Mother Reader: Essential Literature on Motherhood
The intersection of motherhood and creative life is explored in these writings on mothering that turn the spotlight from the child to the mother herself. Here, in memoirs, testimonials, diaries, essays, and fiction, mothers describe first-hand the changes brought to their lives by pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering.
Many of the writers articulate difficult and socially unsanctioned maternal anger and ambivalence. In Mother Reader, motherhood is scrutinized for all its painful and illuminating subtleties, and addressed with unconventional wisdom and candor. What emerges is a sense of a community of writers speaking to and about each other out of a common experience, and a compilation of extraordinary literature never before assembled in a single volume.
"Moyra Davey has assembled in Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood a chorus of modern voices that explore with brutal honesty what childbearing does to women who are accustomed to a creative life. Thus Adrienne Rich describes "the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness" that having children provoked in her. And Mona Simpson writes of becoming a mother at age thirty-six, "It is hard to sign up for the complete annihilation of life as you know it." The book is a master class in the out-of-body, all too frequently out-of-your-mind experience that falls under the prosaic, and thus ludicrously misleading, heading of parenting." —Ben Dickinson, Elle Magazine
"Davey, a photographer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, Grand Street, and Documents, bore her first child at the age of 38. When her infant developed colic, she found that she needed a break from the isolation of being a primary caregiver. Books were her lifeline. Her aim in this anthology was "to bring together examples of the best writing on motherhood of the last 60 years, writing that tells firsthand of the mother's experience." Arranged by year of publication, this anthology includes excerpts from journals, memoirs, essays, stories, and interviews. The contributors include an impressive list: Doris Lessing, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Mead, Susan Griffin, Adrienne Rich, Alice Walker, Ursula Le Guin, Mona Simpson, Toni Morrison, Grace Paley, and Mary Gaitskill. These authors question the impact of motherhood on women's lives and careers, whether or not mothers have been given a voice in the canon, and the direct experience of motherhood. Several women write about their unequivocal desire not to be a mother. An impressive addition to any women's studies or literature collection." —Pam Kingsbury, Library Journal