Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Mom on Fire

"It is not often that someone comes along
who is a true friend and a good writer.
Charlotte was both."

from Charlotte's Web
by E. B. White

Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting! is an energetic, energizing book about parenting and picking the right grade school (public vs. private) for your kids. Okay, yes, I saw the negative press about Loh and her marriage, but I'm not going to think about that. I'm going to focus instead on how much I relished her depiction of the almost perfect, all-American childhood, and the driving force behind it, i.e., a Mom on Fire! Plus, I like the way that she weaves in Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, Mary Poppins, and Charlotte's Web:

"Perhaps it is the wonder of periomenopause, but my days are suddenly shot through with luminous, almost hallucinogenic magic. All at once, I see the meaning of my whole year. . . . the wildest revelation of my unmedicated, premonopausal fever-dream: I suddenly saw what had been hitherto invisible to me, an astonishingly beautiful universe, a shimmering web made of millions of gossamer threads, tended, day by day hour by hour, patiently, by the stubborn and unsung force -- of women. Everywhere around me, in the the city, the whole time, there had been Charlottes, spinning their webs" (239).

Loh's metaphor captures the beauty of webs and being connected and taking care of each other. Charlotte must be the world's favorite spider, and what's more she is also a mother and a true friend. Certainly to me she has always seemed more human than arachnid. She's on our side. She loved Wilbur, and she saved his life. She looked to the future on behalf of her children.


Illustration by Garth Williams
from Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White

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M. T. Anderson
Sandra Tsing Loh
David Sedaris
Sandi Toksvig

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