SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION. Got your attention, right? Just ironic enough not to seem boastful, n’est-ce pas? It is easy for me to tell my friend whose first novel is coming out that she must grit her teeth and develop (to paraphrase Norman Mailer, who knew from egotism) advertisements for herself. It’s harder when I have to do it. Both of us have Facebook pages. I have this website. She has had cards printed up touting her book. We’re trying.
I at least am handicapped by the messages I got in my formative years, when women were supposed to be seen and not heard. My family wasn’t particularly sexist—indeed, both my mother and grandmother had significant careers—but in the 1950s female repression was in the water supply, it was in the breakfast cereal, it was undoubtedly in magazines like The American Girl (the original Girl Scout publication, not the current doll-centered incarnation), Calling All Girls, and Seventeen. It was distasteful to brag. It was unseemly to thrust yourself forward. God forbid that you should congratulate yourself publicly on some accomplishment.
By necessity, the women of my generation (now over 60) have partially grown out of that. But there is a residual impulse to apologize for seeking attention, a disinclination to praise ourselves or even to accept kindnesses from others.
Enough preliminaries: That was my backhanded, cowardly, shamefaced way of sidling up to two upcoming events at the 92nd Street Y (92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, New York City): First, I had a piece of art, which I call Generosity, selected for the 19th Annual Juried Student Exhibition (a slightly cropped version is in my gallery, below). There is an opening reception, 5-6:45, on May 11, at the Y’s Weill Art Gallery; and it will be on view there from 12 to 4 P.M. on May 17, 19, 24-25, and 27, and June 6-7, 9, and 17.
You’ll notice that it is a nude. I contributed an essay about life-drawing and the ageing naked body (“Go Figure”) to the collection In the Fullness of Time: 32 Women on Life After 50, and there will be a reading and discussion celebrating that excellent (if I do say so myself) book at the Y on May 12 at 8 P.M. Readers/speakers include Ntozake Shange, Vivian Gornick, and Abigail Thomas. If you are a woman of a certain age trying to figure out where to go, what to do, and who the hell you are now, you really need to come. Details and tickets ($29) at www.92y.org, or there’s a link on the In the Fullness of Time page on Facebook.
I feel an overwhelming desire to end this with an apology. But I won’t.