Friday, February 24, 2012

FFB: Wilma Shore: WOMEN SHOULD BE ALLOWED: A Verbatim Report on the Imbroglio Between the Sexes (short stories) Dutton 1965

***This post has been slightly updated/corrected and combined with later posts on Shore's work at this link.

There are no images online (that I've found) for the cover of Women Should Be Allowed, the only collection of Wilma Shore's short fiction to be published during her life (or, ever)(on 28 November 2016, I've finally found one, along with a picture apparently of Shore with her husband Louis Solomon...see below. The jacket is a bit more cute than the fiction deserves, I'd suggest, and probably didn't help). My own second-(or third-)hand copy is missing its dust jacket, and there was no paperback edition, as far as I can tell. As the biography at the Jewish Women's Archive notes, she in 1929 as a 16yo left the US (having been born in NYC and spent high school years in California) and went to Paris to study painting, and "Leo Stein, Gertrude Stein’s brother, declared her a leading talent of her generation." However, as noted there, what she became, as a professional artist, was a writer.

She had made an apparently bad marriage to an actor in 1932, giving up painting as vocation at that time. 
had her first daughter, and by 1935 was married to writer and producer Louis Solomon, with whom she would have another daughter and with whom she wrote at least one radio script for The Orson Welles Almanac, "Something's Going to Happen to Henry" (12/1/41, as Welles's archivists date it). Meanwhile (quoting the JWA article):

'Shore’s second story "The Butcher" was included in The Best Short Stories of 1941, and she continued to receive their honor call [sic--honor roll] mention in subsequent years. Shore published widely in magazines, including The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, Story Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, The Writer, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Antioch Review, McCall's and The Nation. In 1950, her story “The Cow on the Roof” was included in the O. Henry Awards Prize Stories.'

She and Solomon continued to write for electronic media, and he became a fact, "Shore also wrote for television, was commissioned to write a song for Carol Channing, and had stories included in the anthology series The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1965 and 1973. She also published autobiographical pieces in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and the Women’s Studies Quarterly.

"A dedicated teacher, Shore taught at the League of American Writers' School from 1942 to 1944 and at the People’s Education Center until its dissolution. She then taught from her home.

"Shore’s involvement with these schools, her work on the editorial board of the California Quarterly, a politically progressive publication, and other left-wing political activity caused her and her husband to be blacklisted during the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings." Like most of the blacklisted, Shore and Solomon turned to other work, and also continued to work under other names in the blacklist-sensitive industries...Solomon was eventually a producer on The Great American Dream Machine for PBS.

Skipping ahead: a paid note in the New York Times, published May 12, 2006:

SOLOMON--Wilma Shore, 92. Writer, painter, wit and friend; wife of the late Lou Solomon; mother of Hilary Bendich, Berkeley, CA. and Dinah Stevenson, Hoboken, N.J; grandmother of Nora, Jonathan and Bridget; great grandmother of five; great great-grandmother of one. We welcome donations in her name to feminist, humane, or environmental organizations or those actively opposed to the Bush administration. A Memorial Gathering will be planned.

And, dated with the month of my birth, that first contribution to F&SF, the brilliant and gently caustic, if such a thing is possible, "Bulletin from the Trustees...", a story I first read ca. 1972 in my father's battered copy of Robert Silverberg's anthology Voyagers in Time. Meanwhile, note below the contents of that issue of F&SF, which include Shore's story as the lead, Fritz Leiber's important "When the Change Winds Blow" as the cover story, and early stories by Joanna Russ (her own gently caustic parody of Lovecraft) and Dennis Etchison (just after the start of his impressive career) and Thomas Disch (likewise). And editor Avram Davidson, noting the passing of artist and writer Hannes Bok, and otherwise brilliantly curating the issue (along with being my favorite writer on many days, his F&SF remains my favorite period of the magazine's long, impressive history).

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1964:

4 • Editorial (F&SF, August 1964) • [Editorial (F&SF)] • essay by Avram Davidson
5 • A Bulletin from the Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Research at Marmouth, Mass. • short story by Wilma Shore
12 • "I Had Vacantly Crumpled It into My Pocket . . . But By God, Eliot, It Was a Photograph from Life!" • [Cthulhu Mythos] • short story by Joanna Russ
22 • Books (F&SF, August 1964) • [Books (F&SF)] • essay by Avram Davidson
27 • Poor Planet • novelette by J. T. McIntosh
54 • Nada • short story by Thomas M. Disch
71 • Hannes Bok (Obit) • essay by Avram Davidson
72 • The Red Cells • [The Science Springboard] • essay by Theodore L. Thomas
73 • Epitaph for the Future • poem by Ethan Ayer
74 • A Nice, Shady Place • (1963) • short story by Dennis Etchison (Originally published in Associated Students, L.A. State College)
87 • Redman • short story by Robert Lipsyte and Thomas Rogers [as by Robert M. Lipsyte and Thomas Rogers]
95 • The Days of Our Years • [Asimov's Essays: F&SF] • essay by Isaac Asimov
105 • When the Change-Winds Blow • short story by Fritz Leiber
113 • In the Calendar of Saints • short story by Leonard Tushnet

You can now read several short stories, the cited radio play (or listen to it), and a couple of articles (so far) at a new post here.

