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Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D.
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I just ordered Ozark Trilogy by Suzette Haden Elgin from Amazon.com. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the interaction between men and women and in women's lives. It definitely is not science fiction, though it was offered over 20 years ago through the Science Fiction Book Club. Nor is it fantasy, though I have often seen it listed under that rubric.

Perhaps it would best be described as alternate history, since the characters and the story move within the framework of "what if" certain factors in our social and personal lives, as well as our social history, had been different, thus and so.

The author has a wicked sense of humor and a lively understanding of people and the motives which underlie their actions. Not to mention which, the trilogy has three great stories. Dr. Elgin (notice her initials are SHE) lives in the Ozarks and her books evince the authentic language of women and the mountains, though her books are not written in the awful way some authors have of trying to write dialect. The word usage and cadence are what carry you along and sing to your ears.

Another fiction offering from her is Native Tongue. No description because I don't want to spoil it. Read it!

Dr. Elgin has also written many non-fiction books. The first one I read was called The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. It's well worth reading and has a permanent place on my bookshelf, though I keep giving it away and buying another. At the moment there's a gap where another copy will go when I replace it, if the person who borrowed it doesn't return it. I don't blame them; it's insightful and even life-altering.

At the moment I'm reading her Staying Well with the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. All of her work looks at language and how it is used to communicate, block understanding or facilitate it, confuse or elucidate a problem, obfuscate or clarify an issue. How we talk to each other, what subtext the language carries and how we can become aware of the tools we all learn in childhood and how to use them more effectively--these are common themes in her work.

Again, well worth reading, and though scholarly, not a bit boring or pedantic.

One thing I learned from her that has stayed with me for many years and served me well: How to distinguish between a serious medical condition needing a the services of a health professional versus transient physical discomfort, self-healing body aches and pains.

If I'm not feeling well, I turn to an activity that usually absorbs my attention; one that I can "lose" myself in, what is often called "flow". If the physical malady intrudes and distracts me from the activity or even prevents me from doing it at all, then it's time to seek professional help. Because ordinary aches and pains will go under the radar when doing something truly interesting and absorbing. Serious conditions won't.

And it has worked reliably for me for many years.

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