Understanding Women: A Novel
It’s 1956, and James Robert (Jimbo) Proctor has just turned sixteen when his Uncle Waylan and his new wife Vicky invite Jimbo to spend a summer toiling in the New Mexico oil patch. Jimbo dreams that heaving heavy metal about will serve as well as a Charles Atlas course to make a man of him, but he lands smack dab in a domestic fracas that has his uncle living in his machine shop and sneaking out with Sharon, his secretary.
Meanwhile Jimbo’s Aunt Vicky leads a protest against a fundamentalist book ban and rails against American H-bomb tests on Bikini. James sets out to solve the case of what he calls The Hardy Boy and the Mystery of the Marital Estrangement, but when he meets Sharon's cousin, Trudy, and plummets into love himself, the mystery of what brings men and women together or keeps them apart only deepens into confusion and torment.
And James has more to learn than why we love and how we earn a mate both deserved and deserving. He’s coming of age in a pivotal year in an era of repression and transition: the Brown decision, hardly two years old, meets die-hard resistance among segregationists; Rosa Parks has just refused to take a back seat; playwright Arthur Miller marries Marilyn Monroe and gets a contempt citation from the House Un-American Activities Committee; Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver lose in a landslide to Ike and Dick Nixon; Ed Sullivan claims he’ll never let "Elvis the Pelvis” on his TV show; and a southern senator warns Americans against the insidious influence of "foreign” films. In Jimbo’s hometown of Dallas, right-wing complaints of "Red” artists succeed in censoring a traveling art show sponsored by the United States Information Agency; civil defense drills sweep the nation to prepare Americans for nuclear war; sponsor General Electric withdraws an episode of the wildly popular drama "Medic” because it reveals too much about a Caesarean section; and abortions are so forbidden even descriptions of them are stricken from books.
How such things--things he might’ve thought remote and irrelevant--come to bear heavily on his green life is the thrust of his summer's education, and he leaves New Mexico on the cusp not so much of manhood but of adult responsibility.
What people are saying - Write a review
Understanding women: a novelUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Sixteen-year-old Jimbo Proctor spends the summer of 1956 learning about life. Having accepted his uncle Waylon's offer to work in the oil fields of New Mexico, he becomes enmeshed in Waylon's marital ... Read full review
Other editions - View all
ain't Arthur Miller asked aspirin Aunt Vicky bathroom bola tie bottle called Charles Atlas cheek chile rellenos cigarette Coach Pustley Coke Cotton damn Deputy Darling desk door Dumas eyes face father feel felt girl glass goddamnit going gonna grinned guess hair hand happened head hear heard Hedorville Helen hell hope Jack McIntyre James Jimbo kids kiss Kneu knew laughed leaned legs lips looked married mesquite mother murmured Navy Cross never nice night Noreen Okay Pete Peyton Place Ruidoso seat seemed Sharon shirt shoulder sitting Slim smiled smoking sorry stood sure Swamp Thing talk tell there's thigh thing thought Thurman told took truck Trudy Trudy's trying turned Uncle Waylan Vicky's waiting walked Wally watch What's window woman wondered worry y'all Yeah Yellowjackets