Completely gratuitous picture of Sylvie wearing a pink foam crown. She looks a bit apprenhensive about her responsiblities as a monarch, don't you think?
Yesterday Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs, which I'd preordered a few weeks ago, arrived. As soon as the kids were asleep I dove into it. It's written from the point of view of a college-aged babysitter (or perhaps more accurately, a middle-aged woman looking back on her experience as a college-aged babysitter) and so there are plenty of funny, insightful passages about pregnancy and babies. Like this one, about the protagonist Tassie's potential employers:
One forty-ish pregnant woman after another hung up my coat, sat me in her living room, then waddled out to the kitchen, got my tea, and waddled back in, clutching her back, slopping tea onto the saucer, and asking me questions. "What would you do if our little baby started crying and wouldn't stop?" "Are you available evenings?" "What do you think of as a useful educational activity for a small child?" I had no idea. I had never seen so many pregnant women in such a short time -- five in all. They alarmed me. They did not look radiant. They looked reddened with high blood pressure and frightened. "I would put him in his stroller and take him for a walk," I said.
It's true. Most forty-ish pregnant women look far from radiant. It's only the twenty-something pregnant women who look radiant. Mind you, most twenty-somethings tend to look radiant anyway.
Lorrie Moore is one of my favourites -- I absolutely adore her self-conscious jokiness and word-play. She's so zingy and yet heartrending at the same time. Take this little remark, apparently tossed off, from a description of Tassie's depressive mom:
...one year the holiday card my mother sent out was an October photo of my brother and me, with a caption that read The children. In some dead leaves.
Remove the "one year" (for the purposes of word count) and you've got an entire award-winning twitter-sized short short story right there. Ernest Hemingway and his "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" can eat his heart out.