In this rich and savvy collection of commentaries on the events, people and issues that shape and define our world, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and New York Times bestselling author Ellen Goodman cuts to the heart of the stories and controversies that helped to define our times.
For over twenty-five years, nationally syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman has been training her lens on contemporary American life. A marvelously direct writer with keen insight into what makes the average American tick, laugh and occasionally boil with rage, Goodman takes her measure of the national psyche in a voice that is at once perceptive, witty and deeply humane.
Paper Trail, her first collection in more than ten years, journeys through an era that has been golden in its advances and bleak in its disappointments. In a voice both reasoned and impassioned, she makes sense of the cultural debates that have captured our attention and sometimes become national obsessions. She wrestles with the close-to-the-bone issues of abortion, working mothers and gay marriage, the struggles for civil liberties and equal rights, and the moral complexity of assisted suicide and biotech babies. As she wends through the era of the Clinton scandals and the “amBushing” of America, the dot-com boom and bust, the horrors of September 11 and the War on Terrorism, Goodman pauses to celebrate some of our lost icons, including Jackie Onassis, Princess Diana and Doctor Spock. She reminds us as well of the fleeting fame of such instant celebrities as Elian Gonzalez and Lorena Bobbitt.
Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman and novelist-journalist Patricia O’Brien provide a thoughtful, deeply personal look at the enduring bonds of friendship between women. Friends for twenty-seven years, they have served as confessors and advisers to each other during romantic, career, and child-raising crises, and have shopped together, laughed together, and enjoyed a bond unlike any other.
Drawing on interviews with numerous women, the authors take readers into the heart of “the place where women do the work of their lives, the growing, the understanding, the reflection,” and illuminate both the fragility and strength of relationships that are irreplaceable lifelines.
In a collection of her syndicated columns from the last three years, Goodman takes on a panorama of topics, from such personal observations as the predations of a bluejay in her back yard to a series of considerations on issues raised by the “Baby M” case. With good humor and focused intelligence, she often takes a step back from current affairs to offer an alternative perspective to the prevailing one. She observes that the story told by Sydney Biddle Barrows, the “Mayflower Madam,” has less to do with sex than entrepreneurship: “It’s about the joy of running your own business. The Story of B.”
Often reflecting on the roles and status of women in the workplace or at home, Goodman speaks in a consistently well-reasoned voice; she’s impassioned but not blinkered, serious, not sober, and never glib when she’s funny. Able to envision in co-ed dorms a nurturing place for a comfortable relationship between men and women who will one day work together, she can also worry about the loss of satisfaction for young lovers who, committed to career and personal potential, consider themselves in love “for now,” not forever. Reliably witty and original, Goodman proves to have both punch and staying power in these short essays.
True to her book’s title, Boston Globe syndicated columnist Goodman makes many value judgments in this collection of some 130 columns. She advocates lifting the ban on gays in the military; gives credence to Anita Hill’s sexual harassment charges against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas; and lashes Woody Allen for failure to distinguish right from wrong in having an affair with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter.
Goodman’s pithy style and keen insights inform her essays on money and marriage, race relations, overpopulation, teaching children about sex, and urban squirrels as exemplars of adaptability and flat-out nerve. Although topical pieces on Madonna, the William Kennedy Smith date-rape trial and other fleeting events have lost their fizz, the columns, on balance, hold up well as a search for values in an age when parents neglect or abandon their children and children legally “divorce” their parents.