Juska, Jane 1933(?)-
JUSKA, Jane 1933(?)-
Born c. 1933; married (divorced, 1972); children: Andy. Hobbies and other interests: Singing, hiking.
Home—Berkeley, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Villard, Random House, 201 East 50th St., New York, NY 10022.
Former high-school English teacher; volunteer teacher at San Quentin prison.
(Editor with Mary Ann Smith) The Whole Story: Teachers Talk about Portfolios, National Writing Project (Berkeley, CA), 2001.
A Round-heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, Villard (New York, NY), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A book about her teaching career and the challenges of finding intellectually equal partners.
Jane Juska grew up in a small town in Ohio. Throughout her childhood she was raised to obey men, taking no thrill in her sexuality for fear of developing a bad reputation. However, at the age of sixty-seven, finding herself living in Berkeley, California, divorced from her first and only husband, and finally retiring from her long career as an English teacher, Juska decided to take control of her own sexual destiny. After realizing that all the volunteer commitments and art museums in the world could not fill the void of actual human touch, she decided to place a personal ad in the New York Review of Books in the fall of 1999. "Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me." Within a month's time she received sixty-three responses, and took a year to follow them up. She recorded her experiences of these encounters and published them as A Round-heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance.
Juska decided to weave her story in the form of a novel, believing that readers would find her story too fantastical to be true. In addition to recounting her numerous sexual encounters with men of varying characters, she also tells the story of her life: her small-town upbringing, her unhappy marriage and divorce, her alcoholism and weight gain. As a result of her ad, Juska finds herself entangled with men from age thirty-two to eighty four, from all walks of life, some charming and caring and others less amiable. In the end it was one of these male companions who convinced Juska to break free from a stifling writing group and write her book as an autobiography and true testament of her life.
Throughout her memoir Juska tells her tale with riveting honesty and a comedic air that engages readers. "Expressive and touching: readers will be rooting for Juska to get all that she wants," stated a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, while Ilene Cooper in Booklist praised the novel as a "refreshingly honest, remarkably candid story" that illustrates "the courage shown by a round-heeled woman who decided it was time to pursue passion with a vengeance." Calling A Round-heeled Woman "wryly comic and bittersweet," Library Journal contributor Martha Cornog added that Juska comes across as an intellectual "Everywoman confronting the legendary meat market of romance."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper review of A Round-heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, p. 1431.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of A Round-heeled Woman, p. 285.
Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Martha Cornog review of A Round-heeled Woman, p. 91.
New York Times, April 27, 2003, Alex Witchel review of A Round-heeled Woman.
Publishers Weekly, March 3, 2003, review of A Round-heeled Woman, p. 62.