Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Creative Nonfiction

I am about two-thirds of the way through RebeccaWalker Gives Privileged, Navel-Gazing Feminist Hypocrits a Bad Name. Honestly, with a subtitle like this book has - "Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivelence" - well! How could any book be more interesting? Ring more bells for me? Be more 'up my alley'?

I'm sorry, but this is crap. This woman delivers keynote speeches? Writes books that are required reading in gender studies? (So says the flap.) It's possible that her less-creative nonfiction is defensible, but this pile is just painful.

Plus there's the whole mother thing. The author's mom is Alice Walker, an intermittantly fine novelist and, apparently, a rather crap mother. A conflicted mother. A mother who saw her children as keeping her from her real life's work. And who, by all accounts, did not try too hard to keep that feeling a secret.

(Hmmm. Perhaps there's an unintentional insight for me in this book after all.)

Anyway, Rebecca and Alice have a strained relationship, and have decided to conduct it almost exclusively on paper, in published essays and interviews. Granted, pregnancy does bring all one's mother business to the top of the agenda. One could hardly write an honest memoir of pregnancy and not talk about mom stuff, especially if the old girl's still around.

But R. Walker, after pages of, alternately
"My mother was so disappointing. I am still reeling from the damage of a disappointing mother. As I detailed at length in my last 2 books."
"I cannot imagine why my mother is so petty and vindictive. (Here, let me give you some examples.) All I'm doing is claiming my truth. How can that make her so angry? All I want is a little love and approval."

writes something I find just jaw-dropping.

She had gone to visit her mother, and says that she was uncomfortable being alone with her. And then she says:
"but I kept thinking about Marvin Gaye and how he was killed by his own father."

Christ Almighty.

This woman is either a complete idjit, or disingenuous to the point of being shockingly evil. And I cannot tell which.

Many people seem to have a high opinion of her writing, which makes me lean towards the latter.

And it's not that I'm offended because it's Alice Walker, oooh, big feminist icon. I don't care who it is. You don't just casually drop 'I kept wondering if my mother was going to kill me over dinner' into a general interest hardback. As a little digression.

And then wonder why she's so upset.

On page 76, R Walker says:
"... For the twenty-five-thousandth time, I apologized for telling my truth in a way that hurt her, and told her that I tried to protect her the best way I knew ..."

The Marvin Gaye aside is 11 pages later.

But somehow, I can't stop reading it. The power of the pregnancy narrative, I suspect. But I kind of want to see what stunner she comes up with next.

No comments: