New in Books
My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy
by Andrea Askowitz
(Cleis Press) $14.95.
In response to Andrea Askowitz's 237-page complaint memoir called My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy, I'd like to propose another book called I'll Give You Something to Be Miserable About.
In that book, the female protagonist would be forced—no!—to work a paying job. She'd spend her pregnancy worrying about saving money to pay the rent during her maternity leave. She'd spend maternity leave rushing around researching day-care centers.
Instead, as the book begins, Askowitz has been working an all-volunteer job for some five years. Working while pregnant gets rather inconvenient, so she quits the job shortly before the birth. After the birth, she hires a helpful nanny (whose existence is acknowledged only in the thank-you section after the end of the book, along with her bicoastal writing groups).
Somewhere in there, she writes the book, in which she complains about how hard it was to get inseminated (sperm bank, two tries) and have a baby alone and as a lesbian, although all this solitude and alienation turns out to rest on one hell of a support network of family, friends, and, apparently, if you read between the whines, independent wealth.
It is unfortunate that none of Askowitz's supportive compatriots was supportive enough to tell her to shut the hell up—or to wrestle with the elephant of economics lounging in the middle of her book. What promises to be a warts-and-all account of one woman's struggle, instead makes mock of the real, class-based travails of single parenthood. The fact she thought she could write around money makes the book feel deceitful. For the purposes of today's lesson in Suffering 101, suffice it to say that you can't have your baby, your struggle memoir, and your nanny, too.