Natalie Daher | Longreads | April 2018 | 15 minutes (4,014 words)
The subjects of cultural critic Michelle Dean’s new book Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion — including Dorothy Parker, Janet Malcolm, Joan Didion and Nora Ephron — have appeared in Dean’s writing and interviews again and again over the years. It’s not difficult to see how Dean would develop a fascination with opinionated women — she is one herself. Lawyer-turned-crime reporter, literary critic, and Gawker alumnus, Michelle Dean’s has had her own “sharp” opinions on topics ranging from fashion to politics, from #MeToo to the Amityville Horror.
The book is more than just a series of biographical sketches. Dean is fascinated by the connections between these literary women — their real-life relationships, their debates, and the ways they were pitted against each other in a male-dominated field.
We spoke by phone between New York and Los Angeles and discussed writing about famous writers, the media, editors, and feminism.