Novelist McCracken (Niagara Falls All Over Again, 2001, etc.) relates her struggle to deal with the tragedy of a stillborn son.
She begins with a bizarre comment from a fan who suggested, years before the author miscarried, that she ought to write a book “about the lighter side of losing a child.” McCracken continually revisits this comment in a memoir as slim and piercing as a stiletto. She gradually reveals the horrors of her experience, peeling back layers of memories to reach the most haunting one: delivering her son two days after she learned that he was dead. In a series of artful vignettes, the author staggers rather than glides through her story. Quick, sometimes painful glimpses delineate her adored husband, her writing career, friends who did the right thing and friends who didn’t. McCracken and her English spouse were living in rural France during her first pregnancy. They playfully called the fetus Pudding, “for some complicated, funny-only-to-the-progenitors reason.” They visited several doctors, none terribly satisfactory, and so decided to have a midwife deliver. Immediately following the baby’s death on April 27, 2006, they burned much of what they’d bought for their son and fled to England, then to America, where she had a teaching position waiting. Just a few months later they learned she was pregnant again, and the couple again bounced from one doctor to another until they found a woman they loved. Their son Gus was born one year and five days after they lost Pudding. Through it all, McCracken struggled to write and to forgive herself. “Closure is bullshit,” she declares, but her memoir shows her achieving a sort of peace, though never a mindless tranquility.
Notable for its spare, intense prose and the author’s self-deprecating frankness about her failures as well as those of her loved ones.