The Room Lit by Roses: A Journal of Pregnancy and Birth

Carole Maso, Author
Carole Maso, Author Counterpoint LLC $24 (240p) ISBN 978-1-58243-088-1
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-58243-212-0
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In lush, elliptical language, Maso (The Art Lover, etc.) charts her first experience with pregnancy and new motherhood in a journal that reads like prose poetry, couching the mysterious experience in surprising forms, syntaxes and imagery. She records the unexpected sense of well-being and faith that accompany her pregnancy: ""I've got to say I'm really quite pleased with myself. I am no longer someone I entirely recognize. A kind of wayward haloDleast likely to become an angel or a chaliceDand yet.... To be myself and yet to be so much greater than myself."" She also chronicles the fatigue: ""Cannot even imagine getting up. How to get to school?... Everything small as if seen from a great distance. The fierce attachments to this world begin to loosen."" Maso also explores how, by age 42, she had accepted that she wouldn't have a child, until she and Helen, her partner of 20 years, traveled to Italy and prayed for a baby in a series of chapels and cathedrals. After nights of planned passion with men (alluded to coyly, without specifics), Maso gets her wish. Her father wonders how they all will manageDthe subtext is, ""What will people think?"" At Brown University, where she teaches creative writing, students notice a radical change in her. Helen, who wanted the child most of all, remains stoic and supportive throughout Maso's prenatal and postpartum vagaries, even though Maso at times leaves her out of the loop. Though Maso's wide-eyed descriptions of the miracles of pregnancy can seem self-indulgent, her dreamlike treatment of pregnancy, birth, mothering and writing should enchant mothers, mothers-to-be and writers with a poetic bent. (Dec.)
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