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Little Labors (Paperback)

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There is so much density of thought and feeling contained in this beautiful tiny book about new motherhood that it feels like holding a collapsed star. Each essay, some only a sentence long, reads like traveling through a winding tunnel of light—Galchen telegraphs with utter clarity the total chaos of her mind, grown more chaotic now that she’s caring for a baby girl (“a puma moved into my apartment, a near-mute force”). The tension between being a writer and being a new mother, of having an identity once wrapped around the deepness of one’s thoughts now wrapped around the deepness of one’s maternal love, is present throughout, but the book resists being defined, just as it resists coasting on its own intelligence. “The theory may not hold water, but has at least a dense enough weave to keep in place a few oversized bouncy balls.” This might as well be Galchen’s mission statement, though I think it too modest. Just about every one of her lines in this marvelous book contains the esoteric, yet playful wisdom of an aphorism. 

— From Lillian


In this enchanting miscellany, Galchen notes that literature has more dogs than babies (and also more abortions), that the tally of children for many great women writers--Jane Bowles, Elizabeth Bishop, Virginia Woolf, Janet Frame, Willa Cather, Patricia Highsmith, Iris Murdoch, Djuna Barnes, Mavis Gallant--is zero, that orange is the new baby pink, that The Tale of Genji has no plot but plenty of drama about paternity, that babies exude an intoxicating black magic, and that a baby is a goldmine.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780811222969
ISBN-10: 0811222969
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication Date: March 26th, 2019
Pages: 144
Language: English