cover image Mothers: Twenty Stories of Contemporary Motherhood

Mothers: Twenty Stories of Contemporary Motherhood

. North Point Press, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-374-21375-6

Transfiguring life into art, Barbara Kingsolver, Laurie Colwin, Mary Gordon, Sue Miller and Perri Klass are among the 20 writers, mothers all, who contribute stories--all previously published--to this well-chosen anthology about bearing or raising children. Editors Kenison (series editor for The Best American Short Stories) and Hirsch (Songs from the Alley) have chosen stories that illustrate ""the complexities of mothering in America today."" Klass's ""For Women Everywhere,"" spiked with humor, tells of a 35-year-old single woman, nine months pregnant, who refuses to identify her baby's father: ""I am not the kind to kiss and tell,"" she states. In Kate Braverman's disturbing ""Pagan Night,"" a young mother contemplates killing her unnamed, unwanted infant son. Meanwhile, Kingsolver's ""Quality Time"" limns a divorced mother, hurriedly dropping off her daughter at daycare before running errands and going to work, who reflects that ""Parenting is something that happens mostly while you're thinking of something else."" Several tales deal with losing a child; of these, Alice Elliott Dark's ""In the Gloaming,"" about a mother caring for her 33-year-old son dying of AIDS, is the most moving. Each entry is followed by a brief author's note on the story's genesis. In their thoughtful introduction, the editors express their wish that this group of tales may ""serve as a step toward a `mother's literature'""; it does, admirably. (May) FYI: Naturally, Mothers will be published on Mother's Day.