Learning to Drive
And Other Life Stories
By Katha Pollitt
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400063321, 224pp.)
Publication Date: September 4, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Celebrated for her award-winning political columns, criticism, and poetry, Katha Pollitt now shows us another side of her talent. Learning to Drive is a surprising, revealing, and entertaining collection of stories drawn from the author’s own life.
With deep feeling and sharp insight, Pollitt writes about the death of her father; the sad but noble final days of a leftist study group of which she was a member; and the betrayal and heartbreak inflicted by a man who seriously deceived her. (Her infinitely patient, gentle driving instructor points out her weakness–“Observation, Katha, observation!”) She also offers a candid view of her preoccupation with her ex-lover’s haunting presence on the Internet, and her search there for a secret link that might provide a revelation about him that will Explain Everything.
Other topics include the differences between women and men–“More than half the male members of the Donner party died of cold and starvation, but three quarters of the females survived, saved by that extra layer of fat we spend our lives trying to get rid of”–and the practical implications of political theory: “What if socialism–all that warmhearted folderol about community and solidarity and sharing was just an elaborate con job, a way for men to avoid supporting their kids?”
Learning to Drive demonstrates that while Katha Pollitt is undeniably one of our era’s most profound observers of culture, society, and politics, she is just as impressively a wise, graceful, and honest observer of her own and others’ human nature.
Katha Pollitt, the author of Virginity or Death!, is a poet, essayist, and columnist for The Nation. She has won many prizes and awards for her work, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for her first collection of poems, Antarctic Traveller, and two National Magazine Awards for essays and criticism. She lives in New York City.