Today is my 41st birthday and the second anniversary of the blog. To celebrate, I am announcing a special offer.
My first book, How to Survive Graduate School & Other Disasters, is coming out in May and up for pre-sale now at http://www.mainstreetrag.com/MMcCaffery.html for just $8 + shipping. As an added bonus, anyone who pre-orders the book before the end of my birthday (midnight April 5th) will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.
How to Survive Graduate School & Other Disasters is a collection of short stories about everyone from graduate students to Girl Scouts, from teenagers to retirees. These stories are set in Cincinnati, New Jersey, Indiana, Baltimore, East Berlin, and Washington, D.C., but all of them have one thing in common: they are stories about surviving the disasters and dysfunctional relationships we all have with friends, family, and lovers.
Though no single story in HOW TO SURVIVE is explicitly about women’s body issues, all of them feature women who struggle with how they see themselves.
In the title story, “How to Survive Your Last Year of Graduate School,” the main character is reluctant to use her body to get ahead in academia, but ultimately realizes she must at least appear to play the game, causing her to do something she almost never does:
“You wear a skirt.
And knee-high boots.
With black stockings.
And you saunter into [your department chair’s] office like the slut you used to be in college, all hip and ass because you don’t really have the breasts. You tell him how excited you are about your defense, you tell him that your dissertation director has given you the go-ahead and how much you’ve appreciated his guidance over the past five years.
He is moved.
He looks at your knees.
In “The Lake in Winter,” a young woman’s self esteem is so low that she is willing to put herself in dangerous positions with men she doesn’t know just to improve her standing among her peers:
“Violet is just average, and for her, a special boy comes around only as often as the seasons. So she feels like Ty is a prize, something to be cherished. She’s desperate to hold on to him. Even if she can’t do it in public. Even if almost no one else knows what they do. This means she goes along with him no matter how far across the line he travels. In the few weeks that Ty has been taking her to the airport, he has taught her to go further than she’s ever gone before, but the night in the ice-fishing shack is something entirely different.
And in many of the other stories, including "Himmel und Erde," the female characters see themselves as bland and unappealing:
“For every part of Sarah that shines, I have a part that is equally dull. My flat, dirt-colored hair hangs around my shoulders in uneven, nearly transparent strands. My empty gray eyes look at me every morning in the mirror and beg for more.
More beauty, more vitality.
If you don’t get around to ordering the book today but order before the end of the month, have no fear—there will be another drawing—this one for a free copy of Stephanie Klein’s Moose, an outstanding memoir about a slightly plump young girl who was sent, against her will, to fat camp.
Be sure to let me know you ordered (here on the blog, on Facebook, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org), so I can include you in the birthday or April drawing!