I used to despise the genre of the male “change of life.” (I don’t like the expression”midlife crisis” because it erases the physiological aspects of this process). Now I feel a lot more compassionate towards it because I understand it better.
Unfortunately, even though there is a rich “change of life” genre in women’s literature, it’s useless. Almost without exception, it’s about women who have reached the change of life stage* in a completely infantilized state and decide finally to grow up. (Think Kate Chopin’s The Awakening or Esther Tusquets’s The Same Sea as great examples.) And then they almost invariably fail and self-infantilize even further.
For women who grew up long before hitting 40, this is boring and irrelevant. What do I care about some coddled, spoiled woman who’s pouting at the world for not taking her seriously when she’s done nothing to deserve being taken seriously?
But I have never read any novels about adult, mature, non-infantilized women who reach this stage. Any recommendations, anybody?
When men write about the male change of life, they come up with Don Quixote. When women do, they come up with Mrs. Dalloway. It’s understandable why this was true in Cervantes’s time but what about today?
* Not to be confused with menopause. The stage I’m talking about happens in the decade before menopause. There are specific words for it in many languages but absolutely nothing in English because God forbid English-speakers are made to notice that physiology exists. No, you are supposed to be all about will-power, individual choices, and a disembodied spiritual existence.