The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 27 December 2002

The Room Lit by Roses

A Journal of Pregnancy and Birth

by Carole Maso

By her own testimony, Carole Maso has led a strongly independent and unusual lifestyle. Her novels, which bear a certain tint of autobiography, certainly document her "alternative" point of view (though, I think "alternative" is perhaps too weak and overused a term to describe her vibrant and deeply engaged viewpoint). Here, in what is maybe her most mainstream construction, Maso documents her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter. Indeed, she goes about this in an unusual and characteristic way. Maso, who is engaged in a very long term relationship with a female companion, becomes pregnant in an encounter on a European trip during which Helen prays for a child in Italian grottoes. The father is a mysterious, necessary, but almost irrelevant figure in this compelling journal. There is much about Maso's long term relationship that is untold and about which the reader may become intensely curious. After all, Helen is tolerating Carole's sexual distractions in the interest of having a child. But, while the reader will remain in the dark about this essential history, the journal of the pregnancy and birth is wonderfully intimate and almost magical. Maso conveys an intensely connected experience, in which she finds common ground with womanhood through history, and with nature and the Earth. The story is almost poetic. Along the way, she struggles with what this means for her writing, for her relationships, and for her future, now opening up again with pregnancy at age 42. The book, like Maso's others, is experimental in style, but very accessible. It is moving and revealing. Highly recommended.

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Also by Maso: [AVA] [Aureole] [Ghost Dance]

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