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Cover for From Curlers to Chainsaws

From Curlers to Chainsaws

Women and Their Machines

Joyce Dyer (Editor), Jennifer Cognard-Black (Editor), Elizabeth MacLeod Walls (Editor)


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The twenty-three distinguished writers included in From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women and Their Machines invite machines into their lives and onto the page. In every room and landscape these writers occupy, gadgets that both stir and stymie may be found: a Singer sewing machine, a stove, a gun, a vibrator, a prosthetic limb, a tractor, a Dodge Dart, a microphone, a smartphone, a stapler, a No. 1 pencil and, of course, a curling iron and a chainsaw.
From Curlers to Chainsaws is a groundbreaking collection of lyrical and illuminating essays about the serious, silly, seductive, and sometimes sorrowful relationships between women and their machines. This collection explores in depth objects we sometimes take for granted, focusing not only on their functions but also on their powers to inform identity.
For each writer, the device moves beyond the functional to become a symbolic extension of the writer’s own mind—altering and deepening each woman’s concept of herself.

Praise For From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women and Their Machines

In the old analog days, one knew better than to use a mechanical calculator to divide a whole number by zero. The machine would tear itself apart looking for the right answer in the cogs and gears of the endless stuttering. The toothsome essays found in From Curlers to Chainsaws propel themselves through the same worrying transmission, discover relentlessly revved and ready answers in the existential engineering of our everyday appliances and devices. These are works of stunning effort and raw oomph. These writers ratchet and roll, calculate and calibrate. They enter elegantly the number of ways nothing goes into the infinite.
Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and Winesburg, Indiana

From Curlers to Chainsaws makes stops along the way to visit prosthetics, lawnmowers, typewriters, vibrators, washing machines, and on and on, from traditional women’s gear to equipment we’re all using now, praise be. This is a book full of mechanized pleasures and frustrations unto torture, but more important, a book of women’s voices so clear and diverse and funny and heartbreakingly individual that you hurry from one to the next, even as you wish to linger longer with all. A smart and useful and wise anthology, this is an entertainment to be cherished and a resource to be treasured.
Bill Roorbach, author of Life among Giants, Temple Stream, and The Remedy for Love

Michigan State University Press, 9781611861907, 335pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 2016

About the Author

Joyce Dyer is professor emerita of English at Hiram College.
Jennifer Cognard-Black is professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Elizabeth Macleod Walls is dean of University College and teaches at Nebraska Wesleyan University.