The book is called "Baby Love" -- which must piss off Joyce Maynard (if not Diana Ross) -- and subtitled "Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence."
The Arts section article, by New York Observer editor Alexandra Jacobs, has a deliciously grouchy first paragraph that blames birth control for the genre of "mom-oirs." If it's a choice -- Choosing Motherhood! -- you've got a story to tell, right? Good for you. I support free choice about motherhood, but that doesn't mean I want to hear the details of how you made the very mundane choice. The details of a commonplace story can be worth reading. It might even make the best reading -- if you're the best writer. Just as motherhood is not destiny, however, having a mother who is a writer doesn't automatically make you a writer.
Jacobs clearly detests Walker's book, which she calls "merely a paean to pampering."
A Tibetan doctor, the daughter of one of the Dalai Lama’s private physicians, offers her 'little silk bags of herbs”; hovering in the background, meanwhile, are an osteopath, doula, pedicurist and masseuse....But that could be good if brilliantly described, self-aware, and hilarious, don't you think? (I'm thinking of this Spalding Gray book.) Maybe Jacobs is jealous. [ADDED: And maybe -- maybe, baby -- the book sucks.]
Not to begrudge the author such luxuries, but there was no need to make the world privy to them.
I'd rather hear Walker tell about that estrangement from the famous writer/mother. That's an inherently more interesting subject, and not just because we love celebrities. The desire for an infant has nothing to do with a particular individual. Even if you honor your unborn child as an individual, that individual is an abstraction. It's when that baby develops a mind of its own that the story gets interesting.
So let's check out the Style piece. It's called "Evolution of a Feminist Daughter," and that title caught my attention. Yet there's nothing in this article that connects the mother's feminism to the daughter's estrangement. The most interesting thing here is that before becoming a mother, Rebecca Walker wrote about how the relationships you make are just as important as blood connections, but in her new memoir she takes it back. Confronted on the contradiction, she says she came upon the first idea to deal with her own problems with her parents, and that having a child changed her mind.
“To grapple with how my parents raised me I had to come up with a philosophy that could sustain me. Having my own child gave me the opportunity to have a completely different experience. So hence a different view.”This shaping and reshaping of ideas to go along with one's condition in life is thoroughly human, but it unless the writer is sharp and funny and self-aware about it, why would you want to read her?