A sex worker from Nebraska offers a series of vignettes illustrating her complex relationships with motherhood and her past.
Rather than a linear narrative, Fitzgerald, author of the children’s book How Mamas Love Their Babies, bounces among times, places, and formats to tell her story. Some of the fragments are descriptions of her relationships with women, anecdotes that range from a description of a trauma her grandmother experienced in Appalachia to a memory of “nuzzling the soft spaces of [a former lover’s] neck” and missing “the way she speaks Greek when she doesn’t want me to know that she’s talking shit.” Other chapters are brief scenes: a gathering of queer women on a feminist pornography set describing their experiences of motherhood while the author breastfeeds her new baby; the author reading her phone-sex clients “entire books on feminist theory” in order to pay her grocery bill. Elsewhere, Fitzgerald presents transcriptions of her childhood diary entries, many of which are addressed to X-Files actor Gillian Anderson. Collectively, the pieces illustrate the unique story of a sex worker with a doctorate in sociology attempting to raise a child while grappling with her past experiences of sexual assault. The author alludes to—but does not expand upon—additional traumatic experiences, including giving birth to a stillborn child and struggles with addiction. At its best, this “kaleidoscopic” text glimmers with vulnerability and wit. Fitzgerald is a talented wordsmith, and many of the fragments read like poetry. The book leaves some central questions unanswered—most notably, why Fitzgerald’s family “threatened to kill” her—resulting in a text that leaves readers with a visceral stab of emotion rather than a clear picture of the author’s trajectory, purpose, or intentions. Still, the author is a sharp observer and talented writer, and readers will hope for more work from her in the future.
A lyrical, innovative memoir about sex, parenting, and addiction.