The “slice of life” or realistic autobiographies that have been emerging by mothers more recently are
recognizable by more than their use of the word “fuck.”
Yet, this diction does serve to immediately alert the reader that this mother’s autobiography is not going to read like Please Don’t Eat the Daisies
. Nevertheless, confusion may occur.
I first saw Kathryn Grody’s autobiography, A Mom’s Life
, at Harry W. Schwartz Children’s Bookshop. Schwartz’s children’s store, which I had some time ago dubbed “Schwartz, Jr.,” was at that time located two doors down from the “adult” Schwartz bookstore in an affluent suburban mall. The children’s bookshop, now closed, was geared toward upwardly mobile parents with uniformly above-average children. The bookstore was antiseptically wholesome, with its juvenile books tastefully displayed and carefully screened.
Grody’s book was the focus of a Mother’s Day display. Surrounding Grody’s books were entry blanks for the children to write an essay describing why their mother was the best mother in the world. Grody’s book, apparently representative of motherhood, was described as providing “the unique joys of motherhood . . . funny and jolly . . . provocative . . . a delight.” The description on the book jacket depicted the book similarly: “It’s a three-ring circus of sticky fingers, flying food and creative clowning. It’s ketchup on tuna fish and the perfect recipe for soap bubbles.”
Kathryn Grody herself is pictured on the cover, holding toys and a kitchen appliance while sitting on a (sketched in) baby stroller. Grody’s expression is a mixture of exhaustion and sardonic good-humor When I bought the book, I expected a domestic autobiography in the style of Erma Bombeck.
By the time I reached the third page of Grody’s book, I was laughing. Grody, describing her growing frustration with her baby’s crying, writes:
please go to sleep, please go to sleep, please damn it, please go to sleep!” . . . . I would sit on the hallway floor outside his room, listening to these intense shrieks. Waaaaahhhhhhhhh! “Please God, let this stop.” Waaahhhhh! “Shit. Fuck. Why are five minutes taking forever?” (14,15)
. . . Clearly, no one at the children’s bookshop had previewed the book. Instead, literally judging the book by its cover, as I had also done, the book was selected because it looked harmless, just another funny mother story.
Although her writing is uneven, Grody is funny, but she makes no effort to hide or smooth over the real frustration a parent often experiences.from a prior publication