I recently picked up Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge (2008) from the ‘new’ section of the library, namely because it sounded familiar. Then I noted the Pulitzer sticker, awarded in 2009. In addition, it won a 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. With none of the characters exactly likeable, all deeply flawed and complicated, it’s an enthralling read. The density of experience is something I could only ever hope to achieve on the page. Now, Olive Kitteridge is not exactly a mom to be celebrated for Mother’s Day (some may disagree). This book is about aging, more than anything else.
That said, what “mom” books have I enjoyed? I have a hard time recalling any except for Beth Ann Fennelly’s Tender Hooks, a book of poetry I read shortly after my son was born. If you need a gift for a mother, you can’t go wrong with Tender Hooks, unless she is expecting jewels—but then why not get both? Bling + literature = Mother’s Day success. And, maybe throw some food in there too. Or,
booze wine. I’ll take care of one part for you:
At Flavorwire, Emily Temple posted a list: “10 of the Best Memoirs about Mothers.”
Two titles that look especially compelling are Alison Bechdel’s second work of non-fiction, Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club. Bechdel’s book is a graphic memoir. Having recently fallen for Bill Willingham’s Fables, I’d love to take a look.
Also on the list is Megan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye, which I’ve been meaning to read. It seems like something one needs to think on for a while, to work up to. I have no doubt it is brilliant, but I’ll wait until I feel open to immersing myself in the themes.
Novel, stories, poetry, or memoir—what books about mothers do you recommend, have you enjoyed, or would you give as a gift? Please let us know in the comments.