Kamen, Paula 1967-
Kamen, Paula 1967-
Born April 9, 1967, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Joseph and Beatrice Kamen. Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S., 1989. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish. ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Office—PMB 274, 5315 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640-2113. Agent—Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, 307 7th Ave., Ste. 2407, New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, playwright, journalist, public speaker, and educator. Star Publications, Chicago Heights, IL, reporting intern, 1987; Whittle Communications, Knoxville, TN, editorial intern, 1988; Daily Herald, Du Page County, IL, stringer, 1989; Kenosha News, reporter, 1990; visiting research scholar at Northwestern University, 1994—. Aunt Martha's Social Service Agency, big sister to foster children, 1991.
Certificate of Merit, feature writing, Hearst National Writing Competition, 1988.
Feminist Fatale: Voices from the Twentysomething Generation Explore the Future of the Women's Movement, Donald I. Fine (New York, NY), 1991.
Seven Dates with Seven Writers (play), first produced at the Factory Theater Comedy Festival, 1998.
Jane: Abortion and the Underground (play), first produced by the Green Highway Theater Company in Chicago, IL, 1999.
A Cure for AIDS (play), first produced by SNAP! Productions in Omaha, NE, July, 2000.
Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution, New York University (New York, NY), 2001.
All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache (memoir), Da Capo (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind (memoir and biography), Da Capo (Cambridge, MA), 2007.
Contributor to anthologies, including Next: Young American writers on the New Generation, Norton, 1994; "Bad Girls/Good Girls": Women, Sex and Power in theNineties, Rutgers University Press, 1996; Shiny Adidas Track Suits and the Death of Camp: The Best of Might Magazine, Berkley Boulevard, 1998; and Appeal to Reason: The First Twenty-five Years of In These Times, 2002. Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Might, Seventeen, and Ms. Kamen's research papers are housed at the Special Collections Department of the Northwestern University Library and at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University.
Paula Kamen told CA: "I specialize in writing on feminist and health issues and the post-boomer generation, with an accessible, humorous style." Kamen's Feminist Fatale: Voices from the Twentysomething Generation Explore the Future of the Women's Movement discusses feminist topics from the perspective of younger women. Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Jacqueline Austin found the book filled with "interesting, surprising assertions" and hailed it as a "broad portrait of today's women's movement" written from a "singularly intelligent point of view." Based on 236 interviews, the book covers such issues as women's health, the effects of Republican agendas on the women's movement, and problems faced by women of color. Throughout, Kamen argues that the feminist cause has been hurt by its past successes, that established feminist organizations do not actively welcome the contributions of younger women, and that younger women are generally less politicized than earlier generations—unless a negative experience radicalizes them. Austin praised Kamen for asking readers some difficult questions, and commended Feminist Fatale as a "thoughtful book by a promising, provocative writer."
In Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution, Kamen offers a survey of young women's attitudes toward sex at the end of the 1990s. Based on more than one hundred interviews, the book shows that young women expect more autonomy and choice in their sexual lives—to the extent that college-age women reveal attitudes and behaviors similar to those of college-age men. Seeing these new mores as evidence of confidence, Kamen finds that young women exhibit a high degree of comfort with their own sexuality. Many reviewers welcomed Her Way as an intelligent and informative book. In the New York Times Book Review, Courtney Weaver called it an "exhaustive and complex survey of what women want," and praised Kamen's ability to highlight her data's more startling and amusing material. Though Weaver noted that the book is "sometimes spread too thin," the critic went on to write that "reading it is an education." National Review contributor Maggie Gallagher wrote that "Kamen is … a good journalist who asks key questions and lets her subjects speak for themselves."
In her memoir All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache, Kamen recounts her long battle with chronic headaches. Her headaches began at the age of twenty-four. The book follows Kamen's experience over the next ten years as she tries various remedies, from standard drugs with their annoying and sometimes dangerous side effects to alternative medicines, which proved to be ineffective in the author's case. Through a series of interviews, the author also probes the problems of chronic pain sufferers in general. Kamen includes numerous sidebars throughout the book in which the latest scientific research concerning chronic pain problems and new treatments are discussed. Although several critics noted that a book about a ten-year constant headache might not sound like a fun read, most agreed that Kamen's handling of the topic manages to overcome that obstacle. A Publishers Weekly contributor, for example, noted that the author's "irreverent sense of humor about her pain and herself makes the book a delight to read." Eris Weaver, writing in the Library Journal, called All in My Head "engaging, informative, and at times humorous." A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to the memoir as "sharp, entertaining, informative, and blessedly free of poor-me-see-how-I-suffered-ism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kamen, Paula, All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache, Da Capo (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
American Scientist, May-June, 2005, Amos Esty, review of All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache, p. 269.
Booklist, December 15, 2000, Vanessa Bush, review of Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution, p. 766.
Chicago, January, 2001, Robert Kurson, "Virgin Territory," author interview, p. 18.
Internet Bookwatch, September, 2006, review of All in My Head.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2005, review of All in My Head, p. 35.
Library Journal, September 15, 1991, Beverly Miller, review of Feminist Fatale: Voices from the Twentysomething Generation Explore the Future of the Women's Movement, p. 104; February 15, 2005, Eris Weaver, review of All in My Head, p. 150.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 20, 1991, Jacqueline Austin, review of Feminist Fatale.
Ms., December, 2000, Sanaz Mozafarian, review of Her Way, p. 88.
National Review, July 9, 2001, Maggie Gallagher, review of Her Way.
New Directions for Women, May, 1992, review of Feminist Fatale, p. 19.
New York Times Book Review, January 28, 2001, Courtney Weaver, review of Her Way, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, September 13, 1991, review of Feminist Fatale, p. 74; November 20, 2000, review of Her Way, p. 57; January 17, 2005, review of All in My Head, p. 44.
School Library Journal, April, 1992, Christine C. Menefee, review of Feminist Fatale, p. 165.
Women's Review of Books, June, 2001, Rebecca L. Walkowitz, review of Her Way, p. 20; May-June, 2006, Debra Spark, review of All in My Head, p. 11.
ChronicBabe.com,http://www.chronicbabe.com/ (July 17, 2005), Jenni Prokopy, review of All in My Head.
Paula Kamen Home Page,http://www.paulakamen.com (April 9, 2007).
SFist,http://www.sfist.com/ (August 1, 2005), "Interview: Paula Kamen."