Good as a Girl: A Memoir

At the age of eight Ray Olderman vowed to his mother that he’d be good as a girl. His mother badly wanted a girl and had just given birth to her third son. In this funny and poignant story, Ray tells us how he carried the vow throughout his highly varied life and career. We follow his search for the “secret” of how to relate to women and understand the way they see the world—to please his mom. The story takes us on a rich ride through Ray’s experiences from the late 1940s until his mother’s death in the 1990s. Along the way he forms many friendships with women who help him in his quest.  

Good as a Girl offers a unique perspective on class and gender issues. As the years go by, Ray offers his own class-changing view of American social and cultural history. And because he was good friends with girls and women from an early age, he has a different story to tell about gender relations.

Reviews of "Good as a Girl"

“By his own admission, Olderman was born confident. Confidence has served him well over a life which led from an early life in the factory world of Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a tenured position at a major university. America pretends to be a classless society, but most people born into an economic or educational level, simply stay there. I cherish a book that describes experiences on both sides of the tracks, and what it’s like to make that journey. An avalanche of funny, real stories are told in a style, like Vonnegut, that draws you in with signature phrases. A fun and insightful read, highly recommended.”

“I burst out laughing many times reading this memoir. Vivid scenes of growing-up, making mistakes, gender and class insights, US Army survival, academic snobbery, and the courage of saying what one believes. Hardscrabble jobs, theater, intellectual surprises, and awakening to new cultures and ways of living tell the story of a man who was not afraid to reflect.”

“Ray Olderman’s memoir is a deeply moving and hilarious wise guy account of Ray trying to show his mom (and dad) that he can be as “good as a girl” when he discovers that his mom is disappointed he is her third son, not the daughter she wanted. I especially liked the stories about his time in the military (Catch-22-like) and academia (professorial warfare), his stint as an Arthur Murray dance instructor (the rumba and the cha cha cha), his early days growing up In Bridgeport , Connecticut (learning to defend himself), and of course, his interactions with various women, all of whom teach him something, on his journey to meet the woman he’d eventually share his life with. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It’s a winner. The book will make you laugh and several of his stories will make you cry.”

Other Books - Written as Raymond M. Olderman

BEYOND THE WASTE LAND: THE AMERICAN NOVEL IN THE NINETEEN-SIXTIES

Winner of 18th Annual Explicator Award.

Discusses the novels of Ken Kesey, Stanley Elkin, John Barth, Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, John Hawkes, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and Peter S. Beagle

Several chapters have been reprinted in anthologies. The book is considered a seminal text for the study of post WWII American fiction.

“Olderman’s book is a first rate work of criticism which shows the applicability of the Waste Land myth to a series of  American novelists of the 1960s.” – Choice

“A valuable survey of some recent novels that reflect the dominance of fable over realism.” – Library Journal

“This book is brilliant. It is provocative, meaty, and a great delight to read and an even greater delight to ponder and review in one’s mind.” – Albuquerque Journal  

“A completely engrossing and fascinating book.” –L.A.Times

(Yale Univ. Press, 1972). Paperback, 1974. Japanese Trans., Hyoronsha Press, Tokyo, 1976. 

10 MINUTE GUIDE TO BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

“This is an essential reference for anyone who must communicate effectively as part of their work or profession. Each 10-minute lesson is full of strategies that help you get your message across with clarity, style and grace.” –National Library Board – Book Reviews

MacMillan/ Spectrum, 1997

HONORING A CENTURY OF SERVICE: THE STORY OF LIBRARIANS AND DEMCO 1905-2005 

(Published by Demco 2005)

 
 

A WORK OF LOVE AND DEVOTION: THE HISTORY OF THE WISCONSIN CHEESEMAN 1946-2006