A Few More Pages: Life With Books

One reader chronicles her journeys from cover to cover.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Confessions of a Slacker Mom (Muffy Mead-Ferro)

Confessions of a Slacker Mom
by Muffy Mead-Ferro

This is the ideal style of book for a slacker mom: short (though it has lots of pages), large font, and spacious margins. It's great to look into the clean pages and pretend my house is as clear and organized.

Mead-Ferro's observations and arguments are welcome and funny for most new parents. It's hard not to get caught up in the frenzy of hyper-safety consciousness and utterly insane micro-documentation of the details of my child's life. How on Earth can I bubblewrap every object in my house and hold a camera (or preferably two: one video and one still) at the same time? Aren't pinking shears verboten items for any baby-friendly home anyway?
Mead-Ferro offers entertainment and perspective in chapters like "There Goes Harvard" and "Just Dip the Whole Thing in Bronze."

She misses the mark with stay at home moms in "Has Anyone Seen My Instinct?" In defending working mothers, she inadvertently seems to argue that moms who leave careers for childrearing should only do so if it is exactly what they want to do. She gives good examples of kids being proud of their working mother's real world skills.

Although I'm pleased to be able to stay home with my son, I can't say that periodically being doused with bodily fluids and having sweet potatoes sprayed on me is exactly "following my bliss." My bliss is around here somewhere, but it's a place we all visit rather than a place anyone lives. In my working career I had periodic bliss, but there were some days when you just felt covered in bodily fluids (though metaphoric rather than literal). Maybe some humans live without passionate & clear career goals... It doesn't mean I'm unhappy or lack introspection- it may just say that my life goals are more general in nature (how I hope to treat others or improving the world around me one corralled shopping cart and one cloth grocery bag at a time).

I think kids can be proud of parents who aren't in a systematic professional environment. I hope my son will see my love for inquiry and the same skills that helped me professionally even though I no longer get paid for what I do. When I worked, I brought skills and traits with me to the job which were further developed- I didn't enter as a blank slate, and I hope I left with more than a few boxes of books and desk paraphernalia.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book (so I hate to have spent so much time criticizing a fraction of a chapter). I'd just hate to recommend it without reservation and let it get another mom-in-the-trenches feeling bad about herself...

Never Let Me Go (Kazou Ishiguru)

Never Let Me Go
by Kazou Ishiguru

The first three quarters of this book held my rapt attention. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the characters were unsettling, and I kept trying to put together the larger scenario that would create such a microcosm. The central character's limitations of childhood memory and comprehension really added convincing uncertainty to the narrative.

If only I had stopped reading. As the mysteries are revealed, they lead to no further character action or insight. The novel goes from a breakneck pace to a painful plod and the rest of the novel carries on like a necessary dental operation: mundane and uncomfortable.

Outside the novel's own epistomology, its underlying premise is so inefficient that the whole social system is implausible (even in a fantastic world). It was disappointing to see such a talented storyteller lose the narrative mid-story. It was really defeating to hear the mystery's revelation and recognize that the whole fictional epistomology I've invested so much interest in is completely ridiculous.

I would attempt another Ishiguru book, but won't be rushing out to find another soon.