Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nine revelatory books about motherhood

Elisa Albert is the author of After Birth (2015), The Book of Dahlia (2008), How This Night is Different (2006), and the editor of the anthology Freud’s Blind Spot (2010). At The Huffington Post she tagged nine radical books about motherhood, including:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I don’t love this book, though it is host to a completely fascinating setup: a dystopia (Past? Present? Future?) in which women are enslaved breeders, subject to intense oppression and ritual. Atwood’s prose bugs me; the narrative and tone don’t quite suit one another, so it’s like a zany soundtrack where a mournful would be appropriate. Maybe it’s telling about my own deep longing for societal support structures in the childbearing year, but I read about the forced, isolated communal lives of these women with a degree of idealization. Things must be pretty freakin’ bleak in contemporary childbearing culture if one can read about a brutal society in which pregnancy and birth are strictly regulated by pernicious pseudo-religious male overlords and think: hey, at least those women all are in it together!
Read about another entry on the list.

The Handmaid's Tale made Michael W. Clune's top five list of books about imaginary religions, Jeff Somers's top six list of often misunderstood SF/F novels, Jason Sizemore's top five list of books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, S.J. Watson's list of four books that changed him, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, art, film, and television, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Charlie Jane Anders and Kelly Faircloth's list of the best and worst childbirth scenes in science fiction and fantasy, Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of the top Arthur C. Clarke Award winners, and PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time.

--Marshal Zeringue