Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
From the Editor, June 2017

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During my childhood, my father was often the one who read to my siblings and me. Most of what he read I can't recall, but I do remember The Wizard of Oz, because I remember that it upset me—as much because it ended as because it was frightening. Later, I remember an abridged version of Moby Dick. At Christmastime in our older years, he favored O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi or Bret Harte's How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar. Both were stories of heartbreakingly pure intentions, tragic sacrifice, and a kind of loving success that looked very much like failure. I found them unbearable and cried reliably. That, I remember very well.

As glad as I was to see that holiday tradition fall away, I've grown up to regard reading aloud to my children as one of the most important things I do as a parent. They're now eight and ten, and quite capable of reading anything on their own; I read to them anyway, as does my husband. The boys prefer books that make them laugh, and, frankly, so do I. But we read difficult things, too—including the Wizard of Oz, which, sure enough, upset them. (They were definitely glad when it was over.) Although a book has yet to make either of my boys cry, at Christmas, I always read Rumor Godden's The Story of Holly and Ivy, and I cry through the last quarter of it while my husband sniffles in the other room. The kids shift awkwardly, but they stay. We get through it together, each feeling in one way or another the sharp, discomfiting prickle of the wish that makes Ivy's loneliness into love.

As a child, I think I understood that sitting down to read together was a luxury and an honor, even if I didn't fully understand why we had to sit under a blanket of literary gloom, like a lead apron in our laps. But my dad thought that those stories were worth their weight, and I see now what he meant. I learned from him that while books can be an escape and a delight, they can also be a challenge, an education, and a catalyst for emotions that we'd rather not feel—and all those things are good.

A happy Father's Day from all of us at Literary Mama; may all our children grow to value literature's tough love.

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Heartsong: Joy by Kate Ristau


Celebrating a Father She Doesn't Remember by Julia Cho
Christmas Cards by Sue Hamilton
My Father, at Rikers by Eliot Sloan


Jesús Saved Us by Jim Ball

Literary Reflections

Essential Reading: Father's Day compiled by Nerys Copelovitz
Manifesto Destiny by Maryann Lawrence


Daddy Catches Lice by Stephen Young
Two by Mark Bennion
In the Bathroom Mirror by Lorraine Henrie Lins
Fibroids by Ellen Elder
Dear Grandpa by Dayna Patterson
The Cold Feel of the Forks and Knives by Shannon Bramer


A Conversation with Ben Berman by Gina Consolino-Barsotti
A Conversation with Geffrey Davis by Camille-Yvette Welsch
A Conversation with Tomas Moniz by Andrea Lani


A Review of Beartown by Jamie Sumner
A Review of Figuring in the Figure by Andrew Bode-Lang

Photos by Cynthia Adonailo, Julia Cho, Megan Devine, Jennifer DeVille Catalano, Lisa Lopez Smith, and Heather Vrattos

Libby Maxey lives in rural Massachussetts with her husband and two young sons. With her academic career as a medievalist having died a stunningly swift death by childbirth, she now works as an editor, writes poetry, reads when able, and sings with her local light opera company. Her work has appeared in The Mom Egg Review, Tule Review, Crannóg Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Mezzo Cammin and elsewhereHer first poetry chapbook, Kairos, won the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices contest.

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Heather Vrattos is pursuing an interest in photography by taking courses at the International Center of Photography. She is the mother of three boys, and lives in New York City.

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