By Chet Yarbrough
The Power Notebooks
By Katie Roiphe
Narrated by: Katie Roiphe
Katie Roiphe (Author, critic, tenured professor at New York University.)
“The Power of Notebooks” is a memoir of Roiphe’s life between the age of fifteen and fifty. Her first love affair is with a Rabbi when she is fifteen. On the one hand, Roiphe notes the inappropriateness of the Rabbi’s seduction; on the other, she implies a level of guilt for the affair. Roiphe is married and divorced twice and has two children which she mostly raises as a single parent. Her father was a psychoanalyst and her mother, Anne Roiphe, is an American writer and journalist.
To borrow a phrase and title of a well-known book, this memoir is of a woman who is “Naked and Unafraid”.
Though labeling is fraught with misrepresentation, Katie Roiphe is a feminist. She is an advocate for women’s rights and equality of the sexes but questions the veracity of “me to” in the world of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. One doubts Roiphe would not vilify Weinstein’s and Epstein’s behavior but “The Power Notebooks” implies extreme behavior is not a reflection of society in general.
In “The Power Notebooks” Roiphe’s strident voice reflects on her life as an independent woman. She chooses her friends, lovers, and fellow writers based on a qualification of not caring about who you do, or what you do. Roiphe writes about what she did and what she believes.
Roiphe notes how some question her role as a single parent raising two children on her own. It is not a concern of Roiphe’s, and one wonders why anyone would question that circumstance in the 21st century.
Roiphe examines her relationship with men whom she neither depends on nor expects will be dependent on her. It is not that she does not fall in love, but that love is not all there is to a relationship.
Relationship is always a work in progress and if there is no progress, relationships end.
Roiphe expresses the same concern of all working parents in being concerned about job security. She explains how she successfully gains tenure at a university which assures continued employment. In a way, there is a disingenuousness in that employment concern considering the professional status of her family. However, Roiphe shows herself to be a highly independent woman who seems unlikely to seek help from anyone in living the life she chooses.
“The Power Notebooks” shows there is only one difference between the sexes. Women give birth, men do not. Roiphe could be telling anyone’s story, male or female, if they were not reluctant to be “Naked and Unafraid”.