Baby: And Other Stories

Overview

Paula Bomer is a dangerous writer. The short stories in her debut collection are subversive portraits of the modern American family. From a husband who traces his internal crisis to witnessing his wife giving birth, to a mother who forces her young son on a rainy walk through a cemetery as she contemplates the detritus of her marriage, Bomer's characters are hauntingly familiar. Their fear and rage, their failures and desires are our own.

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Overview

Paula Bomer is a dangerous writer. The short stories in her debut collection are subversive portraits of the modern American family. From a husband who traces his internal crisis to witnessing his wife giving birth, to a mother who forces her young son on a rainy walk through a cemetery as she contemplates the detritus of her marriage, Bomer's characters are hauntingly familiar. Their fear and rage, their failures and desires are our own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 10 raw and angry stories, Bomer flays the idea of happy little families, giving readers an assortment of emasculated and discarded husbands; brooding, unfulfilled wives; and the poor children--destined for therapy--unlucky enough to bind them. Bomer's characters, Brooklynites for the most part, having been coddled by adoring mothers, raised in upper-middle-class homes, and propelled from Ivy League colleges, now shrink from "the cold reality of the indifference of the universe." For Lara in the title story, having a baby turned into bitter disappointment once she realizes that winning the "ultimate contest" really entails a life of drudgery. Bomer's characters spew many ungracious thoughts, but these are forthright, hilarious, and honest, as with Edie, the snarly mother of two grown sons, who so evidently favors her golden Thomas over the needy Michael, "who was uncoordinated, who needed glasses, who clung to her as a boy too big to be clinging to his mother," that she exults in his unhappiness as a newly married man and father. This lacerating take on marriage and motherhood is not one to share with the Mommy and Me group. (Dec.)
Kirkus Reviews

Ten vicious stories about bombed-out marriages, dysfunctional families and the secret lives of men and women.

It takes a strong constitution to finish all of the stories in this disturbing, rebellious debut of familial moments by Artistically Declined Press co-publisher Bomer. They are certainly well-written and crisp, with desiccated prose that recalls writers like Amy Hempel and Mary Robinson. But she's really not into happy endings. The opener, "The Mother of His Children," exposes the damaged inner workingsof a 35-going-on-50 middle manager whose sexual daydreams are spoiled by his graphic delivery-room memories of his son's birth. "The Shitty Handshake" eavesdrops on the mindset of an alcoholic woman about to enter an affair. "I'm going to die not knowing what it means to be loved," she says. "I'm going to die unhappy, afraid and alone. I'm going to die without having published a book." A pair of interconnected stories, "If There Were Two Boats" and "The Second Son," form weak bookends by examining an elderly woman's inequitable relationships with her two sons. "A Galloping Infection" finds a husband pausing to reflect on his wife's death and the new freedoms that come with it. Perhaps the most resonant, if no less off-putting, is the title story, which examines an Upper West Side WASP who gets everything that's coming to her: a reluctant marriage proposal, stroller rides through Central Park and a baby who is the center of her life. At one point she imagines smashing his head against a brick wall. "The thought simultaneously energized and relaxed her. The imagining of it—she saw her face angry, imagined the swinging of her arms, imagined his little face wide with horror and his tiny, helpless head thwacking against the wall—THWACK!—and blood spraying out everywhere—the picturing of this, scene by scene, cleared her head." Sleep tight.

A worthy, if challenging, entry into the genre of transgressional fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780977934379
  • Publisher: Word Riot Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2010
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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