‘‘You’re Ugly, Too’’ is a much more character-driven story than it is a plot-driven one. With a sparse plot, but layered with anecdotes and flashbacks that reveal the main character to be cynical and dismissive in her relationships with nearly everyone in her life, especially men, the story offers a glimpse into the thoughts and daily life of an unmarried Midwestern history professor who flies to Manhattan to spend Halloween weekend with her younger sister.
Although narrated in the third person, ‘‘You’re Ugly, Too’’ is told from the point of view of Zoë Hendricks who, when the story opens, has been teaching at Midwest colleges for four years. Her first teaching stint was in New Geneva, Minnesota, or ‘‘Land of the Dying Shopping Mall’’ where ‘‘[e]veryone was so blond . . . that brunettes were often presumed to be from foreign countries.’’ Her liberal arts students in Paris, Illinois, where she currently teaches—‘‘by and large good Midwesterners, spacey with estrogen from large quantities of meat and cheese . . . [who share] their parents’ suburban values . . . [and who seem] to know very little about anything. . . . ’’—do not fare much better in her eyes. Known for her eccentric behavior— students complain about her singing in class, for instance, and when asked by one student what perfume she is wearing, Hendricks replies, ‘‘Room freshener’’—she is tolerated by her ‘‘department of nine men. . . .’’ After all, the department had recently faced a sex-discrimination suit and the men are in need of a ‘‘feminine touch to the corridors.’’
Hendricks lives alone in Paris and has had poor luck in meeting men. Of the three men she has dated since moving to the Midwest, the first was a Paris bureaucrat who surveyed his own pectorals while driving and who became incensed when she brushed an ant onto his car floor....
(The entire section is 782 words.)