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May 30, 2010

Favourite literary babies

Thank you for the amazing response to my literary babies giveaway! My extra subscription to The New Quarterly has gone to Clare, whose name was that written on a scrap of paper plucked out of a yoghurt container by Harriet herself. Clare wrote, “…I think my favourite baby is Jem, Anne’s baby from Anne’s House of Dreams. It’s easily my favourite of the Anne books (maybe tied with Rilla of Ingleside) and Anne’s ecstasy over her little man is really sweet.”

If you’re really into babies in literature, I do urge you to check out the series of the same name at Crooked House.

Other entries were as follows, all fantastic: WitchBaby from Weetzie Bat, Rosemary’s Baby (and he was adorable), the baby from The Millstone by Margaret Drabble (which I now have to reread), the baby from Laisha Rosnau’s “Boy” from Lousy Explorers, the baby in Sara O’Leary’s Where You Came From as illustrated by Julie Morstad, Ede from F. Scott Fitzgerald “A Baby Party”, Pip from Swimming (yes yes yes!), Baby Nostradamus “from Sal Plascencia’s great, great novel, The People of Paper”, Sophie in novel Baby by Patricia MacLachlan, Baby Stink from The Lusty Man by Terry Griggs (which I haven’t read, but in my experience Griggs writes babies [and fetuses] better than anyone, ever), Egg from Hotel New Hampshire, James in The Cuckoo Boy by Grant Gillespie, Aurora from Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark, Emily Michelle Thomas Brewer from The Babysitters Club (which was a stunning entry), The Duchess’s Baby from Alice in Wonderland who turns into a pig, Sunny Baudelaire from the Lemony Snicket series and Jordan from Sexing the Cherry.

Before my own literary baby, let me provide a few runners-up. First, I was thinking about Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin, who isn’t lovable so much as memorable. I went back and reread passages from the babyhood portion of the book (first time since I’ve had a baby myself) and it stunned me for two reasons– 1) Lionel Shriver has never had a baby, but she *gets* living with a newborn so incredibly right. 2) the nightmare that was Eva’s life with baby Kevin was not so entirely different from mine in the early days of Harriet, somewhat terrifyingly. I’ve come around and Harriet does not appear to be a psychopath, but this adds a whole new texture to Shriver’s book.

Then there is Rilla’s wee soup-tureen baby in Rilla of Ingleside, “an ugly midget with a red, distorted little face, rolled up in a piece of dingy old flannel.”

And Arlo from Novel About My Wife, “He was perfect with his long eyes sweeping to the edges of his little walnut fae, with his beautiful breathing body, the heart fiercely beating under that boxy rhombus of his ribs.”

But my very favourite baby in literature is Glenn Bott, from my Adrian Mole omnibus by Sue Townsend. “I just bumped into Sharon Bott in Woolworths in Leicester, where I was purchasing Christmas presents. She had a strange-looking moon-headed toddler with her. “Say hello to Adrian, Glenn,” she said. I bent over the buggy and the kid gave me a slobbery smile. Is Glenn the fruit of my loins? Did my seed give him life? I must know. The kid was sucking the head of a Ninja Turtle. He looked fed up.”

One thought on “Favourite literary babies”

  1. Nathalie says:

    Sunny Baudelaire! Wonderful choice.

    Wonderful, too, to be reminded of all these babies in literature.

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