Check Out This Book Of Essays

That's quite some title, eh? If you're into getting attention, reading this book of essays, with its luscious and slightly lewd red-lipped mouth on the cover, on a cross-town bus will certainly get you some looks.
Robin Galguera

A spin on an old title
The title, of course, is a spin on the Victorian notion of "the angel in the house," i.e., the woman/mother whose duties included keeping the house in order and providing comfort and solace to every member of the family. She was the ever self-deprecating, martyr waif who put aside any needs in order to perform angelic acts for her family.

We've come a long way, babies
Boy, have times changed! At least according to the women whose essays are collected in The Bitch in the House(Perennial / HarperCollins) . These are gutsy women who are not afraid to take a stand, to voice an opinion that, while it may be honest, may rub some women the wrong way. I was continually surprised by the bluntness with which these writers wrote about their lives, about the state of marriage, family, and sex. I found their unflinching attitudes brave and refreshing. I found myself nodding with recognition over and over again.

Take, for example, Jill Bialosky's feelings on sex after kids:

My friends and I moaned about how tired we were. During dips in our conversation, I found myself looking at the teenage couple seated at a table, their chairs side by side. They kissed. My friend asked me about my marriage. 'Are you guys having sex?' she asked bluntly?.I wanted to laugh.

Or how about this description of motherhood, written by Eilssa Schappell:

I didn't want to be a bad mother. I wanted to be my mother -- safe, protective, rational, calm -- without giving up all my anger, because my anger fueled me.

It seems as though many women are surprised at how much anger can be a part of mothering and of how lower than low we can feel when we discover it the hard way after yelling at our wee ones or kicking the poor dog into the next county.

Read and discuss, please
The essays in The Bitch in the House feel as though they were written by a group of women who aren't afraid to speak the truth, even when it isn't pretty. This is not a dark book, however. There is plenty of humor and beauty to go along with the bitching. In an essay titled "The Perfect Equality of Our Separate Chosen Paths," novelist Pam Houston writes achingly beautiful prose about her indecision about becoming a mother when her childbearing years are quickly coming to a close.

These are essays that I believe will speak to you. You may not agree with what these writers are saying, but what they have to say -- and the bravery and honestly with which they do so -- should inspire you. I suggest buying this book for yourself and one for your best, tell-everything-to-her girlfriend. There are still so many taboo subjects and emotions that women feel the need to stifle. Haven't we been silent long enough? Let it rip with your girlfriend and then write some essays of your own!

Tags: book review

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