Ann Friedman

  • Things Fall Apart

    The debate about whether women can "have it all" has aged only slightly better than stock photos of women in skirt suits with babies on their hips. Yet the questions at the heart of that worn-out conversation are freshly animated in Ariel Levy's new memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply. Levy defines "it all" as not simply "a career and a family," but a woman's ability to live her life exactly as she wants to. "We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising," she writes. "We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and

  • The Soul-Mate Shuffle

    Once I went to a party at Aziz Ansari’s house. This was the first and only time I’d been invited to a celebrity party, but I tried to play it cool. I brought two friends and a bottle of decent bourbon. When we walked in the door, I instantly regretted bringing the booze. There was a bartender in a suit making signature cocktails. Of course this was not a BYOB event. Stars: They’re not just like us, no matter what Us Weekly says.

    I should have known, right? I was invited because I’d met Ansari a few weeks prior. He was about to start working on a book about love and dating in the digital age.

  • Beginning to See the Light

    There are two types of nonbelievers in the world: those who were raised without religion and stayed firmly in the realm of the godless, and those who were brought up with religion and rejected it. I fall into the latter camp, having converted to atheism with an enthusiasm to match the zeal of any evangelical Christian. I’ve always liked the way the journalist and essayist Barbara Ehrenreich, who was raised an atheist and educated as a scientist, talks about the values and morals she formed based on her knowledge of earthly things. So I was surprised to discover that her new memoir was about

  • Epitaph of a Small Winner

    Though he’s primarily associated with sad-suited midcentury businessmen, Dale Carnegie, who frequently aired his boredom with traditional career hierarchies and hymned his devotion to the power of personality, seems more like a precursor to many a modern tech entrepreneur. Hard labor, Carnegie argued, is less a path to success than fresh ideas are. Old models are to be questioned, then modified or thrown out completely. As Steven Watts suggests in his new biography, Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America (Other Press, $30), the conventional-wisdom business guru presaged


    The word patriarchy is often fodder for crude caricature in today’s debates about gender politics. On the one hand, it furnishes a ready touchstone for feminist academics—an all-purpose indictment of gender injustices, past and present—as any glance across women’s-studies sections in academic-press catalogues will quickly confirm. On the other, it serves as a no-less-convenient rhetorical cudgel for antifeminist writers (and, for that matter, bloggers, cable talk-show hosts, et al.) keen to dismiss or deride the sweep of feminist thought; in this usage, it doubles as a winking, half-ironic way