Page 19


56server readers are SMART PROGRESSIVE INVOLVED INFLUENTIAL GOOD LOOKING are Nserver oavertisersr Get noticed by Texas Observer folks all over the state and nation. Let them know about your bookstore, service, restaurant, non-profit organization, event, political candidate, shoe store, coffee house, boutique, salon, yoga studio, law practice, etc. \(75-41TheTexasObserver ADVERTISE IN THE OBSERVER! REASONABLE RATES GREAT EXPOSURE Call 512-477-0746 and ask for Julia Austin or e-mail [email protected] Re3,06server reaaersr Consider advertising your business or non-profit in the Observer. GOOD FOR YOU GOOD FOR THE OBSERVER copy at her bedside “like the Bible:’ Like many novels with prim appearances, such as Little Women and The House of Mirth, it’s a book that continues to inspire feminist revolt. But unlike Louisa May Alcott and Edith Wharton, women who chronicled the eras in which they lived, Hailey’s historical fiction cleverly reached back in time to unearth a feminist foremother whose respectability was unwavering, but whose daring thoughts and deeds challenged even contemporary assumptions. “I wanted very badly,” Halley told me, “to write something about the women’s movement, because it meant so much to me … but what I discovered was that the most radical idea, when put into the mouth of my grandmother, became suddenly more accessible:’ Such artful mixing of the traditional and the progressive can be found throughout Hailey’s novels, and not coincidentally, throughout her life. Among the deceits of literature is that fiction, unlike real life, has a plot; stories have momentum while lives merely meander. But let me tell you that Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey’s life has plot: A young girl from Dallas discovers her city and craft while working as a cub reporter for the Morning News. After marrying an aspiring playwright, she sets aside her own ambitions to support his. Then, in middle age, and with her husband’s encouragement, she resumes writing to astounding success. It’s a story worthy of a novel, so it won’t surprise you to discover that it is one: Hailey’s excellent and highly autobiographical Joanna’s Husband & David’s Wife, the tale of a Texas-born woman who, in a new twist on an old narrative, becomes a writer with her family’s support! In the book, it’s the bustling deadlines of the housewifebreakfasts, laundry, and homeworkthat provide Joanna with the structure necessary to become an artist. Instead of an editor, it’s a meatloaf that looms over her head, keeping Joanna sane and determinedly working. This experience reflects Hailey’s own, and upturns common assumptions about the conditions necessary for writing. I mentioned to her, for instance, Virginia Woolf’s famous claim that for a woman to become an artist, she must isolate The Angel in the House \(that tea-pouring, pillow-plumping hostess instinct ladies are socialized to internaldeath. It’s the only time Hailey sounds irked. “Oh, I don’t agree with that at all,” she said. “To tell the truth, Virginia Woolf has always been a little thin-blooded 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 18, 2008