‘On Being a Woman’ the first in new series
Ryan Summerlin January 31, 2013
It’s “a new anthology for a new century” – at least, that’s how creators Dahlynn and Ken McKowen are billing “Not Your Mother’s Book,” a series they launched after making the move from a career as freelancers, ghostwriters and consultants/coauthors on the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series to a full-service publishing house in 2011.
The first book in the new Publishing Syndicate NYMB series – which compiles stories from “people like you” and compensates authors whose work is selected – is titled “On Being a Woman” (October 2012).
Among the collection of approximately 65 stories, I found some hip and funny, like “Battle-Dressed Breasts” by Laurel McHargue, which tells the true tale of three female soldiers on assignment who were mobbed in the bathroom by a group of elderly South Korean women, shouting and telling them to get out, in a case of mistaken identity. It is not until McHargue figures out what’s going on, pulls off her hat, grabs her chest and shakes her breasts at the women to convince them of her femininity that the attack stops, at which point both soldiers and villagers break into uproarious laughter.
Or Dianna Graveman’s “Cream or Sugar?” story, in which a daughter makes her prude mother, who was raised on the sentiments of a bygone era, increasingly uncomfortable by doing things like saying “vagina” out loud, by breast-feeding instead of using formula and ultimately by nursing in public. Then, while doing so over breakfast at a restaurant, an unlikely series of events come to pass in which the daughter accidentally sprays breast milk at a waitress holding a tray at their table, and some of it drops into the coffee. Again the real life characters double over in laughter – the daughter, the waitress and yes, the mother too. From that point on, it became a running joke at breast-feeding time, where her mum would giggle and say, “Be careful, now, or you might get a little extra cream in your coffee.”
Then there are stories like “Sarong, So Right,” by Debra Ayers Brown, that might be a little less hilarious, but still strike a chord, in this case with those of us who dread shopping for bathing suits. While shopping with her grown-up daughter, the mother, now older and 10 pounds heavier than in her heyday, finally finds a bathing suit that will work in front, but she still doesn’t like how it frames her “derriere.” Her daughter suggests a sarong, and it’s the perfect solution. Then comes the punch line: “Then brilliance struck this middle-aged beauty, at last happy with herself and her swimsuit selection: ‘Before it was sa-rong,’ I joked, ‘and now it’s so right.'” Zinger!
For women – or men, I guess – who enjoy women’s topics like boobs, bras, menstruation, menopause, shopping, husbands, Hooters, waxing, vaginas, mothers, daughters, Weight Watchers and gynecologists – the work compiled in “On Being a Woman” offers lighthearted takes on sometimes daring topics that make for a fun and easy read.
Never mind the title; now that I’m done reviewing “Not Your Mother’s Book: On Being a Woman,” I’m going to give this book to my mom. Find it for $16.95 at Amazon and other booksellers.
The publishers also have new NYMB titles, “On Being a Stupid Kid” (“all those dumb things us Baby Boomers did as kids,” Dahlynn McKowen wrote) and NYMB “On Dogs” out now.