THE ZYGOTE CHRONICLES by Suzanne Finnamore


Email this review


Finnamore, whose Otherwise Engaged (1999) detailed a wedding engagement from proposal to ceremony, uses the same formula with pregnancy. The effect is like a long evening spent watching slides of someone else’s trip to Niagara Falls.

The Zygote Chronicles reads less like a novel in journal form than like a journal that’s been novelized, particularly since the authorial acknowledgments make it clear that no names have been changed to protect the innocent—or guilty. The narrator, last name Finnamore, begins with inception, which occurs after a romantic dinner, although the teller glosses over the sexy part. Then begins the countdown. At six weeks, things are still romantic with the father-to-be—presumably a case of love at first sight—who assures the narrator that every month she’s pregnant she’ll grow only more beautiful. By eight weeks, nausea has set in. With a jokiness that would seem tired on most TV sitcoms, Finnamore tells us which foods she can no longer stomach and how sensitized her olfactory senses have grown. She slides in some liberal guilt about the rosy future her child is likely to have in contrast to the lives of the have-nots in her old neighborhood, and she offers the unborn child moral pieties about sexism and homophobia. In the least cloying sections, she ponders her own less-than-ideal family and her husband’s more romantic roots. Mostly, she offers up an assortment of petty complaints and small moments of joy (hearing the heartbeat, feeling the movement, seeing the sonogram) that come across as generic and far less interesting than most women will remember from their own experience. Still, one does have to admire the narrator’s honesty about her weight when she tips the scales above 180. The only true moment of excitement occurs when the narrator has an emergency C-section. Mother and baby do fine and return home, no doubt ready to start a follow-up on baby’s first year.

Naval gazing of the most self-indulgent sort.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8021-1706-6
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2001