Gilman, Susan Jane 1964–
Gilman, Susan Jane 1964–
CAREER: Writer. World News Radio, Washington, DC, commentator; Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor, MI, special news reporter; Jewish Week staff writer; Hear Us Emerging Sisters, former humor columnist and editor. Staff writer for a U.S. congresswoman; speech and editorial writer for trade association, Washington, DC; taught writing, literature, poetry, and drama at University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.
AWARDS, HONORS: Literary Award for Short Fiction, Greensboro Review; three Avery Hopwood Awards, University of Michigan, for fiction and nonfiction; Cowden Memorial fellowship; Gutterman Poetry Prize; New York Press Association Award for feature writing, for articles written on assignment in Poland for Jewish Week.
Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing up Groovy and Clueless (memoir), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Real Simple, Ms., Newsday, US, Washington City Paper, Lilith, New York Observer, and Village Voice, among others. Author's short fiction has been published in Story, Ploughshares, Beloit Fiction Journal, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Greensboro Review, and in anthologies Adios Barbie/Body Outlaws: Young Women Write about Body Image and Identity and Sex & Single Girls, Seal Press.
SIDELIGHTS: Susan Jane Gilman's first book, Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess, was described by Gillian Engberg in Booklist as "a raunchy, defiant alternative to retro dating and lifestyle guides." In an interview in Brown Alumni Online Gilman explained she wrote the book because she "was fed up with all the ridiculous advice women are being given: 'Subsist on 1,200 calorie a day.' 'Hurry up and catch that husband before the good ones are taken.' Someone needed to answer … all the misogynistic messages in our culture." Challenging the advice given in numerous books targeting women, Gilman humorously attacks the cultural forces that lead women to care more about their beauty than their brains. She also touches on topics like money, relationships, workplace harassment, and women's self-esteem. The book includes sayings and anecdotes from other women, most notably her grandmother. Although the book is slanted with humor, it also includes what Gilman thinks is practical advice women should consider when dating, eating, and even interacting with each other. In a review of Kiss My Tiara in Off Our Backs, Sarah Schlichter noted that Gilman's "snappy, clever prose … keeps the pages turning. Most importantly she points out significant problems in a way that's funny rather than gloomy and empowering rather than discouraging."
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing up Groovy and Clueless is Gilman's memoir about growing up in New York City and her search to find herself during early adulthood. Once again, Gilman writes with humor but also touches on personal and emotional topics, such as growing up with leftist parents who later divorced when Gilman was in her twenties. The memoir covers the gamut of Gilman's experiences, from her grade-school discoveries to her changing views of sex, work, and her own body. For example, she writes about being a Jew in a Presbyterian school—her outcast status further established by her chubbiness and attention to studies. She describes her emotional hurt when her college boyfriend dumped her, as well as falling stories about her wedding, to which she wore a "pouffy white dress." Gillian Engberg, writing in Booklist, commented that "Hilarious, assured, and moving, these are wildly entertaining stories." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted, "It's no great revelation that 'all of us could use a good laugh these days,' but this author delivers more than just one, and that makes her special." In a People review Francine Prose wrote, "This memoir offers the pleasure of spending time in the company of an observant and vivid writer." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the author "starts slowly but gathers momentum" and that "Gilman's recollections of moving bumpily toward adulthood are keenly observant."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gilman, Susan Jane, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing up Groovy and Clueless, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Booklist, September 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, p. 41.
Entertainment Weekly, January 14, 2005, "'Dress' for Success: An Author You Can't Refuse" (interview), p. 94.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, p. 947.
Off Our Backs, May, 2002, Sarah Schlichter, review of Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess, p. 46.
People, January 10, 2005, Francine Prose, review of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, p. 45.
Publishers Weekly, November 1, 2004, review of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, p. 51.
Brown Alumni Online, http://brownalumnimagazine.com/ (March 24, 2005), "Q&A: Susan Jane Gilman '86."
Senior Women Web, http://www.seniorwomen.com/ (March 24, 2005), review of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress.
Susan Jane Gilman Home Page, http://www.kissmytiara.com (March 24, 2005).