Monday, April 2, 2007

The Book on Motherhood

I'm raising three kids, so much of the time reading, for me, is an escape from the demands of motherhood. But occasionally I like to read about it, too. You know, to touch literary base with other mothers. It's nice to know there are mothers out there thinking, since I often have trouble remembering my own...hey, don't hit your sister! Sorry, mothering intrudes. I remember one writer in a story in the New Yorker (sorry, can't remember the name of the writer or the story...see?) who talked about the "warm vegetable soup" of young motherhood, and I really related to the phrase.

In this Sunday's NY Times Book Review, there's a review of Deborah Garrison's new book of poems, The Second Child: Poems. She's gone from single Manhattanite to suburban mother of three, and her poetry has followed. The article made me want to read her poems, and it made me want to reread Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. The reviewer (Emily Nussbaum) calls Plath "the great unsung poet of motherhood". Boy, I do not remember her like that! Maybe because I read her as a college student, and the references to birth, lactation, and the like didn't resonate for me then--only the sadness made an impression!

I do love poetry, but for me it's a condiment in my reading diet. So I thought I'd mention a few of the other types of good books I've read about mothering.

Of the memoirs, I liked Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, which I found hilarious and poignant, and Louise Erdrich's The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year, which was interesting on mothering and writing at the same time.

I also remember really liking a collection of short stories by the British writer Helen Simpson, called Getting a Life: Stories. I know I've read others, but this fuzzy mommy brain doesn't remember. Does anyone have any recommendations for good books on motherhood?


liz said...

I really liked Fruitful by Anne Roiphe -- all about how feminism and motherhood converge. Also To Hell With All That by Caitlin Flanagan. That one is not always PC but she writes really well.

Gentle Reader said...

I'd like to read the Anne Roiphe book--I've read essays she's written and liked her voice. I haven't read the Caitlin Flanagan book, but read a lot of her magazine stuff, some of which was just inflammatory, but some of which was thought-provoking.