Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
April, 2009

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We asked Literary Mamas to share what is on their bedside table, in their purse, or somewhere in the shifting work pile. Interested in an adventure? There are four distinct journeys at this fork in the road!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Suzanne Kamata, Fiction Co-Editor, writes, "I just finished reading The Wandering Heart by Mary Malloy. In this intricately woven story, historian Lizzie Manning goes to an English manor to catalog artifacts related to the Northwest voyage of Captain Cook. She becomes involved in a centuries-old mystery involving a missing heart, the Knights of the Templar, and belladonna. The story was both fascinating and educational, and Lizzie was a very likable character."

Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-Editor, shares, "I just finished Revolutionary Road which was kindly passed on to me by our own Editor-in-Chief, Caroline Grant. I have not seen the film and now I love the book so much I almost don't dare. Richard Yates paints a painful and subtle portrait of an unraveling marriage in the 1950s suburbs. But this is no weepy soap opera. The stakes are high and the consequences dire, as April and Frank Wheeler circle each other in the tightening sphere of their marriage. Yates's exquisite prose is graceful without ever being heavy handed. His pitch is perfect with psychological observations of family, love (or lack of) and frustrated ambition which ring true even now, a half-century later."

Creative Nonfiction Co-Editor Kate Haas, says, "I'm reading an advance copy of Nicole Chaison's hilarious graphic memoir The Passion of the Hausfrau. Mixing prose and comics, Chaison recasts the classic hero's journey as the path of motherhood. This is a story of self-discovery and exhaustion, epic drama and mundane misfortune, and of wrestling with that profound question Odysseus never thought to ask: Am I still hip? In short, it depicts the heroic journey of mothers everywhere. Chaison (undisputed mistress of the very funny footnote) is a wonderful storyteller and an even funnier artist: lice infestation, gun-obsessed kids, unending home
renovations, the consolation of good friends and wine: all serve to aid the Hausfrau in her journey to self-knowledge - and to make a delicious read for the rest of us."

Ezine Co-Editor Jessica DeVoe Riley, writes, "I'm reading One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. This novel is a fictionalized "what if?" of a real moment from US history. In the late 1800s, a Cheyenne chief asked the US Army for one thousand white women to procreate with his warriors because Cheyenne attribute one's heritage to the mother's side. The request was denied in real history, but in Fergus' book, the government pulled together the "Brides for Indians" program and sent to the Cheyenne volunteer women, prison inmates, and asylum dwellers. May Dodd was one such asylum dweller, a woman forced into the asylum by her well-to-do family because she fell in love with a man of lower class and bore his children out of wedlock. The story is told through journal entries and letters Dodd writes, but never mails, to her family. Through these writings, we see a comparison of cultures, particularly in how they treat women: one savage and one civilized. It begs the question: which do you think is which?"

Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.

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