Rebecca Walker on her ‘mother decision’
“Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence” (Riverhead Books, 207 pages, $24.95) ” Rebecca Walker: Writers call it gate-keeping. It’s the act of letting readers in to one’s personal life, while managing to keep them an arm’s length away ” just a bit further than absolute honesty would allow.
It makes sense. Baring one’s soul can be messy and it’s definitely scary, but readers respond, usually with great appreciation, admiration and empathy. And savvy readers feel shortchanged when an author wimps out.
Rebecca Walker had a unique opportunity with her new memoir, “Baby Love.” She’s a wonderfully insightful writer who grew up in an unconventional household. Her mother is best-selling black author and feminist Alice Walker, her father, a white Jewish lawyer. The couple split when Rebecca Walker was in third grade. We learned about her difficult growing-up years in her 2002 memoir, “Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self.”
In “Baby Love,” Walker uses her decision to get pregnant at 30-something to continue her story. She offers an unflinching look at her doubts, her anxieties, even her pride in knowing she’s joined a special club as her pregnancy begins to show. And she offers a realistic account of labor and delivery.
She also tells us about her increasingly strained relationship with her mother, who apparently doesn’t approve of the pregnancy ” or maybe she doesn’t approve of her daughter’s partner, Glen. It’s unclear. Mom eventually tells her daughter ” in an e-mail ” “Walk free, with my blessing.” She later takes her out of her will, replacing her with a cousin, from whom her only daughter gets the news.
What happened? Is her mother completely unreasonable? What was done to try to repair the relationship? Was it truly heart-wrenching to go through pregnancy and childbirth for the first time without one’s mother?
Walker also never adequately explains her decision to leave a woman, whom she’s dated for years, and move in with a man and have his baby. She talks about her ambivalence, her conflicting feelings, over the years about how to manage her life as both a woman and a mother. But being bisexual must have muddied the waters further. Did her need to have a baby eclipse her desire to love a woman? Did Glen simply come along at the right time? She speaks fleetingly about her fantasy to have a child with her former girlfriend, but did she consider it a real option?
Walker scratches the surface here and tells a poignant love story of herself and her son, but the unanswered questions overwhelm the beauty and will leave readers wanting more truth, less gate-keeping.
” Kim Curtis
“Hunter’s Moon” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 282 pages, $24.95) ” Randy Wayne White: Before he wrote his first novel, Randy Wayne White worked as a fishing guide out of Sanibel Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, so he’s a man who knows his way around a fish story.
Maybe that’s why reading his Doc Ford crime novels always feels like listening to an old salt tell a whopper.
Ford, introduced 14 books ago in “Sanibel Flats” (1990), is a retired intelligence agency hit man trying to make a living as a marine biologist. But try as he might, he can never seem to leave his past behind. In each novel, this improbable character reluctantly gets mixed up in an unlikely and perilous adventure.
In “Hunter’s Moon,” White has outdone himself ” the plot so far-fetched that it is suitable only for readers with a highly evolved ability to suspend disbelief.
The wife of a former American president is dead, killed when her plane crashed during a humanitarian flight to deliver medical supplies to Central America. The ex-president is sure it was not an accident and knows who was responsible. He wants revenge, and he’s in a hurry to get it because he’s dying of leukemia.
Naturally, he turns to Doc Ford.
Ford helps the ex-president shake his Secret Service detail and sneak out of the country. With Ford’s best buddy, an aging hippie named Tomlinson, lending a hand, they sail and fly to their destination in a restive area of the isthmus of Panama.
There, the story gets wilder as White introduces us to a rebel leader, obnoxious American TV news reporters and Islamic terrorists while pumping up the action with a series of explosions and gun battles.
The villain Ford and the ex-president are hunting is a serial killer whose face is disfigured with burns. The character is recycled from an earlier novel in which he tried to kill Ford’s son, whose mother is the widow of a Latin drug lord. But that’s another story.
Sure, it’s all wildly unlikely, although no more so than TV’s popular “24,” but if you can swallow the premise, “Hunter’s Moon” is another rip-snorting Doc Ford page turner. That’s why White is such a hot writer these days, his last Doc Ford novel, “Dark Light,” reaching 17 on The New York Times best seller list.
” Bruce DeSilva