The Shame

Makenna Goodman. Milkweed, $16 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-57131-136-8
Goodman riffs on middle-class motherhood angst in her probing debut. Alma’s college professor husband, Asa, has recently been awarded tenure, while Alma, who writes and paints, stays home with their two young children. The quotidian scenes with Alma telling bedtime stories and painting in their bucolic Vermont house are framed by glimpses of Alma driving through the night and fleeing her family, with her destination unclear until the end. After she is offered $40,000 by a toy manufacturer to write a children’s book, Alma delays accepting, afraid it would mean selling out, which leads to arguments with her husband. Meanwhile, she begins a novel, using a Brooklyn-based potter she met on a mothering website for inspiration. Her development of the character, Celeste, reaches near-obsessive levels as she makes Celeste the woman she herself is afraid to be (“I wanted the reader to be annoyed by her entitlement, but to empathize with her, too, in the way I hoped to be read if I were written down”). Her fixation on the character leads her to reply to the potter’s call for a nanny on social media, tempting fate to see what will come of it. Goodman credibly describes the weight of motherhood as “a backpack full of stones.” Those who feel like they’re losing themselves in the daily grind will appreciate Alma’s escape fantasy. (Aug)
Reviewed on : 06/04/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-57131-723-0
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