Friday, November 30, 2007

Shhh! Mommy's Reading!

Thought I might pass some mom-centric reading recommendations along. I know few of us have time to read, much left brain cells left to understand what we're reading, but anyhoo.

I have written before about Rachel Cusk, one of my favorite writers. She wrote a collection of essays on motherhood, "A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother." For many it will be too dark, but this is precisely why Crabmommy loved it. Cusk dispenses with the usual obligatory AND HIGHLY OBVIOUS facts about moms loving their babies and cherishing the happy moments and instead, she focuses on the difficult stuff: the identity adjustment you have to make when your body goes from one to two (cf. the essay "Motherbaby"); the bewildering nature of babies and how their mothers are supposedly meant to understand them but often don't have a clue...etc. Cusk also references literary characters in an interesting way in her collection (e.g., the childless Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth).

What I like about this sort of writing is its invitation to the imperfect mother within all of us. The author is not interested in happy-mom automatons (momatons?) and their drivelous observations; by writing about the more disconcerting aspects of motherhood, she reflects the real things about motherhood that are worth sharing. As I have always stated in my not-remotely-humble opinion, parental joy does not good reading make. Unless you're being funny or witty, don't bother writing about your happiness. Despair and doubt, on the other hand...

If dark and difficult isn't yanking your chain right now, I'm always happy to point out some clever light fare. Author Ayelet Waldman has a series called the Mommy Track Mysteries with titles like Death Gets a Time-Out and The Big Nap. Crabmommy loves me a writer who doesn't take herself too seriously and while Waldman writes real literary fiction (AND has four children) she says of this series, "you're supposed to read them while breastfeeding." In other words, a perfect shower present.

Any mom-centric reads you want to rec? Or any other funny/sad/diverting/witty reads in general?

(New posts today and Wed at the bloglet. I need drug advice. Go see, please.)


Inky Ink Inc. said...

'Peeling the Onion' by G√ľnter Grass; 'The Book of Dave' by Will Self; 'It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium' by John Ed Bradley; 'Frost' by Thomas Bernhard; 'Wormwood' by Marie Corelli. Not a mommy in the bunch.

Alexis said...

I just read a memoir called Petal Pusher: a Rock n' Roll Cinderella Story by Laurie Lindeen. She's married to Paul Westerberg of the 80s indie rock band the Replacements. Laurie was a rocker herself, but her band never got as famous as she would have liked. It's about being a girl band in a man's industry, about coping with MS in a macho world, about falling in love with a rock star and (improbably) ending up with the bourgeois lifestyle you never intended to live. She's a suburban mom now, but children make no appearance in the book, except in the form of a depressing abortion story.
Not a book for everyone, but suitable for a wider audience than you might initially think.

Crabmommy said...

that sounds like a goodie to me. I'm always drawn when someone says "It's not for everyone." The replacements were amazing. Poor wife of.

Inky Ink Inc. said...

The Replacements were fantastic. And Westerberg was the guiding light, of course. Ms. Westerberg's insights would be very interesting I'm sure. Marrying rock stars--the white woman's burden!

Anne B. said...

Sounds like a good book! It's much more toned-down (I'm assuming) and not at all modern, but I always liked Erma Bombeck's take on motherhood and family. Jean Kerr (I think this is the gal) is pretty funny, too.

The Tampon Wieners will make an excellent stocking stuffer. Thanks for the tip. :-)