F 'em!: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls



Brooklyn, NY
United States
New York US

“Though novels are what inspired me to want to be a writer—those of Salinger, Atwood, Nabokov, Winterson—I’ve spent most of my actual writing career publishing memoir and personal essays. Now that I’m knee deep into my first novel, though, I’ve been gorging on fiction again. In 2011 I loved Elissa Schappell’s Use Me (Harper Perennial, 2001), Kate Christensen’s The Astral (Doubleday, 2011), Helen Schulman’s This Beautiful Life (Harper, 2011), Eileen Myles’s Inferno, and Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia (Scribner, 2011). But the book that captured me most of all turned out to be a collection of personal essays. I've long been a fan of Jennifer Baumgardner's work as a writer, activist, and educator, but I especially love how accessible her writing is, and how she defies the reductive idea that writing about feminism need be academic—that feminist writing is sexless, humorless, and inflexibly intellectual. Baumgardner's latest work, F'em: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls (Seal Press, 2011), is the antithesis of this stereotype. Besides being rollicking fun, I also appreciate Baumgardner’s willingness to play with the genre of creative nonfiction. Between her funny, honest personal essays on middle-aged Riot Grrrls, breast-feeding, and bisexuality, she's tucked candid interviews with a number of my other favorite multidimensional, pop-fluent feminists, such as Kathleen Hanna, Debbie Stoller, Ani DiFranco, and Björk. As a writer, the book reminded me to be flexible in thinking about what a book (of any genre) need consist of; that it’s possible to be intellectual and playful in the same sentence; and that honesty is always the best, and most compelling, policy.”

Melissa Febos