The Sunday Salon-Motherhood, Apple Pie, and…

The Sunday

Some things in American life are just sacred, aren’t they?  Like lemonade stands, baseball games, Thanksgiving dinner, apple pie and…birthday cake!  There happens to be one in my kitchen today – freshly homemade carrot cake, with smooth cream cheese frosting.  I’m getting out my best china too, because, after all, birthdays are cause to celebrate.  So do come in, and join the party.

Carrot cake is my favorite dessert, and I’m such a lucky girl to have a mother who is the world’s best baker.  And even though she’ll be 81 years old on her next birthday (which is coming up on Wednesday, by the way) she would never dream of letting my birthday pass by without a homemade cake.  She’s just that kind of mother.

So motherhood is on my mind today – well, actually, motherhood is on my mind a lot of the time.  You know I’ve just finished two very different books about motherhood – Men and Angels, and The Good Mother

Oh, and that book I abandoned -well, that was about motherhood too. 

So I moved on to The Gathering Place, the Booker Prize winning novel by Anne Enright, and yes, motherhood is seeming to figure prominetly there as well.  I’ve only just started the book, but it’s one of those quintessential Irish novels – the big, brooding family with lots of angst and emotional issues.  There are eleven children in this brood, and the mother of this lot has her plate quite full.

I’ve also started in on my third short story collection for the Short Story Challenge.  It’s called You Won’t Remember This, by Kate Blackwell.  I’ve only read two stories so far, but each one has a very strong mother-presence about it.  (As an aside, these are just delightful stories, real gems of characterization and setting.  I’m so glad I picked this one up from the library!)

So, what do you suppose accounts for this semi-obsession with motherhood in my reading life?  Is it that motherhood was such an important part of my life experience that I keep attempting to revisit it in my reading?  Or is it my penchant for observing and scrutinizing the experiences of other mothers, literary or otherwise?

I do know from all my reading – past and present – that I certainly “lucked out” in the mother department. 

And now, I’m going to have another slice of cake.  

After all, it’s my birthday.

Now tell me, do you find yourself gravitating toward books with a particular subject matter…like marriage, or death, or sibling relationships…or motherhood?


21 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon-Motherhood, Apple Pie, and…

  1. Happy Birthday from me and The Bears and pleeeeease do save us a slice of Carrot Cake. No one makes Carrot Cake as well as Americans. I used to have an American lecturer who, if I’m honest, was no great shakes as a teacher, but she made the most wonderful Carrot Cake.

    I have been avoiding the Enright. For some reason the reviews I’ve read have really put me off it. However, if I’m going to read the award winners I shall have to learn to be brave, so I’m going to be very interested to hear what you have to say. I really value your views.

    Have a wonderful day.

  2. Many Happy returns of the day! I want a piece of cake but alas, I can’t! I have severe stomach cramps!

    Yes, I too tend to deviate to particulat topics. But I makes myself read diverse stuff.

  3. Yup, Happee birfday to you, happee birfday to you, happee birfday Ravenous Reader, happee birfday to you…

    and I too have been put off the Enright for some reason – but maybe it’s great – look, forward to hearing what you think.

    I think I read mostly anything but I think maybe I do have a penchant for books where the characters have some sort of obsession.

  4. Happy, Happy Birthday!! I hope you have a wonderful day and are spoiled rotten by all your nearest and dearest.

    I’m researching the topic of motherhood, funnily enough, for a book I hope to write, so I can’t get away from them either. Once you start looking for mothers they pop up everywhere in fiction, and I agree – most of the stories I read show them in traumatic light, one way or another. I’m currently reading ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver, which is brilliant but possibly not for you right now, after your recent experience with difficult reading. I’m padding it out with a very cosy detective story, to give me chill out time! Now I see I need to read the Enright too!

  5. Happy Birthday.
    I am very disappointed because I could not find you the birthday present I was looking for.
    What I wish to give you is another short story about motherhood called “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen. But I wasn’t about to find a full text of it for you online. So I just have to trust you will find it for yourself. If anyone you know has a literature textbook check in there!!

    Let me know if you get around to reading it!

