cover image Daring: My Passages, a Memoir

Daring: My Passages, a Memoir

Gail Sheehy. Morrow, $29.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-229169-1

An overlong memoir by the investigative journalist and prolific author Sheehy (Passages in Caregiving; Sex and the Seasoned Woman, etc.) tracks four decades of her astonishing ability to catch America’s swiftly changing moods, from undercover operations in gynecology for the New York’s Herald Tribune and prostitution for New York magazine, to books on “pop psychology” and caregiving. She attended college (the first of the women in her Westchester family to do so) in the late 1950s , married early, and worked to put her husband through medical school. Sheehy had drive and chutzpah, asking her first boss—Mr. James Cash Penney of Manhattan’s JC Penney—if he paid the “girls the same as boys.” The gritty, testosterone-fueled world of journalism attracted her, and as a single mother of a young daughter, she moved from the women’s page of the Trib to Clay Felker’s brand-new New York magazine by the late 1960s, making her name swiftly within the ranks of the New Journalists (which included talents like Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, and Joan Didion) with a piece about Bobby Kennedy shortly after his assassination. Romancing the boss turned into a long, tumultuous relationship that eventually led to marriage. Sheehy and Felker became a New York power couple, hosting Henry Kissinger and David Frost for a memorable dinner over Peking duck in 1972, and later weathering the takeover of New York by Rupert Murdoch in 1976. Passages made Sheehy a wildly popular and bestselling author, followed by her groundbreaking work on menopause, The Silent Passage. Sheehy’s ponderous chronicle dwells on her uneven relationship with the ambitious, larger-than-life Felker, whom she nurtured through his death in 2008. There is so much spectacle in terms of a cultural record that the reader loses sight of Sheehy as the focus and heroine of her own life. [em](Sept.) [/em]