Against Motherhood Memoirs
How to describe the current motherhood-memoir nexus? Owing to commercial pressures, nonfiction books by women writers dealing in any way with motherhood are unlikely to be sold as books of thinking, exploration, reportage, cultural critique or all the above. Instead they are dubbed motherhood memoirs. At the same time writing about mothering has become constrained, made predictable, by certain memoiristic tropes, vocabularies, intensities and scales. I don’t want to make any big declarations about how when you spit in a bookshop you hit a memoir, except to note it’s not only women, it’s brain surgeons, the children of spies, young writers with hybrid identities, survivors of trauma, each getting pushed down the memoir route by their publishers or agents or maybe by their own sense of what kind of books are possible and wanted.