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  • Charles Arrowsmith

Review: A Left-Handed Woman by Judith Thurman (LA Times)


Like one in 10 people, Judith Thurman writes with her left hand. This “used to be considered a malign aberration,” she points out in the introduction to her new essay collection; even when she was a girl, in the McCarthyist 1950s, there were social disadvantages (of more than one kind) to being a “leftie.” Yet this now-unremarkable token of difference seems to have instilled in her a lasting affinity for people — especially women — who, in their lives and careers, have been vilified for swimming against the current.


Extraordinary and unconventional women have long been the object of Thurman’s forensic gaze. A biography of Isak Dinesen won her the National Book Award in 1983; her life of Colette, in 1999, was a nominee. “Cleopatra’s Nose,” her first collection of essays from the New Yorker, where she’s a staff writer, included insightful pieces on Anne Frank, Jackie Kennedy and Toni Morrison. In the new book “A Left-Handed Woman,” her subjects are brought to life as complex, even cryptic characters. “The mystery of how we become who we are” is her enduring preoccupation — an enigma whose sanctity she succeeds in preserving even as she unravels it.


For the full review, visit The Los Angeles Times.

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