A Story Larger than My Own, Janet Burroway brings together Kumin, Julia Alvarez, Jane Smiley, Erica Jong, and fifteen other accomplished women of this generation to reflect on their writing lives.

The essays and poems featured in this collection illustrate that even writers who achieve critical and commercial success experience a familiar pattern of highs and lows over the course of their careers. Along with success comes the pressure to sustain it, as well as a constant search for subject matter, all too frequent crises of confidence, the challenges of a changing publishing scene, and the difficulty of combining writing with the ordinary stuff of life—family, marriage, jobs. The contributors, all now over the age of sixty, also confront the effects of aging, with its paradoxical duality of new limitations and newfound freedom.

Taken together, these stories offer advice from experience to writers at all stages of their careers and serve as a collective memoir of a truly remarkable generation of women.

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In 1955, Maxine Kumin submitted a poem to the Saturday Evening Post. “Lines on a Half-Painted House” made it into the magazine—but not before Kumin was asked to produce, via her husband’s employer, verification that the poem was her original work. Kumin, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, was part of a groundbreaking gen...

Janet Burroway is the author of eight novels, including The Buzzards and Raw Silk; two best-selling textbooks, Writing Fiction and Imaginative Writing; and the forthcoming memoir Losing Tim. She is also the author of numerous plays, short stories, poetry collections, and children’s books. She is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.6 inPublished:February 27, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022601410X

ISBN - 13:9780226014104

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction
Janet Burroway

Julia Alvarez
The Older Writer in the Underworld

Margaret Atwood
On Craft

Madeleine Blais
The Ratio Is Narrowing

Rosellen Brown
Parsing Ambition

Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mothers and Daughters

Toi Derricotte
The Offices of My Heart

Gail Godwin
Working on the Ending

Patricia Henley
The Potholder Model of Literary Ambition

Erica Jong
Breaking the Final Taboo

Marilyn Krysl
Passing It On

Maxine Kumin
Metamorphosis: From Light Verse to the Poetry of Witness

Honor Moore
On Certainty

Alicia Ostriker
Splitting Open: Some Poems on Aging

Linda Pastan
Old Woman, or Nearly So Myself: An Essay in Poems

Edith Pearlman
Public Appearances

Hilda Raz
Say Yes

Jane Smiley
Boys and Girls

Laura Tohe
The Stories from Which I Come

Hilma Wolitzer
What I Know

Acknowledgments

Contributors

Editorial Reviews

"These writers arrived at a time when women's roles at home and work were changing. Their history gives the collection context while texture comes from the diversity of the experiences of each coming into her own voice."