Over the past 35 years
I've written young adult novels, essays, newspaper columns, magazine articles, humor books, and public radio commentaries. It's interesting — maybe even therapeutic — for me to pull much of this work together on a website.
My most recent novel is Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough. The book is about three generations of women living under one roof – so it’s kind of a horror story, as you can imagine. More than anything, it’s about the complexity, craziness and humor of the mother-daughter relationship. It’s about how you can live very closely with other people – even people you love – and still have no idea what’s going on with their lives since you’re so focused on your own hopes and sorrows and private dramas. You should buy several copies right now at Amazon.com.
This year, I've written Pucker Up!: The Subversive Woman's Guide to Aging with Wit, Wine, Drama, Humor, Perspective, and the Occasional Good Cry with the wonderful artist and cartoonist, Marian Henley. Marian and I have been friends for almost 20 years, and it’s been a delight to work with someone whose work I admire so much. Together, we’ve created a book about the joys, sorrows, sheer slapstick comedy, and occasional terrors of aging – and how to do it as well as you can.
Pucker Up! is the kind of book we would have bought for ourselves or for our friends, but we couldn’t find it on the shelves. We had to create it on our own, out of our own experiences and flights of fancy. Please buy it and find out why we're so excited about it.
In the meantime, I also blog at Love, CocoXO. I hope you will join me there.
-- Ruth Pennebaker
Ruth Pennebaker writes letters to her new granddaughter Ellie at Love, CocoXO. As Ruth puts it: "The blog is about what I’ve learned over the years, where our family came from, what it’s like to be a woman in this whacked-out world, what I think is important, what I think is pure swill." She also requests that, if she ever gets preachy in the blog, someone should cut off her oxygen supply.
Listen to Ruth Pennebaker speak about:
Her novel, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough:
Snappy Quotes from Ruth Pennebaker, in case Bartlett's is Interested
ON NEUROTICISM: I was just born this way — one of those canaries they use in mine shafts that drop dead when dangerous gases are leaking out. Great system for the miners, but it kind of sucks to be the bird.
ON FAITH HEALING: I even relied on Oral Roberts once to heal my eyes. He was on TV, empowering the lame to walk, the bent to straighten, the drunk to sober up, but evidently couldn't bother with a 10-year-old girl who had an astigmatism. Listen, you lose your faith at crucial moments like that.
ON AGING: As usual, I pondered this whole aging dilemma in a very confused way, wondering why I'm far happier than I was when I was younger, but Iím still not that enthusiastic about crow's feet and imminent death and ageist condescension from smart-alecky teenage store clerks who are going to be really sorry when all their tattoos are wrinkled, ha, ha, ha.
ON TEXAS WOMEN'S VOICES: Voices that are soft and low, an excellent thing in a woman, have rarely been observed in a gathering of two or more Texas women.
ON PERSPECTIVE: My husband worries about immortality. I worry about next week.
ON MIDDLE-AGED CENTERFOLDS: You know what? This isnít about looking good for your age. Itís about looking good for your daughterís age.
ON FASHION: Iíll give you a tip. My personal acid test is: If I wear this, will I have to hold in my stomach?
ON HOLIDAY NEWSLETTERS: Stop bragging about your kids. Many important psychological studies have shown that children whose parents yak about them in their annual newsletters suffer from tragically low self-esteem, a startlingly high rate of acne, bad posture, twitching and hats worn backward and, worst of all, they have no chance whatsoever of getting into an Ivy League school.
ON HOLLYWOOD CASTING: I can do math. When a woman is in her 40s or 50s, her romantic lead needs to be 30 years older. So, if I go to Hollywood and become a movie actress at my age, the only men I could co-star with are already dead.
ON JOINING A SOCCER TEAM: Iíll never forget the first time we lined up on the field for our very first game, facing the other team eyeball-to-eyeball. This is emblazoned in my memory as the only time in my life I wished I weighed more.
ON SARAH PALIN: Somebody, I think morosely, staring at the TV, the beehive, the blankly moronic gaze through the glasses, is going to have to do something about Palinís accent. The word ďgratingĒ only begins to convey how truly awful it is. Pass the Pepto-Bismol and splash it on the rocks. Make it a double, baby. Iím in pain.