I celebrated the start of summer by re-reading most of the Dinny Gordon books (my library is missing one), and then settled in to correct some proofs.

And I thought that I would love to read a book about grown-up Dinny as an archaeologist, correcting proofs for an article about her latest finds or reconstructions, or about her in college. So I searched for “Dinny Gordon” and “fanfic,” and came up blank.

Someone needs to do something about this.

It’s true that there are some archeology blogs, like Old Stuff in Hot Places, and Middle Savagery, which have entertained me for hours (as well as banished my lingering regret that I didn’t stick with my childhood desire to be an archeologist; I am clearly much, much better off in the library than breathing corpse dust). But I would love to find out how Dinny weathered the sixties and seventies, and hear about her experiences in academia, and perhaps even find out what she’s doing now: has she retired, is she thinking about it, or is she determined to stick at her job as long as she can because she loves it so much?

I have other things to write, but I can imagine doing a grown-up Dinny novel as a group project. Any takers? Anyone want to take up the challenge on their own?

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13 thoughts on “A hole in the literature

  1. OMG, she needs a twitter account!

    I am so for this happening. I don’t have the ability to write it myself, but man, if I had infinite money…

  2. Do you think she managed to get and keep an academic job, or did she end up like Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels aka Barbara Mertz)?

    I am concerned that she ended up teaching history at a private all girls high school. But maybe she ended up working for the government? And it looks like Barbara Mertz still stayed active…

    1. I think she wound up a museum curator.

      After college, she spent 2-3 years working on digs in the Middle East before she went back for the Ph.D. I can’t decide at what point she married Brad; whatever was optimal for work/school: so possibly in order to facilitate accompanying him on one of the post-college digs. But if she started graduate work in the early 70s, things would have been a little easier then than they would have earlier. She got an academic job, but then got head-hunted by a museum, and loved that: teaching without grading, lots of work with artifacts without the inconveniences of camp life, and the regular hours were very helpful while she was raising children.

      For some reason, I can’t quite believe that she and Brad stayed married (possibly this is just to create plot options, but partly it’s awareness of statistics/demographics for that generation). They certainly had a couple of children. Dinny’s friends were very helpful after the divorce. Sue had married very well, and was on the board of a private school that provided scholarships for Dinny’s kids during the dicier years. Melinda married one of her TAs, whose accomplishments she admired enormously, and they lived the sort of academic life that reminded Dinny of her own parents (and when Melinda’s kids were in school, she opened a Jenny Craig-type business and was wildly successful), so it was very comforting to go and stay with Melinda’s family sometimes. Blythe, to everyone’s surprise, became a journalist. Her years as a model meant that she was worldly and unsurprised by anything, and her looks made important men fall over themselves to boast about their achievements, including the ones they shouldn’t have spoken of, forgetting that she was going to go and write it all down. Julie Jennings married a French man and provided another option for family holidays.

      1. Yes! A museum curator! At a Smithsonian in DC or the Art Museum in Chicago. (Or maybe the Oriental museum that she loved so much as a kid.) A federal museum is historically a bit more likely given her gender. (The feds swallowed up a ton of amazing female (and minority) PhDs in technical fields who couldn’t get work elsewhere during these decades.)

        Is Brad the grad student? I felt like he was too old for her– it seemed sketchy him being pegged as a romantic interest before she was even in college. I think that came to nothing because he met someone else (more his age and not as brilliant or focused as Dinny, because he’s not as brilliant or focused as Dinny) and she was briefly heartbroken until she realized she respected him but it was really just a crush. Plus I’m betting she got her PhD at UChicago right after college. She probably knew Barbara Mertz!

        The romantic in me thinks she married a nice guy in grad school or shortly thereafter when she was in her late 20s (after having decided she would probably end up single) who had a working mom and got his BA at UIUC and supported her 100% because he thought it was normal for married women to work. He’s probably a government employee like my uncles-in-law whose wives (my aunts) are high-powered. Possibly a history major undergrad with a JD from Northwestern doing legal work for the government because he’s public service oriented. They’re still married in living in DC, or maybe Winnetka. They probably met through mutual friends while they were both near the end of their respective graduate school careers.

        I’d like a narrative in which the ambitious smart woman gets a career and love. I agree on two kids.

