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The Literary Review – Fall 2010

The theme for this is “Refrigerator Mothers: ‘Just happening to defrost enough to produce a child’…and other things we said that we wish we could take back,” and I would recommend it to any writer who is a mother or expecting mother. The issue includes short stories and poems from the perspective of mothers and some from the perspective of the writer thinking back on their mother. “A Good Day,” an essay by Jessie van Eerden, is a moving, detailed look at the seemingly ordinary, everyday aspects of her mother that defined her.

The theme for this is “Refrigerator Mothers: ‘Just happening to defrost enough to produce a child’…and other things we said that we wish we could take back,” and I would recommend it to any writer who is a mother or expecting mother. The issue includes short stories and poems from the perspective of mothers and some from the perspective of the writer thinking back on their mother. “A Good Day,” an essay by Jessie van Eerden, is a moving, detailed look at the seemingly ordinary, everyday aspects of her mother that defined her.

Susan Rothbard’s work stood out in this issue. Her poems are from the viewpoint of a mother, taking in the sweet, the hard, sometimes bitter aspects of motherhood. Her beautiful poem “Feeding the Birds” describes her and her husband’s new hobby of bird watching, and her fight to keep grackles from the lawn, preferring the “cardinals, / jays, a goldfinch—that yellow most of all.” The poem concludes,

Now the empty suet feeder sways like a hanged
man on the branch where the grackles

had perched, and I watch from the window.
I could not choose my children this way.

Another poem that stands out in this issue is Kelli Russell Agodon’s “She Says What An Amazing Lamp,” a wry look at the mother, the one that everyone knows, who seems to live to make other mothers feel inferior. This mother is the one who “says even breakfast should be / educational, even dinner, even lunch” and says,

stay-at-home moms
are happier, having more sex,
and happier. She highlights happy
with a yellow pen, a sunlamp,
a shimmer.

The issue also includes a few short book reviews, and a conversation between Ceridwen Morris and Jenny Offill on “Is There Anything Literary About Motherhood?”
[www.TheLiteraryReview.org]

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