Lessons in Taxidermy
Bee Lavender

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.

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Bee Lavender and Maia Rossini (eds)

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.”

Ariel Gore and Bee Lavender (eds)

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.

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