by Erma Bombeck ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 3, 1983
Their veins run with ambivalence."" So says veteran Mom--and Mom-watcher--Bombeck in this gathering of 42 short pieces about mothers in their infinite variety; and indeed, along with the familiar, snappy domestic one-liners, there are a dozen or so more serious essay-vignettes here (grim, sharp, inspirational) to darken the usual sit-com picture. Not that Mrs. B. has lost her light touch, of course. She starts off with an imaginary School for New Mothers (""CREATIVE NAGGING 101""), moves on to nostalgic-bitter musings on those perfect TV-moms of the past, offers ""Five Classic Motherhood Speeches"" (e.g., ""So you've decided to pierce your ears"")--and includes ironic, mildly amusing observations on such standbys as dogs, pacifiers, a son's long hair, mothers-who-brag, Christmas presents, babysitters, laundry, and a Primer of Guilt. (""S"" is for ""Sewing a mouse on the shirt pocket of son who is farsighted and telling him it's an alligator."" There's even a flight or two of fanciful farce, as when Bombeck reveals that Cinderella's stepma was Buffy Holtzinger, a working mother with two surly kids of her own plus the impossible Cinderella, daughter of Eugene, who ""split to get in touch with his feelings."" But interspersed among the just-okay gags are sketches of mothers whose problems are too real to laugh off: divorcÃ‰e Connie, age ""somewhere between estrogen and death,"" applying for a job with no skills but mothering; Pat, an adoptive mother telling off the ghost of her daughter's real mother (""Real is what gets a part-time job to pay for a baton that lights up""); Ginny, mother of a retarded child--beaten, angry, yet responsive to a tiny miracle; Ethel, forced to put her senile mother in a nursing home. And there's even the black-comic/ sentimental funeral of Julie, mother of three, dead from cancer at 48--plus a real-life letter from the mother of a criminal. (""I still love him, and it hurts."") Standard, middling Bombeck with a pinch of Dear Abby, then, but also with glimmers of a new cutting edge: an edgy combination that should hold the old fans. . . and maybe win a few new ones.
Pub Date: Oct. 3, 1983
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983
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