A living archive

Mothering as the ultimate synthesis
by
June 2022, no. 443
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Mothertongues by Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell

Hamish Hamilton, $34.99 pb, 352 pp

A living archive

Mothering as the ultimate synthesis
by
June 2022, no. 443

At the beginning of 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write (2014), author, mother, and playwright Sarah Ruhl notes: ‘At the end of the day, writing has very little to do with writing, and much to do with life. And life, by definition, is not an intrusion.’ Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell’s Mothertongues embraces, embodies even, this collapse of the boundaries between living and writing. Rather than extolling the proverbial ‘room of her own’, Bell and Dovey are asking us to heed the kinds of knowledge that come from being embedded in the everyday. A hybrid, genre-defying book about contemporary motherhood, Mothertongues is woven from fragments based on the authors’ own lives, from texts both historical and literary, from imagined conversations and family histories, from the act of friendship itself. It is intimate, moving from levity to depth, the corporeal to the cerebral, in the space of a page, a paragraph, a breath. It is a collection of ephemera – a stray thought, the contents of a handbag, breastfeeding diary excerpts, book lists, text message exchanges – that, taken together, form a living archive of twenty-first-century motherhood.

Sarah Gory reviews 'Mothertongues' by Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell

Mothertongues

by Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell

Hamish Hamilton, $34.99 pb, 352 pp

Buy this book

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