I have been ridiculously remiss in writing but I have been reading over the past month. And it seems the themes of the moment is mothers.
First up: Absent Mother and Abusive Mother: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson. I Loved it, capital L and could not stop turning the pages. It’s as much a coming of age memoir as it is about the development of a writer and reminded me a lot of one of my favorite memoirs on that subject, Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings. If you haven’t read much Winterson or wasn’t all that keen on what you did read, give the memoir a chance.
Then, Complicated Mother: Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel. How fantastic is it to have 2 major lesbian authors getting a tremendous amount of attention? Anyway, I really really wanted to love this since I am a huge fan of Fun Home but I just could not get into it or excited by it. Intellectually, I totally get all of the incredible praise and reviews and I know the work is thoughtful, exceedingly well-drawn and written and took an immense amount of work to create but damned if I just couldn’t get into it and found myself skipping and skimming lots of pages. Could just be the wrong book at the wrong time for me.
So from there, where to go but Dead Mother: Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was just picked by Oprah for her Book Club 2.0 but don’t let that prevent you. A woman alone in the woods is pretty badass and so is confronting hardship, grief, and fear. It’s not Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods but if you’ve ever tramped in the great outdoors hoping to calm down, work something out, lose yourself, or remind yourself what really matters, you’ll find a lot to like here. And that opening scene–perfect.
Then, a break from mothers and a focus on pure power: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Wolf Hall ranked as one of my favorite books of 2009 and this follow-up did not disappoint. Cromwell is such a ruthless and cunning character filled with such love—he is an absolute a triumph. I cannot wait for book 3.
But I just can’t seem to stay away so now it’s time for Delusional Mother: Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain. More on that when I’m done.
I’ve also been somewhat socially reclusive so I did not attend this year’s Lambda Literary Awards. Sounds like it was a stellar event with many memorable moments—and Kate Clinton! I am chagrined to see that I have not read one of these winners. Zipper Mouth by Laurie Weeks is one I think I need to move to the top of the pile. It seems to be following me everywhere over the past year….And yes, awesome cover.