Books: Postfeminism: Playing for Keeps

From novels to humor, women are moving beyond doctrine

At the end of the 1970s, Joyce Carol Gates was hardly alone in wishing for more than a feminist monotone from a number of American women writers. "I anticipate, in my idealism," she wrote in a 1980 contemplation of the future, "novels by women that are not women's novels."

The waiting is over. While some, like Marilyn French (The Women's Room), continue to dissect the feminine psyche and situation, a growing cadre of women has enlarged and honored the literary mainstream. Their books, characterized by...

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