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Pickle Me This

January 27, 2015

Loving the Difficult

loving-the-difficult“In a time of cutbacks to services for women and children, for the arts, the difficulties faced by young mothers today who also want to write are enormous. But they do have, as generations before them didn’t, literary mothers who have been mothers themselves and given us a literature richer for that experience. They have transcended or changed the meaning of “women’s literature.” Canada’s voice in world literature is, as often as not, a women’s voice, a mother’s voice, now being joined by the voices of women around the world.” –Jane Rule, “Our Mothers,” from Loving the Difficult, which I finished reading last night while overlooking the swimming pool observing my daughter’s bizarre inability to float.

I liked this book a lot, although overlap between essays was a bit repetitive, and some were far more insightful than others. I was intrigued by details of Rule’s childhood in California, details that reminded me of Joan Didion’s biography and autobiographical essays—they are near contemporaries. Their writing styles are not the same, but they seem to have a similar eye on the world. I’d be interested to read Rule’s posthumous autobiography, Taking My Life, to see how it might connect with Didion’s Where I Was From. I also liked the book as a piece of swim-lit—Rule was a lifeguard throughout her life, and one of her final essays on her pool (yes!) is one of the very best in the book. Other good pieces were on grief, losing her partner of many decades, on gay marriage (“You be normal, or else…”), on writing, on writing and money, a piece on parallels between being a lesbian and being left-handed, and so many passages that begged to be underlined.

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