Friday, February 24, 2006


(More than) 10-pages-in book review - Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined

In a rare exception to my (patent pending) ten-pages-in book review, today’s review comes after I have voraciously consumed and thoroughly enjoyed the entire book.

Today I have the great honour of hosting a stop on the blog book tour for Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined. This book is an anthology of small works of fiction, literary non-fiction and poetry that have appeared in the Literary Mama e-zine and have been lovingly assembled by editors Andi Buchanan and Amy Hudock.

Remember the book review I did last week, where I complained that the book was sterile and devoid of emotional impact? I said it lacked any insight into the act of mothering. This wonderful collection is the antithesis of that. It teems with emotion, with meaning, with – with – well, with motherness. In every single piece, I found something that resonated with me. The essays moved me - some to tears, some to laugh, many to think.

Here's how much I liked this book: Andi was nice enough to send me a courtesy copy for review, and while looking for it earlier this week to put a few finishing touches on this review I realized that my copy had disappeared. Gone. Last time I saw it, it was dangerously close to the pile of mostly-digested weekend newspapers (which are now consumed over the course of days instead of hours). I suspect it got recycled. But I'm going to buy myself a copy, because I liked it that much.

Anthologies are perfectly suited for busy mothers who love to read. Dipping in and out of this collection was like snacking on indulgent little treats, rather than sitting down to the full meal that is a novel. I stole 15 minutes after my shower one Saturday morning to read Cassie Premo Steele’s charming fiction vignette Chocolate, about a mother navigating the minefield of teenage sexual curiosity while making a cake with her daughter. I was moved to messy public tears on the bus while reading Heidi Raykeil’s Johnny, an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir about losing her infant son. After enjoying Jennifer Eyre White’s essay Analyzing Ben one Sunday afternoon at the tail end of naptime, I was compelled to read parts out loud to Beloved and couldn’t get through them without snickering.

I could go on all day drawing your attention to this morsel or that throughout the anthology. I usually find myself only skimming poetry, partly because I am intimidated by it, but I am haunted by Megeen R. Mulholland’s Miscarriage of an English Teacher and have gone back to it several times. The sense of struggling for control, of insisting on the importance of the mundane, of breathing in tiny irregular breaths because you can’t open your lungs enough for a full breath – it’s exactly how I felt after my own miscarriage.

This book makes me want to write. It has inspired me. And I don’t mean that in a hyperbolic way; I just mean that it makes me want to find the time and to really try my hand as a writer. It sure satisfied the reader in me!

By happy coincidence, my friend and bloggy mentor Ann Douglas is also hosting a stop on the LM blog book tour today. It was through Ann that I was first introduced to Literary Mama last year – and for that I am deeply grateful.

You know what this book is? It's a perfect Mother's Day gift. No, scratch that - it's the perfect gift for a mother, just because.