cover image Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories

Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories

Katha Pollitt, . . Random, $22.95 (207pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6332-1

This collection of reflections by the Nation essayist and poet Pollitt (Reasonable Creatures ) ranges in subject from her philandering boyfriend to a general late-midlife sense of loss. The title essay is the zippiest and most successful, fashioning a canny metaphor about the importance of observation both in learning to drive for the first time at age 52 and in recognizing that her lover of seven years was cheating on her from the get-go. Pollitt plays the conflicted modern woman par excellence, both feminist and feminine; she writes of unabashedly joining a Marxist study group at the behest of her guru-like boyfriend, who padded the meetings with past and present lovers (“In the Study Group”), then wonders with wistful anticipation what kind of life it will be when she has outlived all the men who find her desirable (“After the Men Are Dead”). Familiarity seems to breed weariness, however, and her essays about motherhood (“Beautiful Screamer”) and women's tenacious collusion in men's superiority (“Sisterhood”) have the feel of oft-tread ground. (Sept. 4)