In five words, tell us about your book “If You Lean In”: Hilarious, provocative, edgy, joyful, and timely.
Where did the idea come from to write this particular book? When I read about how women need to “lean in,” I realized that what we really needed to go was to stand up and make trouble– and to make sure that we were having fun along the way.
What’s your writing/editing/publishing process like? I write everywhere all the time, on post-its, napkins, and on the backs of receipts. I always have a notebook, but I don’t even need a notebook because I can write on any surface, any way. I usually start by handwriting notes, and notes become paragraphs, paragraphs become essays, and essays become chapters. They often appear as columns, and I know I’ve really done my work well when I hear back from readers. That’s the most satisfying part of the whole process.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I prefer whatever gets the book into the hands of readers.
If you could meet any author, who would it be? I have a triumvirate: Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Parker, and Stephen King.
Do you find the social media to be a help or a hinder? Social media allows me to keep in touch with folks that I don’t get to see in person very often, and at the best of times it can provide a real intellectual and creative community. I often put the topic that I am writing about for a column up on Facebook and ask people for their responses; I’ve been delighted and honored that many, many folks enjoy being part of the discussion. I’ve enjoyed this so much, in fact, that we’ve come up with the hashtag: #loudsmartwomen for anyone who wants to get in on the action.
Describe a typical day in your life: Coffee and breakfast while reading the Hartford Courant, where my columns are first published, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times– I’ll admit to skimming all of these, and saving the articles that I want to read for later. On the days that I teach, I head into my office at UConn (where I’ve been since 1987, working as an English professor) where I go to my basement office, where we have to look up to get to street level, and where I am next to the restroom and the candy machine, but where also I work with my brilliant assistant Krissy and wonderful undergraduate students on a daily basis. On the days that I teach, I leave at 9PM because I teach in the evening, and on other days, I might either come into work or spend the day reading, writing, and grading at home. My husband and I have dinner together most nights– I cook– and I do a lot of my writing either at the kitchen table or up in my office.
What are you currently reading? I’m reading Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw because I’m teaching it, Dinosaurs in a Haystack by Stephen Jay Gould, and Fay Weldon’s Long Live the King.
Every author must have (a): tribe of folks who will give her an honest response about what works and what doesn’t in her writing.
Do you have any writing rituals? Nope, none. But don’t ask me what I have to do to make myself get on an airplane.
What do you want you readers to take away from your books? A renewed sense of courage, audacity, and playfulness.
What are you working on right now? Getting my brand new book into the hands of readers.
“If you Lean In” by Gina Barreca
Blurb: Gina Barreca is fed up with women who lean in, but don’t open their mouths. In her latest collection of essays, she turns her attention to subjects like bondage which she notes now seems to come in fifty shades of grey and has been renamed Spanx. She muses on those lessons learned in Kindergarten that every woman must unlearn like not having to hold the hand of the person you’re waking next to (especially if he’s a bad boyfriend) or needing to have milk, cookies and a nap every day at 3:00 PM (which tends to sap one’s energy not to mention what it does to one’s waistline). She sounds off about all those things a woman hates to hear from a man like “Calm down” or “Next time, try buying shoes that fit”. “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” is about getting loud, getting love, getting ahead and getting the first draw (or the last shot). Here are tips, lessons and bold confessions about bad boyfriends at any age, about friends we love and ones we can’t stand anymore, about waist size and wasted time, about panic, placebos, placentas and certain kinds of not-so adorable paternalism attached to certain kinds of politicians. The world is kept lively by loud women talking and “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” cheers and challenges those voices to come together and speak up. You think she’s kidding? Oh, boy, do you have another thing coming.
“We don’t want to settle down anymore; we’ve been settled, like some western township, and now we want to kick up the dust and tear down the fences. Not only won’t we settle down; we also won’t settle for less than what we’ve always wanted: a good time and a fair fight.”