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Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood by Anne Enright

April 19, 2012

It’s a testament to Enright’s prodigious talent that I loved this book despite the fact that I don’t have children. It turns out Enright wasn’t keen on the whole procreation idea, initially, and waited until her late 30s to start a family. Once she took the leap, though, she was completely brainwashed with love for her wee ones.

However, this is not a warm and fuzzy paean to motherhood. Enright, who won the 2007 Man Booker Prize for The Gathering, is her usual irreverent and funny self in this collection of essays on various topics ranging from Too Much Information, On Giving Birth to a Genius, and What’s Wrong with Velcro? In one, she describes children in this manner:

“Children are actually a form of brainwashing. They are a cult, a perfectly legal cult. Think about it. When you join a cult you are undernourished, you are denied sleep, you are forced to do repetitive and pointless tasks at random hours of the day and night, then you stare deep into your despotic leader’s eyes, repeating meaningless phrases, or mantras, like Ooh da gorgeous. Yes, you are! Cult members, like parents, are overwhelmed by spiritual feelings and often burst into tears. Cult members, like parents, spout nonsense with a happy, blank look in their eyes. They know they’re sort of mad, but they can’t help it. They call it love.”

She is graphic and blunt in her description of what having a baby does to a woman’s body and says:

“But really – a baby rearranges your body, it shoulders your kidneys out of the way, it flattens your bladder with its head, squishes your intestines like an intemperate cook squeezing the meat out of a string of sausages; a baby obliges your legs to pop out of their sockets, and it doesn’t care whether they pop back in again once it is through – and where is all this happening? ‘Vagina’ is too small a word somehow – ‘vagina’ is just an indication of where its path might lie, ‘vagina’ is just a direction.”

In the end, Enright’s pithiness turns intimate as she relates her bouts with depression and then lands solidly on the bottom line which is:  When it comes to making babies – they are redemptive and she’s all for it. Making Babies is a delightful read!

W.W. Norton, 2012

One Comment
  1. Darrelyn Saloom permalink

    So glad I found your website. I adore Anne Enright and can’t wait to read Making Babies.

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