Dispatches from Reviews
Literary Mama’s Reviews desk is in the enviable position of receiving far more books than we can ever hope to review. While we are giddy that so many authors are writing books about mothering, and so many mother writers are writing books about, well, everything, we cannot review more than a handful of titles each year. We feel that many of these books deserve mention and we want to showcase some of these titles in a semi-regular Dispatches from Reviews feature on the Literary Mama blog.
In Writing Motherhood: Tapping into Your Creativity as a Mother and a Writer, author Lisa Garrigues posits that writing is not something we need to try to fit in around our mothering, but can, in fact, be an integral part of our mothering. Using the idea of a Mother’s Notebook — a sort of writer’s journal/baby book/to do list — she demonstrates how even the most mundane maternal tasks can become proseworthy events. She shows not only how the process of mothering can help your writing, but how the process of writing can help you be a better parent.
Over the summer, I devoured Gwendolen Gross’s novel, The Other Mother. I adored this book and would love to see it get as much buzz as, say, Tom Perotta’s Little Children. Billed as fictional account of the “Mommy Wars,” the book is both richly layered and highly readable. On one one level, the book is about the divide between working mothers and those who remain at home, the guilt mother’s feel whatever “choice” they make, and the fact that it is not really a choice at all. On another level, the book is an exploration of judgement, and the validity of the so-called truths on which we base our views of others and of ourselves. I loved it and will be writing more about it at some point.
Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, edited by Cori Howard is available for pre-order (currently, it is available in Canada but will not be released in the US until February). This anthogy is particularly close to my heart as it includes my essay “Unhinged” (originally subtitled ‘How the pressure to breastfeed made me lose my mind). Contributors include writers Joy Kogawa, Chandra Mayor, Christy Ann Conlin, Ami McKay (the LM review of her acclaimed novel The Birth House, can be found here), and Rachel Rose, as well as by award winning journalists, celebrities such as Carrie-Ann Moss and Chantal Kreviazuk, and other writer mothers. (When I saw the list of author names on the book’s cover, an my name among them, I couldn’t get that old Sesame Street Song “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” out of my head for about a week. I wouldn’t so self-promoting if I weren’t just so darned stunned about the whole thing.)
I have received a few other books across my desk that I have not had a chance to fully sink my teeth into but have piqued my interest.
Author Terra Trevor wrote her memoir, Pushing up the Sky, about the period following the adoption of their oldest daughter from Korea. Trevor waded into uncharted territory as not only was the adoption transracial (Trevor is American Indian and her husband is Caucasian), but they adopted an older child changing the birth order within their family (they had a birth daughter who now became the ‘middle child’ as well as a son, also adopted from Korea). As Trevor writes, “All at once, we discovered there would not be a honeymoon. Our amalgamated life together began immediately, and it hit us full force. Once again I had that same sense as when company or the cousins came for an overnight stay. When the children had overnight guests, the activity level peaked, and my emotions rode on air currents as I paced my way through the visit. Yet with company or cousins I knew it would eventually end, and once they left I could settle my children down and we’d go back to our regular lives. Only I couldn’t because these were all my kids.”
Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, edited by Laura Diamond, is a collection of personal essays, stories and poems collection from 20 members of Jack Grapes’ L.A. Poets and Writers’ Collective. A number of the writers are screenwriters who give the book a punchy, vibrant feel. Lisa Becker’s poem Postpartum Depression was heartstopping in its honesty. I look forward to reading this book in more depth.
Finally, I wanted to draw attention to the fabulous work of Demeter Press, brainchild of The Association for Research on Mothering’s inimitable Andrea O’Reilly. Demeter is the first book publisher focused specifically on the topic of motherhood/mothering. The recently released Maternal Theory: Essential Readings is a collection of 50 groundbreaking texts about mothering from Adrienne Rich, Nancy Chodorow, Sara Ruddick, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Daphne de Marneffe, Ariel Gore, Ann Crittenden, Judith Warner, and many others.