Episode 11: Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

Episode 11: Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

The title character in Florence Gordon is a 75-year-old New Yorker, an intellectual and feminist who prides herself on being an independent cranky old lady. She had a "little flare of literary glory in the seventies" and has dwelled in relative obscurity ever since.  When the novel begins, Florence has recently published her sixth book. It receives a front-page rave review in the New York Times Book Review, which vaults Florence back into the public view.  The novel unfolds over the summer that follows, and expands to encompass the universe of Florence's son, Daniel, a police officer in Seattle, who is back in New York City for an extended vacation; her daughter-in-law Janine, a psychologist who thinks she may be in love with a colleague; and her granddaughter, Emily, an Oberlin drop-out who becomes Florence's research assistant.

Host Cyd Oppenheimer asks author Brian Morton about the challenges and dangers of a white male writing from the perspective of a feminist woman. For him, it was a no-brainer. "If you give up the effort to try to imagine what the world looks like from other people's points of view," Morton says, "you're not only giving up the effort to write fiction, you're giving up the effort to be a citizen of the world." 

Guest readers Sam Purdy and Shifra Sharlin, along with Oppenheimer, discuss their reactions to Florence as a character, whether ambition and decency can co-exist, and what constitutes courage.

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