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For those who wonder how single women who choose to become mothers cope with the dual roles of caregiver and breadwinner, this provides something of an answer: a day at a time. For those who wonder how it feels, there are many answers. Freelance writer Lee (One by One, The Hand Book) considered at least three potential fathers for the baby she wanted to conceive, without the hassle of marriage, at age 30. She settled (with his enthusiastic consent) on a married government official (here, pseudonymously, Ian McClellan from Canada) whose top-secret oil dealings led to constant world travels and only an occasional visit to New York. There Were practical elements to the decision (he had ""good eyesight,"" ""good teeth,"" etc.); but it quickly becomes clear that Lee is more of a closet romantic than a classic feminist, so she chooses the man she feels most passionate about. Her sense of independence (she wanted ""no support"" from the baby's father) falters but never really fails, despite hard times economically and emotionally. The son born to them is everything she dreamed of, and more; but as he grows, she longs for more frequent and reliable contact with his father. Bitter words ensue, but Lee eventually discovers the reason for McClellan's frequent cancellations and self-preoccupation: he's dying of cancer. A three-week stay in Canada to catch a final glimpse of McClellan lands only one 15-minute encounter; an aide sends word to New York of his eventual death. This is a strange combination of star-crossed love story, daily log, supplementary research (on the origins of illegitimacy as a notion, for one), and sounding-off, But Lee has some interesting friends--including the New Yorker's Brendan Gill, for whom she worked part-time--and a way of gritting her teeth without seeming the martyr. The curious, for whatever reason, won't be disappointed.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1982
Publisher: Little, Brown