By Jarret Liotta
One of the favorite spokespersons for a generation of women came to The Westport Library tonight to share her thoughts on dating, aging and “going big!”
Author Candace Bushnell (l) and Westport blogger Jennifer Blankfein tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com
Candace Bushnell wrote the New York Observer column “Sex and The City” — and a subsequent anthology published in 1997 under the same name — that was the basis for the popular HBO series that ran from 1998 to 2004 and starred Sarah Jessica Parker as Bushnell’s alter ego Carrie Bradshaw.
Currently on a book tour for her latest, “Is There Still Sex in the City?, Bushnell made for a sold-out event, with more than 300 tickets reserved.
Westport blogger Jennifer Blankfein, who authors “Book Nation by Jen,” posed questions to Bushnell, who talked for a full hour about her life and work, before taking time to autograph books and pose for pictures with fans, almost all of whom were adult women.
Asked about the popularity of “Sex and the City,” Bushnell said, “It was about something. It was about a new passage of time in women’s lives. It was after college and before you found a partner and things like that.”
“Women were going into the workforce (and) making their families really with their female friends,” she said.
Candace Bushnell, 60, now divorced, said she dated a 75-year-old man who “just kept asking for sex the whole time.” CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com
Bushnell said reaction around the world to the series was striking to her, as women told her it gave a message that there was nothing wrong with them if they weren’t married by a certain time in their lives.
For Bushnell, age 60, who divorced in 2012, the last decade was a turbulent one spectacled with growth and insight.
“A lot of stuff happened to me at the beginning of my fifties,” she said, but hadn’t expected she would be starting all over again, including dating.
She read a selection from her new book outlining a date with a 75-year-old man, drawing laughs from the crowd with worries over whether he might fall down.
“He just kept asking for sex the whole time,” Bushnell said.
Again, she lauded the importance of female friendships and how they helped get her through because those women were sharing similar situations.
From left, Jennifer Blankfein, a Westport blogger, Sivan Hong, vice president of The Westport Library’s board of trustees, and author Candace Bushnell tonight, (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com
“These friendships are really, really important for getting through the world again and refinding your feet,” she said.
Bushnell noted that times have changed due to technology, among other things, and that it’s probably harder now for younger women to traverse the world.
“In the 70s we didn’t have to shave our legs,” she said. “In the 80s, OK, we shaved our legs, but you didn’t have to shave other parts … All of that has changed.”
“Society colludes to tell men they’re a little better than they really are, and it colludes to tell women they’re a little worse,” Bushnell wrote in her new book.
“We have a lot of shame,” she said, noting that one of the hardest parts in recent years was fighting against an internal “ageism” she put upon herself, which manifested with self-negativity.
Yet Bushnell maintains that, though she is in a relationship with a man at this time, she values her career as a writer above personal pursuits.
Candace Bushnell meets some new friends during her book signing at The Westport Library. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com
“For me it’s just the way I’ve been ever since I was a kid,” she said. “I always felt this big drive to be a writer, a really big passion for it.”
Relationships can come and go, she said, but a career is something an individual can maintain.
Growing older, she explained — in particular losing her parents — has given her new freedoms to be herself and to pursue her passions.
“At this point in our life, go big or go home,” she said. “Go big or go to the grave. That’s my feeling.”
“Candace Bushnell is a woman who narrated many of our younger lives, remarking on moments of laughter and tears,” said Sivan Hong, library board vice president, introducing the program.
“(She) helped us create our own vision of female empowerment,” she said.