Amazon.com recommended this book to me and since it was so reasonably priced and close to the lack of control on spending that is the holidays I decided to take a chance, and I am so very glad that I did. This anthology is so good in fact, that I can't keep it all to myself. I am going to give it away once I'm done. I'll buy another one later - when I want to read something again, and do the same with it.
I knew I would love it halfway through the introduction because they started referencing all these writers/editors whose work I loved - Ariel Gore, Mothers who Think, etc. Also, they list many names that I haven't heard, giving me new books to explore after I am finished with this one.
I've only finished the first section, but every single one of those prose pieces has spoken some universal truth that struck me very hard and deeply. Longing for solitude, anxiety on how the world will treat a unique child and the despair that it might be "beaten" out of her, children as unknowing masters of allusion and metaphor... not ten minutes after reading that line my daughter compared a dead leaf still clinging to the tree, blowing gently in the wind to a worm on a see saw, other lines mention how children have helped the writer slow down and pay attention to the "now," when other mothers warned her that life was about to get much faster.
Great, great stuff.
I was immediately brought back to an advanced writing course I took in college. My daughter was an infant and I tried to use that course to sublimate the anxieties from having my life completely transformed. However - it was a course full of college kids and was even TAUGHT by a college kid (a graduate student)! They didn't trash my work by any means, but NONE of them, not even the teacher, could relate.
There is a piece in this book, which the Web site dubbs a "literary reflection," that references Henry David Thoreau and Walden Pond.
This peice is special to me in particular because we had covered Thoreau - a walking piece - in the writing class. Mine was rather Seinfeldian, about nothing, but I wanted it to flip between a woman "living in the moment" and her fight with all the stupid minutiae that gets in the way of that, what to cook for dinner, etc. I wasn't successful - but I didn't have the words to explain what I was trying to do. The piece in that book helped me find those words. Man, when my teacher said that the best way to learn good writing is to read good writing - she wasn't kidding. The story in this book triggered my mind to be able to work on a peice that I hadn't touched in FIVE YEARS!
This book is not just for writers, however. I spent those five years READING in order to preserve my sanity, not writing.
The final evidence that you should get this book - you're just going to have to trust me on this one - I was actually underlining passages that felt like they were directly for me. I assure you that I don't do that, and I used to scoff at those who did. I thought it was incredibly pretentious and just plain dorky.
But now I get it. I hope you will too.