December 7, 2009


Knapp, Caroline, Appetites: Why Women Want (New York: Counterpoint, 2003) (“By all accounts, I should feel free and entitled on the appetite front as anyone. . . . And yet by the age of twenty-one, I’d found myself whittled down to skeletal form, my whole being oriented toward the denial of appetite. And at forty-two, my current age, I can still find myself lingering at the periphery of desire, peering through those doors from what often feels like a great distance, not always certain whether it’s okay to march on in.” “That story, with its implicit conflict between the internal and external worlds, is in essence the story of appetite. It’s about the anxiety that crops up alongside new, untested freedoms, and the guilt that’s aroused when a woman tests old and deeply entrenched rules about gender and femininity. It’s about the collision between self and culture, female desire unleashed in a world that’s still deeply ambivalent about female power and that manages to whet appetite and shame it in equal measure. It’s about the difficulty a woman may have feeling connected to her own body and her own desires in an increasingly visual and commercial world, a place where the female form is so mercilessly externalized and where conceptions of female desire are so narrowly framed. It it’s about the durability of traditional psychic and social structure, about how the seeds of self-denial are still planted and encouraged in girls, about how forty years of legal and social change have not yet nurtured a truly alternative hybrid, one that would flower into feelings of agency and initiative, into the conviction that one’s appetites are good and valid and deserve to be satisfied in healthy and reasonable ways.” Id. at 19-20.).

Knapp, Caroline, Drinking: A Love Story (New York: The Dial Press, 1996) (“Of course, the problem with self-transformation is that after a while, you don’t know which version of yourself to believe in, which one is true. I was the hardened, cynical version of me when I was with James and Elaine, and I was the connected, intimate version of me when I was with Sam, and I was the genteel, sophisticated version of me when I was with my relatives, and honestly, after a while I didn’t know which was which, where one began or ended, whether the versions existed authentically within me or whether they needed outside people and circumstances to kick them into gear. For years my therapist said to me, ‘Sit with the feelings. What happens when you just sit still, by yourself? What happens when you just sit with the feelings?’ I suppose he was trying to get at those very questions: What kind of person was I, really? What was I afraid of, angry about? Who was I when I didn’t have other people to cue into? I couldn’t answer, of course, because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit still for ten minutes without a drink. Without the anesthesia; I really couldn’t. Id. at 69-70.).

Knapp, Caroline, Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs (New York: The Dial Press, 1998) (The author and this book came up during a recent dinner conversation, so I obtained a used copy. Upon receiving the book, I thumbed through it and came across the following penciled-in on the inside back cover: “Out in the world with her I have found a path to others. At home with her, I have found a away to be alone without the ache.” And below that: “Dogs are children that do not grow up.”).