Susan Cheever Elizabeth Fox-Genovese - Essay

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Susan Cheever in Looking for Work] has the stylistic control and cheek of the trendiest New York magazines. And, leaning towards the surface brilliance and plush familiarity of high-budget films (one thinks of An Unmarried Woman), she paints the cheery saga of a spoiled, upper-middle-class brat who marries the wrong guy (no class, ethnic, or major psychological complications here, just the first guy you marry on your way into the world), has an affair, and finally gets ready for a steady job—which, of course, she finds. There is no indication that the "work" of the title is to be taken with the seriousness a Gail Godwin takes it. Cheever's heroine goes to Newsweek to work on the intellectual assembly line. But she mingles with the right people (whom, because of her parents, she knew or could have known all along) and goes to a lot of nifty parties. She has simply learned that she no longer requires a man to foot the bills. Class does have its advantages.

Looking for Work may provide an ominously correct sign of where our female literary culture is going. (p. 215)

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, "The New Female Literary Culture," in The Antioch Review (copyright © 1980 by the Antioch Review Inc.; reprinted by permission of the Editors), Vol. 38, No. 2, Spring, 1980, pp. 193-217.∗