Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Essential Reading: Distance

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Spring is feeling all too far away here in New England, and I’m musing on distance—the distance between what we want and what we have, between where we were and where we are, between several feet of frozen snow and that bit of earth where something ought to grow. Our reading list on the topic probes the spaces between people who ought to be close, and explores the terrain that characters cover as they come closer or pull farther away from each other and their destinies.

Fiction Co-Editor Kristina Riggle writes, “I recently read This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash, in which two girls, 12-year-old Easter and 6-year-old Ruby, end up in foster care following the sudden death of their mother. Their errant father, Wade, is an ex-minor league ballplayer who has been physically distant from his girls most of their lives. That physical distance is nothing compared to the yawning emotional gulf that separates him from Easter, who is old enough to remember that feeling of abandonment all too well. The complex characters pull you along on their journeys, literal and symbolic.”

Christina Consolino, Profiles Co-Editor, shares, “I'm catching up on my backlog of reading (at least trying to, anyway) and I picked up This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman. In short, it is the story of what happens when a fifteen-year-old boy, Jake Bergamot, exhibits poor judgment typical of many teenagers. Jake is sent a sexually explicit video, meant only for him, and he forwards that video, which subsequently goes viral. The scandal that results from Jake's momentary lapse of good sense creates such physical and emotional distance between family members that by the end of the novel, the characters find themselves in places quite far from where they ever imagined themselves.”

Editor-in-Chief Caroline Grant offers a particularly mama-centric read: “Amy Shearn's first novel, How Far is the Ocean From Here, introduces us to a young, unmarried surrogate mother who panics shortly before her due date and heads out on the road. Susannah gets from Chicago to a rundown Southwestern motel before her car breaks down and she is stuck. I loved reading about the quirky temporary family that develops at The Thunder Lodge, and how Susannah comes to close the distance--both physical and emotional--between herself and the parents of her baby.”


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, Off the Coast, Tule Review, Crannóg Magazine, Mezzo Cammin and elsewhere.


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