Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Now Reading: September 2015

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Only a month after moving back to my home state of Georgia, I was excited to be able to attend the Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the US. As a volunteer at this great event, I was given the opportunity to select books from a used book tent for free! I happily snagged A Lost Lady, Willa Cather's novel about an unconventional woman, Home Economics, Wendell Berry's collection of essays on our stewardship responsibility, and Madeleine L'Engle's The Summer of the Great-Grandmother. I love reading a mix of fiction and nonfiction, so I've got my nose in each of these lovely books right now. But given the decline of both of my grandmothers' health this year—a primary reason for my move home—it's the latter book that is holding my attention the most. I identify with L'Engle's quest for peace, and I appreciate her account of her mother's last year of life both for its honesty and the way she leans away from sentimentality. "I want my mother to be my mother," L'Engle writes, "And she is not. Not any more. Not ever again."

Literary Reflections Editor Andrea Lani writes, "I rarely plunk down 30 bucks for a hardcover book, but when I saw Let Me Tell You, a new collection of short stories and essays by Shirley Jackson, at my local bookstore, I did not hesitate. It's my favorite kind of book, with a built-in satin ribbon bookmark (red) and full of wit (but not snark), unflinching social commentary (but not polemic), a touch of the macabre (but not grisly), and writing wisdom (but not advice). This is quite an accomplishment for a writer who has been dead 50 years; her son and daughter assembled the collection from Jackson's papers stored in the Library of Congress. I've asserted before that Jackson is the mother of the mother-protagonist, and this book furthers that thesis, with several mother-driven short stories as well as a handful of her humorous family stories—about which Jackson's biographer, Ruth Franklin, writes, 'Jackson essentially invented the form that has become the modern-day "mommy blog."' Like everything Jackson wrote, the book is a thrill and delight to read, and it offers validation to those of us who don't confine our writing to one genre but dabble in fiction and nonfiction, funny and strange, literary writing and blog posts."

"Birthing the Mother Writer" Columnist Cassie Premo Steele shares, "As a scholar of trauma and a believer in the power of writing to heal, I am currently riveted by Aline Ohanesian's novel, Orhan's Inheritance, which tells the story of a modern man in Turkey coming to terms with his ancestral legacy through a meeting with an elderly Armenian woman in the United States. Beautiful writing, deft changes of point of view, and subtle depictions of how traumatic memory works make this a must-read for literary mamas interested in the hidden histories of genocide and the ways they still inform our lives today."

Keep up with our selections at the Literary Mama Goodreads page.

Justine Uhlenbrock is a writer and doula. She writes about motherhood and heritage on her blog, Heirloom Mothering. Her work has also appeared on Mamalode, The Good Men Project, and The Mid. Justine lives with her family in Decatur, Georgia. She is a former editorial assistant for Literary Mama.

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