Dry Your Smile

A former child actor searches for her true self in this novel-within-a-novel from a leader of the international feminist movement.

Robin Morgan - Books - Fiction - Dry Your Smile (1987)

Doubleday & Company, 1987
Open Road Media, 2016

“I dreaded that Robin Morgan would write an uplifting feminist book. Fortunately, she has decided to be a bad girl instead. And what fun it is!” —RITA MAE BROWN

Dry Your Smile has the energy and determination of a jailbreak. The most tender, awful relationship in the book is the obsessive, tragic bond between mother and daughter—a terrible honesty nearly unique in literature: one recalls Simone de Beauvoir’s portrait of her mother: mortal, vital.” —KATE MILLETT

“A novel that reminds us what novels are for. Morgan peels away masks, creates the whole by viewing it from all sides, deepens our understanding of real life.” —GLORIA STEINEM

Before she even turned fourteen, Julian Travis made enough money as a TV star to support her mother for life in an apartment in one of Manhattan’s best buildings. But now, Julian is in her mid-forties and things are not so glamorous or easy. Her mother is slowly dying of Parkinson’s, her marriage of twenty years is steadily disintegrating, and money is scarce. Though Julian is a famed feminist spokeswoman and published poet, when she looks into the mirror, she doesn’t recognize herself. That and the novel she is writing are giving her a terrible time.

Dry Your Smile takes readers on a journey into Julian’s past—from the precarious circumstances surrounding her birth to the lies and stories her mother wove about her absent father to her childhood diary and dreams, and her subsequent escape into the arms of a revolutionary artist and a bohemian life.

In the present, Julian delves into the emotional baggage imparted by her Jewish stage-mom as a means of taking off the many masks she has worn over the years, and begins writing prose through the voice of her younger self. She also searches for a new future in a lesbian love affair with Iliana, a bisexual photographer and the one person who makes Julian feel beautiful. In the end, however, perhaps what Julian needs most is to separate herself from the expectations and images of others, and truly listen to the woman she has become.

A roman à clef of author and poet Robin Morgan’s own struggles with what it means to be a female writer in the late twentieth century, Dry Your Smile is an intelligent and cathartic addition to any feminist library.