In yesterday’s Sunday Styles section of The New York Times, I wrote a profile of Stephanie Dolgoff, author of the forthcoming book, Formerly Hot: Dispatches from Just This Side of Young. The book is hilarious and the author is completely charming. I found the comments about the article to be very interesting — many people seemed to react to the fact that Ms. Dolgoff cares about the way she looks to mean that she only cares about the way she looks.
This is a phenomenon that I encounter frequently when I write, whether it’s an article or a book. Let’s take some of my writing about sexuality: If I write an article about a particular study, readers will ask, Why didn’t you write about this other study? If I write a book about heterosexual pornography, people ask, why didn’t you write about homosexual pornography? If I write an article about a lesbian couple’s struggle to adopt a child in West Virginia, people ask, why didn’t you write about the difficulties of gay adoption in Florida?
These are all valid questions, but the limitation of any story or book is that you can only write so much — that as journalists and authors, we have to draw the line somewhere, or we’d end up with 10,000 word articles all the time (which we, as writers, would love but readers probably wouldn’t) and with 500-page books (which we, as writers, would hate and readers would too — not that there’s anything wrong with 500 page books, but I’ll leave that to Robert Caro and Robert K. Massie).
In this case, I wrote about Ms. Dolgoff’s interest in the implications of aging (but not aging that much) on what you wear and how you look. It’s an interesting issue, and one I think Ms. Dolgoff addresses interestingly — and hilariously — in her book.