Perhaps no one has written more acutely and poignantly about the ways in which women compensate for their relative physiological inferiority, about the poetic and practical implications of walking around the world deficient in hemoglobin, deficient in respiratory capacity, deficient in muscular strength and deficient in stability of the vascular and autonomic nervous systems. "Any woman who has ever had her wrist twisted by a man recognizes a fact of nature as humbling as a cyclone to a frail tree branch," she observed in an essay on Simone de Beauvoir some years ago, an assertion of "woman's difference" at once so explicit and so obscurely shameful that it sticks like a burr in one's capacity for wishful thinking. "There was a man who brought me my first pair of reading glasses, which I did not need," the narrator of Sleepless Nights tells us by way of introducing the Southerner ("intellectual in the University of Virginia manner") with whom she had her first affair. We deceive ourselves in thinking that we do not all accept such reading glasses.
Review by Joan Didion of Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick, New York Times Book Review, April 29, 1979.
For men with blood on their hands, men stained by the butchery of combat, the real fight for survival starts when the guns grow silent. For us, suicide is a chronic afterthought, a dark idea that follows dark memories. Most of us resist the incessant impulse to destroy ourselves, but many of our comrades, too many, do not. They lose the war long after the fighting has stopped.
from Coming Home by Michael Norman, about Lewis B. Puller, Jr. in The New York Times Magazine, Jan. 1, 1995, p. 34.