A dryly humorous memoir/guidebook about pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood by the Man Booker Prize–winning Irish novelist.
Enright (The Forgotten Waltz, 2011, etc.) was married to her husband for nearly 20 years before they decided to have children. Having always assumed, vaguely, that she would be a mother, she first wanted to focus on her writing career. Divided into several-dozen short chapters, the book offers dispatches from the frontlines of first-time parenthood. Enright gracefully moves between straight facts, disarmingly funny admissions, her own unexpected revelations and experiences and conversational second-person directives. In "Babies: A Breeder's Guide," the author organizes the narrative into categories that include “Home Birth,” “Naming,” “Burps, Burp!, Burp!,” “Evolution” and “How to Panic,” to name a few. Throughout, Enright displays a great sense of humor, calling to mind two similarly themed memoirs: Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions (1993) and Rachel Cusk's A Life's Work (2002). Enright's conclusions are far more optimistic than Cusk's, but she shares Lamott's talent for drawing the reader fully into her writing with her frank and comic tone. She's equally honest about the difficult, boring aspects of becoming a parent, although Enright's humor works better than her seriousness. While she doesn't shy away from revealing in vibrant detail the traumas and upheavals involved in pregnancy and parenthood, it's her talent for elevating otherwise menial complaints into universal truths that makes the book compelling. Fans of Enright's novels and short stories, especially parents or those contemplating parenthood, will be interested in her perspective.
A winning and witty take on a well-covered topic.