Edith

ONE CENT BOOKS, MY GENRE

This week I received six novels for which I paid one cent each.  Of course I also paid the postage ($3.99), and the novels all look much used and written upon and eaten over. All were on Amazon, on the “other listings” section, the prices beginning at one cent and going upwards.  Only one was on Kindle. They arrived one by one from bookstores all over the country like gifts from unknown lovers.  Book lovers, that is.
I decided a month ago to write some sort of article about the paucity of novels about old ladies, my genre.  I can think of quite a few books about old geezers, written and applauded around the world. J. M. Coetzee, Wallace Stegner, John Updike  come to mind, probably because they are on my bookshelves.  As for women, only Olive Kitteridge is tucked in with the S’s.  Books by women of all ages, of course.  About?  Not really.
When I Googled “books for older women,” I found lists of publications discussing the possibility of sex after sixty, beauty aids one can find in one’s refrigerator, and one entitled Get Your Balance Back with Yoga.  No novels except a few tepid romances for women of a certain old age. I know they are tepid because they are rated as warm, not hot, certainly not burning.
Then I Googled “Novels about older women” and found a list of books from a number of countries, most published before ebooks existed.  All but one were written by women. All for sale for one cent.  I ordered the six or so that sounded good, even though I didn’t recognize most the authors. The copyright dates stretched from the l960’s to 2006.  For many of those years I was changing diapers and going to PTA and not thinking about getting old, just getting through the day. 
I’ve read three of my new/old books and have scanned the rest. I love them. Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel, May Sarton’s As We are Now, Penelope Lively’s How It All Began are piled on the Find a Good Place for These Books corner of my desk. The other pile is teetering on the bedside table waiting for this evening when I turn on the bed light and choose one of them. 
What I’ve decided, with this research, is that my own three novels about old ladies are important contributions to the genre Literature for Older Women. I can only hope that one way or another women who are wondering what’s on the path ahead will find them and accept their messages of courageous exploration—on Amazon, on Kindle, or on the one-cent table of some internet book store. 

WAITING FOR THE PERFECT MOUNTAIN POSE

I’m waiting today, only capable of small deeds like removing the salon-thickened flesh-toned polish from my gnarly toes. I hadn’t noticed the growing-out white spaces and the chips because I don’t like to look at my toes very often. However, to fill my empty waiting hours, I went to a yoga class, and when the teacher pointed at my toes, I looked down. She wasn’t commenting on my nails’ color or lack of it. “Weight on the outside of the arch, Jo. Your ankles are falling in again.” Then she added, “Aim your buttocks toward your feet, not your waist.” I knew what she meant.  We go through this every yoga session.
It’s hopeful, her desire to straighten out my pigeon toes and sway back.  It means she believes in me despite my inability to stand in a perfect Mountain Pose.  It’s great to be believed in, despite my flaws.
I suppose that’s why I gathered the energy and the courage a few days ago to offer a group of friends free copies of my ebook, EDITH. They only had to promise to review the book. My instructions:  Be truthful, but don’t make me cry.
Twenty people have received EDITH. And now I’m waiting, waiting for their reviews.  It’s only been three days, but surely at least one of them couldn’t resist tearing into the story and was so impressed she sat right down let Amazon know of her amazed opinion. Right?
The sane, adult part of me knows that even for my best-friend-writer, I would not have put down my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list and my seasonal to-do self-mandates to respond to such a request in three days. Even if they liked parts of the book, most folks read slowly and write even more slowly.  I must be patient, breathe, practice mindfulness, as I’m always advising my husband to do.
This whole process is a little like going to yoga and being told to tuck your buttocks. Even though I thought they were already tucked, because of the care I heard in her voice, I tried, and I discovered I could tuck even more.  A perfect Mountain Pose may be within reach.  When she murmured, “Looks good,” I believed her.
Whatever my reviewers say, I will be grateful for their belief in my writing, in my ability to grow as a writer, for the “good jobs” that some will say to encourage me to keep working on the perfect writing Mountain Pose. 
So instead of lolling about in this lethargic Waiting Pose, I’m going to stop looking at my toes and go out to pick up the turkey waiting for me at Zupans, She has a good reason feel lethargic.

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