Born in poverty, diagnosed with cancer at age twelve, perilously pregnant at eighteen, surviving surgeries and accidents and violence: sometimes you can’t believe Bee Lavender is still alive; sometimes you think nothing could kill her. Lessons in Taxidermy is Lavender’s fierce and expressive search for truth, an elusive sense of safety, and freedom from the limits placed on working class lives. The author details her struggle for survival, her fight for an education, and the risks she took to elevate her own children out of poverty. But she is never a victim, and never complains about her circumstances: as her mother points out, the women in her family do not cry. They fight back. Pushed to the edge of existence, the author has to relearn how to talk, ride a bicycle, and make a fist. This autobiographical tale is stark and resolved, but strangely euphoric, tying together moments and memories into a frantic, delicate, and often transcendently funny account of anguish and confusion, pain and poverty, isolation and illusion. While staying conscious of the particulars, Lavender frames her life in the context of history, traveling, landscape, and freak show culture. This book will disarm all of your preconceived notions about growing up in poverty. Lessons in Taxidermy is apocryphal, troubling, cathartic, and important.
It is one of the many charms of this book that Lavender is not only aware of the conventions of such autobiographies but that she consciously rejects them. Her powerful, elegant memoir should be read by everyone.... as an example of what truly well-written and unflinching self-examination can be like.
... An unflinching, beautifully written memoir of a childhood lost to illness...
Highly readable, fast-flowing account of a life of fighting off death - literally.... an extraordinary tale.
Mamaphonic collects confessions and conversations about the exhilarating, entertaining, and difficult aspects of remaning creative while raising children. Essays range from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching, including voices as diverse as a transgendered teenage couple, academics, flamenco dancers, punk rockers and poets. One writer is diagnosed with a terminal illness during her pregnancy, and asks: “If you had only six months to live, what would you write?” Through essays, photographs, and illustrations, this disarming and eclectic mix proves that becoming a mother is an expression of creativity, not its silencing. “We flatly refuse to agree with the idea that becoming a mother is the end. Because it’s not. It’s the beginning.”
For all our supposed advancement since previous generations, the societal duress implicit in our concept of the "good mother" seems to linger. In perhaps no other career choice is the tension between the self-sacrifice of motherhood and the need for self-actualization felt more strongly than in artistic and literary pursuits. This theme-along with that of the practical obstacles and unexpected inspirations of creating while tending to one child or more-is repeatedly but not repetitiously examined in this collection of essays, practical guides, poetry, and illustrations edited by writer-mamas Lavender and Rossini. The pieces are as varied as the nature of the art created by their authors, including dancers, artists, photographers, writers, singers, and 'zine creators. Still, a sense of honesty, passion and, yes, intense motherly love is apparent throughout. Highly recommended for both family/relationship and arts and literature collections.
My next-to-favorite thing about Mamamphonic is the number of artisticcareers represented. There is a flamenco dancer, rock musicians, poets, and an illustrator who turned to making decorated cakes and cookies when her son was small. I loved reading about how to make a record label, and I loved Marrit Ingman's account of incorporating motherhood into her career as a film reviewer. This is my favorite thing about Mamahphonic: the adoration these women feel for their families, their joy (even on bad days) at the synthesis of motherhood and art.
Mamaphonic presents more than two dozen essays on what might be called the delicate balancing act of motherhood and artistic work, except that, as these contributors prove, the act is not so much delicate as it is messy, arduous, and absolutely essential.
Reading Mamaphonic is like being on a retreat with an enormously diverse and wise sisterhood of those who really understand punk rockers and dancers and researchers, cartoonists and cookie decorators, all pretty much in agreement: How do we do it? We don't know. To do it is difficult, but not to do it would be impossible.
By sharing their experiences and their stories, these creative women offer a gift to all mothers and mothers-to-be. And with that gift comes comfort and solace for those who may walk in their shoes creatively or otherwise.
They’ve been told they’re not old enough, not responsible enough, not financially stable enough. They’ve been asked why: Why now, why ever, and when are you going to stop? They’ve wiped noses and waited tables, packed lunches and taken babies to the shooting range. They’ve blended minivans with murals, tattoos with breastfeeding, band practice and the PTA. They’re breeders. They are women of a very different generation from their own boomer moms, and they never thought they had to choose between work and family. These young mothers believe they can do everything, and they valiantly face the challenges implied: how to balance work and family, how to create a community where none exists, how to liven up beans and rice for the third day in a row. This groundbreaking compilation creates a space where mothers from all backgrounds provide disarming thoughts on sex, infertility, birth, true love, bad boyfriends, and breast pumps. With its strength, humor, and wisdom, this collection is a must read for every young mother, and for anyone who wants a peak into the mind and the spirit behind those bleary eyes. Foreword by Dan Savage.
The contributors to this standout anthology from the editors of Hip Mama: The Parenting Zine are welfare moms, journalists, television writers, poets, and "social justice ninjas" women who "choose to have our kids while, not instead of, following our other dreams." The writers approach the task of parenting with determination, wit, self-awareness, and a serious dose of heterodoxy. The result is a kaleidoscopic look at life as a mother, with essays about a road trip; the neonatal ICU; battling depression and contemplating suicide; teaching your kid to fly a plane; even being 15 years old and having to fight an adoption counselor to keep your son. Whether you're a parent, parent-to-be, or nonparent, Breeder promises a satisfying and illuminating look at the latest reinventions of motherhood.
The voices of mothers--the real in-the-trenches voices of mothers--always threaten the status quo. Tell the truth about your ambivalence, rage, and passion--whether about miscarriage, breast pumps, or (as profiled here) your welfare-avoidance job as a stripper--and watch the general public recoil. But as every mother knows, there is nothing more comforting than finding another woman who is willing to sit in your kitchen and share the honest-to-God truth about mothering. So it takes a lot of best-girlfriend loyalty to write the gut-wrenching motherhood stories that you'll find in Breeder. And fortunately, coeditors Bee Lavender and Ariel Gore had enough grit and pluck to get them published.
It is the quality of the writing that sets Hip Mama apart. This site ultimately provides succor to moms who cannot relate to our culture's mawkish notions of motherhood. Yet although it is cool and sometimes sharp, Hip Mama wears its heart on its Gerbers-stained sleeve, defining "hip" not just as " aware, informed" but also as "a place where young children sit when they're tired of walking."
Hipmama.com was, without a doubt, the only parenting site on the Web that marked the passing of Joey Ramone. It was probably alone, again, when it posted this headline: "Who says moms aren't hot?" Bee Lavender-- writer, activist, mother -- is definitely hot. She is the very embodiment of extreme motherhood.
Fun and irreverent.
No sanctified endorsement of the usual myths about motherhood here. No neat checklists of all-too-easy parenting solutions or slick write-ups of professional experts telling how it's supposed to be. Hip Mama speaks (and listens) to parents who want or need to raise kids their own way.... Hip Mama explores the real stuff of parenting with a proper recognition of the ambiguity of it all--and plenty of love and humanity.
Proof that being a mother doesn't have to be boring -- or apolitical.
Traditional or not, the topics are handled with serious insight.