Girls Only

Alex Witchel, Author
Alex Witchel, Author Random House (NY) $3.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-679-43777-2
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 193 pages - 978-0-7432-5492-2
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-385-32395-6
Hardcover - 978-0-517-45450-3
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4165-5376-2
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New York Times reporter Witchel's aptly titled book is based on a series of previously published Times articles exploring relationships between and among the women in her family (her mother, her younger sister and herself), their extended family and New York City. With an urbane and sardonic eye, she dissects the personalities, customs, Judaism and history of her family from the perspective of an about-to-be-40-year-old who still wants to believe, deep down, that Mommy knows best. Aspiring with only partial success to a Nora Ephron-like barbed matter-of-factness in this combination of memoir and reportage, Witchel occasionally leaves the reader feeling claustrophobic, desperate to throw open a window for air beyond Manhattan hotel weekends, restaurants and department stores. Still, her candor can be affecting, particularly in the final chapter, about the deaths of her grandmothers. And she occasionally shows a flair for genuine comedy, as in the hilarious chapter about sex: she brings her mother--a longtime Star Trek fan--to an interview with William Shatner; her mother and ""Captain Kirk"" hit it off, and he dazzles both women by kissing Witchel's mother three times on the mouth. (Jan.)
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