Friday, July 24, 2009
first of all, i love books with pictures. seriously, some of my favorite books ever are graphic novels, particularly when they're not novels at all, but memoirs (including fun home, persepolis, and maus, just to name a few). i had the opportunity to read nicole chaison's (illustrated/illuminated/graphic) book recently, and even to be kind of an official reviewer of it, with a reviewer's copy dropped off at my house by book fairies and everything. i don't know nicole well,* but our paths have crossed on a very regular and friendly basis over the past seven or eight years, and i've always had the sense that we were leading - if not parallel lives - similar and compatible ones (just one example of this is the time we spent simultaneously in the world of kids' scottish highland dancing. not a huge world, at least not in portland, maine. i've seen her dance at ceilidhs with her kids, and she's seen me, goofily, do the same). also, back when we had our book store, nicole would bring in her hand-drawn zine (hausfrau), which i'd stack tidily on the shelf next to the east village inky. and then i'd borrow myself copies of both to read and savor. more recently, she drove past me with her head out the window of her car, yelling, "hi liz! i'm reading infinite jest!!!" and i thought, "i like her."
well, let me tell you, this hausfrau can write. her book was pure pleasure - funny, beautifully written, and honest. i have a low tolerance for cute stories about other people's kids, but that's not what nicole does in this book, despite the fact that it's about being a mom of young children (and they seem, actually, like pretty great kids. and by "great" i mean strong-willed, eccentric, smart, impossible at times, and suddenly sweet at others). she is brave enough to show herself as confused, mixed-up, stanky-breathed, flabby, and all those other wonderful things that real women really are, and i kind of love her for it. i really can't imagine anyone who's been through the experience of becoming a mother, mothering, and growing a family who wouldn't find this book somehow both poignant and hysterically funny. i'm guessing there are even plenty of people who haven't experienced it who would also love it.
*okay, the weirdest thing about reading the passion of the hausfrau is that i feel like i owe nicole a long letter filled with lots of stories about myself, because now it feels like i've known her for years...