Elevate Difference

Roar Softly and Carry a Great Lipstick: 28 Women Writers on Life, Sex and Survival

Roar Softly and Carry a Great Lipstick is what you get when you ask twenty-eight opinionated women to share their personal stories; there’s not a wishy-washy essay in the bunch. Overcoming life’s hurdles is a major theme in this collection of personal essays, and two particular standouts are: Peggy Hong’s sensitive portrayal of the final days of her mother’s life, and Meredith Maran’s “the road not taken” reflection on choosing a walking-over-fire Bohemian life, instead of settling for a less politically-active and more financially prosperous existence.

Hong’s spiritually-vibrant “Walking the Labyrinth with Mother in Memoriam” is a heartfelt meditation on family rituals, and must-read lesson on how to depart from this life with grace and dignity, while Maran’s “To Be (Too) Real: The Unexpected Consequences of Living an Authentic Life” intelligently examines the long-term consequences of her economic and political choices. With a touch of humor, and a grown-up and age-ripened perspective, Maran drives home the point that it is one’s attitude and not the color of the proverbial grass itself that determines if one covets the grass on the other side of the fence or gives thanks for the grass beneath one’s feet.

As much as I loved most of the stories, there were a few that provoked my ire. My inner flower child cringed when Anne Bart destroyed a patch of rhododendrons for the sake of commerce, and I was irked when Ayun Halliday snidely referred to the “gorgeous and privileged” celebrities featured on women’s magazine covers as “cover-creatures.” Creatures? Don’t hate them because they are beautiful, Ayun. In spite of Halliday’s grumpy dismissal of magazines featuring people, places, and things that are fashionable and frivolous, I hold fast to the notion that Time magazine and Marie Claire both hold a legitimate place in the magazine universe.

The twenty-eight writers in Roar Softly roar loud and clear. Their stories will provoke, amuse, and inspire reflection on similar issues in your own life.

Written by: Rachelle Nones, February 4th 2007

Ayun Halliday is one of my favorite writers. I love her books No Touch Monkey! and The Big Rumpus as well as her zine East Village Inky. I would probably join her in any harangue against glossy fashion mostly because it's corporate and boring, but I respect Nones' differing opinion, and Roar Softly sounds great.