Gloomy mothers, anyone?
Now, I read it awhile ago, but what stuck with me was the dark side of surburban parenthood-- the boredom, the questionable morals, the use of playdates to flirt with other parents. Why do I bring this up?
I just read Rachel Cusk's latest, Arlington Park. It follows a number of mothers through the course of one rainy day in suburban London. Lemme tell ya, its gloomy. Some of it struck a chord--the boredom, the isolation, the conflicts with the working husbands especially.
Cusk seemed to want to present, in novel form, the dark underbelly of the stay-at-home mom, just as Perotta did. But where Perotta had black humor, Cusk has frustrated mothers throwing their kids into bed without a kiss or bedtime story or anything. Some of these mothers seemed just too mean as a day-in-day-out way of being.
We all have our tough days, but hopefully not this kind of constant reality. That said, there's something about breaking some of the taboos of fiction about motherhood that I liked here. And she is one outstanding writer.
The descriptions of the weather and surroundings are amazing in their perfect detail. Watching kids pass through the park after school is a perfect opportunity for Cusk to detail the variations by age and gender of the various behaviors of kids just released for the day.
Ultimately, I liked the writing so much that I could appreciate it for that when I found the characters almost too grim to bear.