With wrenching precision, 79 women recall their mothers in original letters, essays, poems, and stories, evoking basic truths about the inescapability of mother-daughter similarities, the lifelong rapture of mother for child, and the daughter's unquenchable longing for mother after her death. Contributors range from established literary figures (Joyce Carol Oates, Rosellen Brown) to less well known writers and artists. Some of these pieces reveal anger at a mother's abandonment or at failure to protect a child from violence. All of them seek to relive the past, especially those moments when (as Lynne Sharon Schwartz says of her mother's singing) ``life becomes more than itself, so intense and fulfilled that we wish it could be that way always.'' Most also express need—``how much I need to reach out and touch your hand,'' Carol Shields says of her long-deceased mother—and the realization that querying the source of one's predilections is often unnecessary. As Ellen Gilchrist tells her mother: ``Every morning you think the world is beginning all over and all will be well with the world. I think so too. Where do you think I got an idea like that?'' Edited by novelist Warloe (The Legend of Olivia Cosmos Montevideo, 1994), the pieces are well-chosen, with every type of revelation expressed. But the mass of memories raises the question: How many truths can one take in a book? Maybe not as many as are presented here. The problem is that the letters are addictive: Like listening to a top-40 station, you hang on to hear what's next. What will Rita Dove say? Andrea Barrett? Barbara Kingsolver? Whether exhausted or delighted by the book, be warned: Memories of one's own mother may arise and wilt the page with tears. Best to punctuate the readings with a viewing of Albert Brooks's Mother. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-671-56324-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1997

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Despite Meyer's unusual perspective, this journal contains memorable passages of joy and sorrow for parents and children of...



A 70-something reflects on becoming the father of his sixth child at age 59.

Meyer fathered three sons during the Vietnam War era while married to his first wife. A journalism professor at California State University-Long Beach, he entered a second marriage to a student 27 years his junior, fathering two daughters and a son. After much agonizing about balancing career and family, Meyer took early retirement from his teaching to become a parent and a home-based freelance writer. Before his retirement, the first batch of his diary-like entries became a book, 1989's My Summer With Molly: The Journal of a Second Generation Father. After retirement, he became a regular journal-writer, musing about parenting and dozens of related threads. Just as Molly dominated the first collection of entries, son Franz dominates the second collection. At turns doctrinaire, old fuddy-duddy, self-deprecating, melancholy, humorous, even hip, Meyer is a thoughtful guide through daily life. The seemingly oblique title becomes clear in the context of the W.B. Yeats' quotation from which it is derived: "An aged man is but a paltry thing / A tattered coat upon a stick unless / Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing / For every tatter in its mortal dress..." Meyer sounds ageist at times, but throughout, he is determined to fight his own aging and to serve as a good husband and father. Eschewing sentimentality much of the time, Meyer can't help occasionally lapsing into teary-eyed territory. He concludes that "geezer fatherdom" is worth the costs, that "in the end, there is only love, active and remembered, to warm the chill of a cooling universe."

Despite Meyer's unusual perspective, this journal contains memorable passages of joy and sorrow for parents and children of all ages.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-942273-05-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A generally clear-minded, empowering book by a sympathetic professional who might well cause readers to wish he were their...



A physician shares anecdotes—some sentimental, some dry-eyed—about his youthful patients and their parents.

Rao, trained as a physician in both India and the U.S., settled 26 years ago in Porterville, Calif., where in addition to treating patients, he writes a medical advice column for the local newspaper—many of the brief chapters in the book appeared previously in the Porterville Recorder as columns. Arranged more or less by topic, the chapters cut across a wide swath of medical practice: the stages of child development, the freedom needed to grow up healthy, preventive medicine, curing illnesses when prevention has failed, good nutrition practices, the impacts of drugs on patients, the conundrums of heredity, medical wonders, the evolution of medical practice, the role of curiosity in medical treatment, medical detective work, curing patients facing daunting odds, the importance of family support, and the role of prayer. Rao's first-person narration addresses parents in a chatty, reassuring manner. He eschews alarmism in favor of optimism, setting parents at ease about rearing children who are healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually. He is sincere when he advocates laughter as a potent medicine, noting that an effective doctor not only laughs with his patients, but listens well, exudes compassion, expresses empathy and is highly trained in his field. At times, he seems overly rosy in his outlook, as when he suggests that state medical boards assist parents in determining a specific physician's complaint record—many state medical boards refuse to discuss complaints against physicians with patients. Such questionable advice is rare, however, as Rao presents positive and helpful advice for healthy parenting.

A generally clear-minded, empowering book by a sympathetic professional who might well cause readers to wish he were their family doctor.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 0-9749761-0-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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