Friday, September 12, 2008

Review: My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy by Andrea Askowitz

Andrea Askowitz
My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy

Published by Cleis Press

Reviewed by Emily Moreton


Note to self: do not get pregnant six months after breaking up with girlfriend. If this book is anything to go by, it won’t be a fun experience.

Askowitz’s account of her pregnancy is not the stuff of women’s magazines and feel-good ‘chick-lit’. There’s no warm fuzzy feeling of connection to the Earth and the sisterhood, or whatever it is that we’re all supposed to feel if we get pregnant. Her story is as much about how it feels to be gay and alone and pregnant as it is about morning sickness and the cost of donor sperm. It’s not an easy journey, to read about any more than to go through, only partly because what Askowitz is experiencing isn’t much fun. She’s not the easiest person to like, on paper – no-one behaves in the way she wants them to, everyone is wrong, and she’s a little too obsessed with her weight (and her ex-girlfriend’s).

It’s not all doom, gloom and whining though – I wouldn’t say it’s a hilarious account, like the cover proclaims, but it’s definitely amusing. When she wants to be funny, she’s sharp and dry, and it’s a lot easier than to forgive her for the whining. Wouldn’t you if you were pregnant and on your own, with your family on the other side of the country?

This isn’t, in the end, just a book about being pregnant, or even a book about being gay and pregnant. It’s as much about her unspoken fear that the fibroid she suffers with will turn out to be, as it did for her childhood friend, cancer, and ultimately fatal. It’s as much about her job, running outward bound cycling holidays for inner-city gay kids, what it means to her, and what it means to her to give it up for her child. It’s as much about family and religion and friendship, and what these all mean to Askowitz, how they’ve shaped her life and will shape her child’s. And in the end, it is, like most pregnancy memoirs, about how it feels to bring someone new into the world, and how that starts to change your life.

And yes, it does have exactly the sappy ending you’d expect from a pregnancy memoir, but in this case, it’s okay, because it comes at the end of nine months of what feels, written down, like suffering, and you can’t help thinking that Askowitz, annoying as she sometimes was, deserves this ending, this connection with her child and their future.

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