  6. Literary Feline: Birthday cake is so sacred in fact, that I had mine for breakfast and dinner as well 🙂

    Ann: I’ve also read some negative reviews on the Enright book. I happen to love Irish authors -they have a similar sensibility as the Southern US authors to me, with their slight bent to the dark side and the way in which they explore the “secrets” which lie at the heart of all family relationships. So far, I’m feeling fairly positive about this book – admittedly, I’ve only read 75 pages!

    Laura: I’m certainly counting my carrot cake as one of my vegetables for the day!

    Gautami: Goodness, I hope you’re feeling better! I’ll put a slice of cake in the freezer for you 🙂

    Clare D: I’ll let you know how the Enright progresses – so far, so good.

    Litlove: I’ve read Lionel Shriver’s latest (The Post Birthday World) and truly enjoyed it. She has a wonderul way with words. You’re smart to have some light reading on the side – a sort of sherbet to cleanse the palate!

    Iliana: Thank you! A book card from Borders was indeed among my gifts 🙂

    Megan: Thank you so much for the thougtful gift! I read that Tillie Olsen story a long, long time ago – way back in the early 80’s when I was in college! (You see how old I really am??) But you are right, it definitely bears re-reading in light of my current motherhood obsession.

    Ex Libris: And thank you for the good wishes! So far, my birthday has been quite lovely 🙂

  7. Happy Birthday Becca!!! Enjoy your carrot cake — a girl can never have too much cake (okay we can but so what?!) — have a piece for me too!!

    Let us know what you think of “The Gathering” — I read it awhile ago. It disturbed me.

    What do I find myself gravitating towards? Do you know I have never really thought about this. I read such a wide spectrum so now I am going away to think on this…my first impulse is to say that I am drawn to strong women characters — to women coming in to their own…

  8. Oh, carrot cake. I want some. Right now. Send it over the Internet and make it pop up by my computer. Please, please.

    I hope you had a happy birthday. It sounds like you have a wonderful mother. I know what that’s like because mine was as well. The last year before she had to go to a nursing home, when she was 89, she was still cooking Christmas dinner.

    What is unfortunate is that there are many people, my OH included, who were not fortunate enough to have this kind of mother. I fell badly for them.

  9. Sherry – I had carrot cake for dinner (really, I did!) It was yummy. I can see why you would find The Gathering disturbing – it’s not a happy novel by any means. And yes, I’m always drawn to stories with strong women chracters as well.

    Fireflynights – Some virtual carrot cake is on its way, forthwith.
    I’m glad you’re mother was one of the good ones – you must miss her terribly. And my husband was not one of the fortunate ones in the mother department either…so sad.

  10. Yum, Carrot cake!

    I definitely gravitate to certain books for their theme – mostly likely “loss” in some shape or form. It’s something I like to see explored in a fictional context.

  11. A happy belated birthday to you! I hope it was wonderful, and with that cake around it couldn’t have been any less than wonderful. I’m drooling as we speak.

    As far as the books to which I gravitate…my column for covers that this week. I tend to lean towards dramatic novels full of depressing stuff. However, ultimately I don’t find them terribly depressing at all.

  12. Happy Birthday, Becca! Hope you loved the carrot cake and that the rest of the day was as lovely.

    Have Becca-gras and let the birthday extend for many days!

  13. Teri- hello! and thanks for dropping in for my birthday celebration!

    Verbivore- “Loss” – that’s an interesting topic for exploration among fiction writers. The book I’m reading right now -Anne Enright’s The Gathering – focus’ on that subject quite heavily.

    Andi- The cake was wonderful, and there’s still some left 🙂
    And The Gathering would also qualify as a “dramatic novel full of depressing stuff.” It seems to be fitting everyone’s favorite category!

    Jeanie – Thank you for the good wishes! I’m in favor of letting the party continue 🙂

  14. Hope your birthday was wonderful! (How could it not be with carrot cake??) I don’t get carrot cake often, but it is so yummy!

    I don’t gravitate towards books with the theme of mothers… maybe when I have kids. I do really like fantasy/sci fi though. Especially YA fiction, and even more so if it has a strong female character.

  15. Pingback: sacred games novel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s