Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
August, 2007

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Suzanne Kamata, Fiction Co-Editor, names The Folded World by Amity Gaige as her July reading. She writes, "Having read a number of stories featuring social workers from the client's point of view (typically unflattering portrayals), I was eager to read this novel told partly from a mental health care worker's point of view. Once I got started, I fell in love with Gaige's quirky, beautiful prose, and her utterly unique characters. I was also taken in by the gorgeous passages on marriage and motherhood."

Columns Editor, Dawn Friedman, reports a few thought-provoking titles on her night stand, one of which is The Mistress's Daughter by A. M. Homes, "her memoir of finding her birth parents and also digging into her family tree, deciding what her family connections -- bio and adoptive -- mean and how they define her. Also an interesting look at how someone is handling writing about family secrets."

Susan Ito, Fiction Co-Editor, lists Mother of Sorrows by Richard McCann as a title on her nightstand. She writes, "I read a short story of his in the O. Henry Prize Stories collection and was so blown away I went on Amazon and bought his book (a memoir).

Of her July reading, Violeta Garcia-Mendoza, Literary Reflections Assistant Editor, writes, "I habitually save great reading for my birthday month. This year, I'm re-reading Come Together, Fall Apart, a collection of stories set in contemporary Panama by Cristina Henriquez."

Of her current reading, Caroline Grant, Literary Reflections Editor, reports "I am reading my way slowly (chronologically) through American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes (Molly O'Neill, ed.), savoring every page. I'm still in the 19th Century, reading pieces ranging from Walt Whitman's poignant account of bringing ice cream to hospitalized Union soldiers, to Elizabeth Robins Pennel's very contemporary ideas about food: 'It would be impossible to think too much of what you are eating today and purpose to eat tomorrow,' she writes; 'It is your duty above all things to see that your food is in harmony with place and season.' Interspersed with the selections about food and eating are wonderful, wacky recipes that tell us so much about American culture, from Mrs. E.E. Kellogg's bran jelly (her husband's cornflakes were the family's lasting contribution to the American diet) to a recipe for catsup that I might just have to try."

Poetry Editor, Sharon Kraus' current reading is inspired by the poetic. This month, she's reading C.D. Wright's Steal Away: Selected Poems, of which she writes "Wright's voice, edgy, humane, jumpy and big, is a guide for me, and her strategies of writing her motherhood wake me up (not good for nightstand reading). Her work on prisoners is smart, too. I love how her narrative strategies are evident mainly through accumulation. She's not interested in the poem as seamless lyric, but as thinking-aloud, sorting through."

Deesha Philyaw, Columnist, recommends a title from her recent reading: Eat, Pray, Love. "I usually roll my eyes when someone says a book is life-changing -- not that I think a book can't be, I just think the phrase is overused. But with the utmost sincerity, I am declaring Elizabeth's Gilbert's a book which has changed my life. I'm nearing the end of this amazing story about Gilbert's year-long journey of self-discovery, traveling through Italy to experience sheer pleasure, then to India to pursue devotion, and finally to Bali, Indonesia to find the balance between 'worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.' Gilbert has a natural wit and spares no emotional, self-revelatory detail. The book is beautifully written, and, surprisingly, not at all schmaltzy or clich├ęd."

Sarah Weld, Profiles Editor, names Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, of which Sarah writes, "This recently discovered novel -- unpublished for 64 years -- written by well-known French novelist Irene Nemirovsky during World War II in France chronicles the panicked evacuation of Paris and the subsequent occupation of France by the Germans. The author looks at the war experience through the eyes of every class - farmers, villagers, aristocrats, artists, collectors, bank executives, and lowly bank workers. She focuses on the experience of the individual amidst the overwhelming chaos and disruption of wartime, with a wounded French soldier and then German soldiers shaking up the harmony of several households. It's a fascinating and well-written novel in itself but even more so when readers discover why the novel was lost for so long, and the tragic fate of its author and her family.

Stephanie Hunt, Columns Co-Editor, reports, "It's a Phillip Roth kind of summer here in steamy South Carolina, and I just finished Everyman, a novel thick with 'what it all means' issues and that brutal fact of mortality. Reading Roth makes me feel like I'm conversing with my dad on what it's like to be an American male -- a conversation I'd never be bold enough to actually have."

Finally, Reviews Co-Editor and Columnist, Sybil Lockhart's finds a good read in Falling Through the Earth, "Danielle Trussoni's memoir in which she explores the intricacies of an intense, painful, and dedicated relationship with her dysfunctional Vietnam Vet dad."

Kathy Moran, former Literary Reflections Editor, has two grown boys and three granddaughters. A retired secondary language arts teacher and literary magazine adviser, Kathy currently works as a teacher consultant for the Greater Kansas City Writing Project and editor of their newsletter Composing Ourselves. Kathy’s reflections can be found at Marmee’s Corner.

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