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I first heard about Kyran Pittman’s memoir, Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life, via Twitter. I followed all the links, excited that there was finally a new “momoir” on the shelves.
Publishers have long tired of the sub-genre and think there’s no market for it. But I think they’re totally wrong. There’s a huge market for it – it’s just the publishers, in their cubicle bubbles think it’s a trend that has passed its due date. Wrong.
After at least a few years of very slim pickings of momoirs, I bought the book and couldn’t wait until my kids were in bed to dig in and read. I had read an excerpt online, about how her husband quit his corporate advertising job to start his own company, about how the economy tanked right about the same time, forcing sell their house and move to a smaller one. It was published in Good Housekeeping and it was a fantastic read.
Unfortunately, it was the best part of the book. The book is made up of a series of stories that aren’t connected together in any way other than their subject matter – Kyran’s “semi-domesticated” life. I thought she could have spent more time and effort making better transitions and assuming people would read the whole book and not introducing characters in a story half way through that we already knew from previous chapters.
But my biggest problem with the book was the premise: a former wild child, party girl, Kyran “jumps the white picket fence” and finds domestic bliss. Okay, I get that domestic stuff can be blissful. I do wish I stayed home full time with my kids. It is a full time job. But there’s nothing in the book to indicate she really was a wild child, other than a passing reference to a drop-it-all, trip to Mexico where she stayed until her money ran out. The book doesn’t provide a real glimpse into her wild past to convince us the jump over the picket fence really was that big.
And really, is it that big a jump for any of us? It’s called becoming an adult. As a result, her book can be, at times, predictable:
“I was somewhat prepared for the physical and emotional exertion of raising children. I knew there’d be sweat and tears. But I had no idea how mentally challenging the gig would be. Planning and strategy is a huge aspect of it. I am the family secretary, social director and chief purchases. I plan menus, oversee nutrition, do the budgeting, pay the bills, maintain the filing, schedule appointments, coordinate recreation and liaise on my kids’ behalf with teachers, room parents, coaches, health professionals and other parents. That’s on top of all the cooking, cleaning, driving, and schlepping.”
But…but…before you give up on her, it’s also really funny and entertaining and despite all my criticism, I’m glad I read it. Here’s one part where she’s discussing post-baby sex that had me laughing out loud:
“Not the breasts!” I hissed, blocking him with my elbows. Any contact with them would set the baby off like a car alarm. Breast-fed babies have a biometric feature that enables them to detect mammary trespass through walls. Their heads will detonate by remote if anyone else so much as breathes near their mother’s nipples. All infants are exquisitely sensitive to ambient sexual activity, or for that matter, sexual thoughts. A three-month-old will reliably sleep for several hours at a stretch with one parent staring vacantly into a computer and the other watching infomercials in a neighboring room. But a mere neck-nuzzle on the way to refill the chip bowl releases sex pheromones that travel through the baby monitor, into the nursery where they scald the baby, who wakes up enraged like the giant in Jack and the beanstalk.”
What do you think? Do you think there are too many “momoirs” like this one out there? Do you like reading them?
Next Month’s Book: Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home