August 16, 2020

Favorite excerpt from favorite book

I read The Women's Room when I was 15—my friend Neela sent the 1977 paperback version of it to me from Chicago and wrote in the inscription: You must read this.

To this day, it's still one of my favorite books. Especially this passage, which I wanted to reread so badly I downloaded the book on my Kindle specially.

I feel terribly alone. I have enough room, but it's empty. Or maybe I don't, maybe room means more than space. Clarissa once said that isolation was insanity. She never says anything carelessly, her words come out of her mouth like fruit that is perfectly ripened. Unripe fruit she doesn't deal in: that's why she is silent so often. So I guess isolation is insanity. But what can I do? At the one or two parties a year I'm invited to, I have to listen to academic gossip, snarling retorts (never made in fact) to the president, nasty cracks about the mediocrity of the dean... In a place like this, where everyone feels a loser, the gossip is mean-minded and full of that kind of hate and contempt that is really disgust at one's own failure in life. There aren't many single people here except for a few very young male instructors. There are damned few women, none single, except for one sixty-year-old widow who does needlepoint at faculty meetings. I mean, not everything is in your head, is it? Do I have to accept total responsibility for my fate? I don't think it's all my fault that I'm lonely. People say—well, Iso wrote (she would!)—that I should drive down to Boston on weekends and go to the singles bars. You know, she could do it and she'd find something interesting. But not me. I know it. I'd meet some middle-aged swinger with a deep tan and sideburns (not quite a beard) and a mod suit (pink jacket, maroon pants) and a belly kept in by three hours a week at the gym or the tennis club, and I'd die of his emptiness even more than I'm dying of my own.