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Bearing Life: Women's Writings On Childlessness, Edited by Rochelle Ratner

Bearing Life

From THE FEMINIST PRESS AT THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016 (212) 817-7920, Fax: (212) 987-4008, www.feministpress.org A crucial new text for Women's Studies, Gender Studies, Family Studies, & Literature Courses

Hailed as "wonderfully rich and moving" and "Engaging, Funny, and Poignant," BEARING LIFE: Women's Writings on Childlessness is a quietly revolutionary work, a book that uses the power of literature to shatter the wall of silence surrounding women who are childless, whether by choice or circumstance. This is the first anthology to talk openly and candidly about the conflicting, often painful, and sometimes liberating emotions of childless women. Stories, poems, and personal essays reveal the ambivalence and denial childless women confront within themselves, expose the misunderstanding and hostility they confront in the outside world, and move toward acceptance and even celebration of childlessness. In voices that range from mournful to defiant, this diverse, multi-cultural collection explores experiences of accepting infertility and of choosing abortion; of losing children to miscarriage, death, or divorce; of remembering a legacy of unhappy families and creating a future in alternative families; of acknowledging loss and celebrating solitude. Together, these 52 writers testify to the complexity and completeness of women's lives whatever their choices, and help to carve out a space where true choices can be made. Contributors include: Julia Alvarez, Margaret Atwood, Rita Mae Brown, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Tory Dent, Diane di Prima, Janice Eidus, Daniela Gioseffi, Amy Hempel, Linda Hogan, Bell Hooks, Hettie Jones, Irena Klepfisz, Mary Mackey, Valerie Miner, Joyce Carol Oates, Grace Paley and many more.

From the Introduction: "After a woman has a miscarriage, she receives sympathy from everyone around her, along with urgings to try again and heartfelt stories of other people who miscarried but later had three children. If she,s going for fertility treatments she will, again, hear all the wonderful success stories. After a woman has opted for abortion (unless she lives in a conservative or fundamentalist environment) she will most likely find a camaraderie among trusted friends and colleagues who will relate tales of their own (legal and illegal) abortions, and assure her that there will be plenty of time to have children later, when she,s more settled. But let a woman state that she has no desire for children, no wish to get pregnant, and no incentive to even explore adoption issues, and she will be met with silence perhaps with an empty stare, perhaps with a hostile one. These women desperately needed to talk, to realize they weren,t the only women in the world who did not want children. And they needed to read about experiences and feelings that resembled and thus validated their own."

Carolyn Morrell, author of Unwomanly Conduct: The Challenge of Intentional Childlessness, calls Bearing Life: "A unique and riveting collection... In turn sad, irreverent, and liberating, Rochelle Ratner,s anthology is spellbinding. This work fills a deep gap in women,s studies. It will be valuable to students, to women with or without children, and to those contemplating motherhood. It is not to be missed."

"Few books explore the complex and controversial state of childlessness, yet Ratner, a novelist and editor of The American Book Review, has, by dint of long and ardent research, discovered a wealth of writings on the subject. Her candid and eloquent introduction opens the door to outstanding poems, fiction, and essays by more than 50 women writers, that cover a broad spectrum of emotions and viewpoints... Ratner's premier literary anthology widens the family circle to embrace childless women and recognize their invaluable contributions to our collective soul." - Donna Seaman, Booklist

"The collection does not want for depth or imagination, and its sprawling content helps shape a topic defined in name only by absence... An intricate and important anthology, ultimately using childlessness to develop a study of art, female identity, and self-understanding." Kirkus Reviews "This fine, fascinating collection of sensitive literature, appropriate for bibliotherapy and book discussions, is highly recommended for all libraries." - Library Journal

BEARING LIFE: WOMEN'S WRITINGS ON CHILDLESSNESS 257 pages ISBN: 155861236X $23.95 hardcover For examination copies, please contact: The Feminist Press at The City University of New York The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016 (212) 8177920, Fax: (212) 9874008, www.feministpress.org

Poems by Rochelle Ratner

 

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