The next year, E. P. Dutton published Women Should Be Allowed, which includes the following stories, each with a long introduction in which Shore archly, wittily highlights a point or three the following story might support, mostly feminist points in those months after The Female Mystique and the Civil Rights Act and the ferment around the liberation movements of the previous decade-plus had no doubt given Shore at least some new hope, thus:

"A Mammal in a Black Crepe Dress" (published as "The Point of No Return of Gloria MacAdoo" in Good Housekeeping in 1957)

"All Sales Final" (as "The Dress from Bergdorf’s" (ss) Cosmopolitan Jun 1959)
"By the Still Waters of Ethel Wilkie" (as "Do You Take This Man?" GH 1955)
"Go and Catch a Falling Star" (Good Housekeeping Aug 1949)
"The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" (apparently first published in this collection)
"Some Kind of Lousy Cinderella" (as "It Was Different with Cinderella" (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Aug 24 1963)
"Good-bye Charlie" (as "What's Happened to Charlie?" GH, 1957)
"Yours Very Truly, (Miss) Leona Freemantle" (Antioch Review, 1960)
"I Can Get Along Fine" (as "I'll Get Along Fine" GH 1946)
"A Reasonable Facsimile" (as "Marry Me a Million" (ss) Cosmopolitan Feb 1949)
"May Your Days Be Merry and Bright" (The Saturday Evening Post Dec 21 1963)
"The Whole World Takes Off Its Hat to Sheree Wallach" (Ladies Home Journal May 1961)

--as the book's subtitle might suggest, the collection stands in at least partial refutation of the likes of James Thurber (and what might be called default attitude at The New Yorker and around the popular culture), and these stories, with their feminist messages unblunted by their titles being fiddled with by the women's magazines they were published in (when not the Saturday Evening Post or a little magazine), often cheek by jowl with their era's equivalents of today's "service" articles "How to Suppress Everything About Yourself to Snare That Man!" and "Why You Should Give In, For the Sake of the Marriage" and "How to Subvert the Fool without Him Catching On..." as well as more openly or tacitly feminist items, feature in most cases not so very enlightened young women learning better...about their current conditions, about the loutish swains they have been putting up with (and the often just as loutish if more polished men they aspire to) and their own often corrosively unsupportive families; about what really matters as opposed to Why It's Important to Be Married by 25 (though her characters almost to a woman do bristle, however subconsciously in some cases, at the notion that they need to be Safely Ensconced in marriage before they have had much chance to figure out what they need for themselves, while their potential mates have at least a decade or so more to come to some similar conclusions). A few stories deviate from this pattern, such as "May Your Days Be Merry and Bright," from the perspective of an empathetic woman in a retirement hotel, comparable to the upscale condo communities of today, watching the interactions of her colleagues and their families, the little power-plays and jostling for prestige--or the most savagely critical piece here of its female protagonist, "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life," about a boundary-free monster of ego and how she blithely "improves" the lives of her husband, son, and everyone else around her. Even the canniest of young women protagonists here, that of "A Reasonable Facsimile," finds her utter pragmatism in the face of Women's Estate in midcentury NYC shaken, probably if unsettlingly for the better, by the end of her story.

Wilma Shore was a hell of a writer, and her work richly rewards your attention. I probably should add to this critique, but I've my own pragmatic quotidian matters to attend to...though another, comparable writer I've not written well or enough about previously, Carol Emshwiller, is treated a bit more elegantly by James Sallis here.

Meanwhile, going to the FM Index at the link below and clicking through to the magazine issue contents, often seeing the context in which these satiric feminist stories were published (and often how much other fiction was published, even rather recently but not recently enough, by the women's magazines particularly, with Shore sharing space thus with John D. MacDonald and Daphne Du Maurier and A. A. Milne and Hughes Rudd and Hugh B. Cave, is another reminder of Times Changing).

from the FictionMags Index

SHORE, WILMA (1913- ) (chron.)

* The Butcher, (ss) Story Nov/Dec 1940

* Dress from Bergdorf’s, (ss) Cosmopolitan Jun 1959
* Go and Catch a Falling Star, (ss) Good Housekeeping Aug 1949
* It Was Different with Cinderella, (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Aug 24 1963
* Lock Stock and Barrel, (ss) Short Story Magazine #78 1951
* Marry Me a Million, (ss) Cosmopolitan Feb 1949
* May Your Days Be Merry and Bright, (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Dec 21 1963
* The Moon Belongs to Everyone, (ss) Short Story Magazine #70 1950
* The Ostrich Farm, (ss) Short Story Magazine #71 1950
* Someday I Have to Buy a Hat, (ss) Good Housekeeping Nov 1942
* Something of Her Own, (ss) McCall’s Mar 1944
* The Whole World Takes Off Its Hat to Sheree Wallach, (ss) Ladies Home Journal May 1961

From ISFDb:

Legal Name: Solomon, Wilma Shore
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Birthdate: 12 October 1913
Deathdate: May 2006

Short fiction (in sf/fantasy magazines):

A Bulletin from the Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Research at Marmouth, Mass. (1964) (F&SF, 8/64)
Goodbye Amanda Jean (1970) (Galaxy, 7/70)
Is It the End of the World? (1972) (F&SF, 3/72)
The Podiatrist's Tale (1977) (F&SF, 4/77)

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Wilma Shore contributions to The New Yorker (unless you're a subscriber, they want to charge you extra).


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, I did not know about Wilma Shore. It was interesting to read about her life and work.

Todd Mason said...

Sadly, Prashant, she's too little-read now...and was while she was at her most productive, as well.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I don;t think I have ever read anything by her Todd, for shame. Thanks for the insightful coverage, as ever.

Todd Mason said...

Not at all, Sergio...thank you.

Alan Brennert said...

One of Shore's most chilling stories is "Goodbye Amanda Jean," originally in GALAXY and reprinted in Robert Silverberg's ALPHA 2. For my money it's on a par with Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."

Todd Mason said...

Thanks for the pointer...I've been meaning to look that one up. Her talent is very comparable to Jackson's.