        I envision him not getting a lot of monetary help from his extended family because they don’t have the money, so they have law school debt to payoff after the marriage. Her salary isn’t very large, and his isn’t that big either since he’s working for the government. So she *had* to work (probably spent some time as a typist like Mertz did before landing the museum job, where she no doubt started at the bottom level despite her phd), and then she kept working after they had kids because she loved it so much. By that time they were able to hire “good help” for childcare (probably an immigrant woman with an interesting backstory), or maybe her parents stepped in if they were still in the Chicagoland area instead of DC.

        I’m good with the supporting characters’ narratives!

  3. Yeah, Brad’s the grad student, and I don’t have a problem with the age difference. He’s very hands-off when she’s younger, and apparently has some love interests of his own age, but as Dinny grows up, seven years won’t be that big a deal. (Sir John is six years older than I am.) Considering the times, I think it’s very likely that it seemed logical to get married so she could go with him and dig; also men were wanting to marry young during the Vietnam War to help get deferments. U of Chicago seems very likely for the PhD as well as the BA. I want her to have a few years of dirty-hands archeology before retreating into museum work, and I think pre-grad school is the best place to put that. I see her at the Art Institute or the Field Museum.

    I think her second husband is very wealthy, someone she meets through her museum work, a man from a modest background who put aside his own desire to be a historian in order to do something “practical,” and then that career succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. But he loves her career and supports her 100%, doesn’t expect a wife to cater to him (because he can *hire* house staff); he’s not going to go back for an advanced degree in mid-life but he loves hearing about what she’s doing and getting to hang out with all her smart friends.

    1. I am afraid I just cannot support Brad as a love interest. It is very different marrying someone 7 years older when you’re both adults compared to when one of them is still a really a child when they meet. Plus with the #metoo movement it’s just kind of gross. She should be allowed to do her work without being a sexual object to anybody, particularly someone 7 years ahead of her in the same field. There’s power imbalances. Not a fair narrative.

      She could meet the wealthy guy via her curation work while she’s never married in her late 30s and have two kids in rapid succession as a compromise… Though that’s also kind of gross. Can’t she meet someone that she doesn’t have to do business with? See, a law student would be poor at first with a modest background and would have enough money for house staff later (even as a government employee, just not right away). And it wouldn’t be retelling all those awful stories that modern society has been using as excuses for male exploitation of working women. It wouldn’t be looking at the education or the job as an MRS. Anne Embry was refreshingly good about not doing that. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t have Dinny marry someone who was a different religion or ethnicity.

  4. My main problem with Brad is that he’s boring. That is, while Dinny finds him very interesting, there’s almost no character development of Brad, less than for, say, Tom Jennings, whom Dinny dates as a pal while she’s trying to go out with Curt Beauregard without going steady.

    However, the lack of development means that he’s the perfect surface for projections of all sorts. If you look, he doesn’t even appear very often. He’s introduced in the second book, via Dinny’s father, who hopes he’ll distract Roxie from an unsuitable man. At that point, he’s polite to Dinny as the kid sister, and encouraging of her intellectual interests, in part because spoiled Roxie is playing dumb. After that, he tends to appear three times in each book, beginning, middle, and end. He’s a sounding board for Dinny to work out problems involving work and boys; he asks questions that help her figure things out, but he doesn’t give advice. He does support her plans for travel, college, and career.

    I don’t see anyplace where he ever treats Dinny as a sex object. He acts like a friend of the family. When he invites her to visit the U of C, it’s for lectures; he gets her a room in a dorm; there are chaperones. They don’t have dates of the sort she goes on with the boys in high school.

    Are you sure you’re not mixing him up with Steve, the college boy who gets very serious very fast about Dinny in the fourth book? Pretty much as soon as Steve appears, I’m muttering “DTMFA, DTMFA,” because he really is obviously bad news.

    1. He DOESN’T. And I hope he never does! If they get married, that destroys everything. I want him to stay the good big brotherly mentory guy to prove that that can be done. And I think Anne Embry would keep it that way because she was so ahead of her time. I want him to stay a professional mentor and never a bed partner. Because I want more of that in reality too.

      1. And he can be married to a woman who is friendly to Dinny (perhaps even friends with) because she has no reason to think of Dinny as a romantic rival. Because everything is professional and not awful. Love is love and doesn’t have to be found at work. Because there are lots of fish in the sea. If she’s going to get that curator job, she’s going to need lots of male mentors pulling for her, and I want that pull to be for her intellectual merits and general competence.

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