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The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tale from the Trenches (Live Girls) Paperback – March 19, 2002

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Product Details

  • Series: Live Girls
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; First Edition edition (March 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580050719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580050715
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,569,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Of the many stay-at-home mommies who dream of writing the Great American Novel, few actually try; fewer still get published. Though not a novel, The Big Rumpus certainly is the Great American Tale of one woman's schlep through early motherhood--honest, hilarious, and irresistibly naughty. Ayun Halliday, a highly caffeinated and refreshingly immodest city gal, acknowledges that motherhood is pretty much like contending with a cloud of locusts swarming toward one's wheat--then laughs her "heiner" off about it.

Under her gifted muse's care, stories about childbirth, holiday acrobatics (sans religious ties), and raising two kids in a tiny New York apartment read like standup comedy routines; they also give way to bittersweet reflections on her own youth--goofy boyfriends, repressed sexual behavior, and all. Yes, she swears; yes, she delves deeply into issues anatomical, gastronomical, and diaporial. But for hip stay-at-homers who find sustenance in friendships honed at neighborhood playgrounds (not slapped together like cold deli meats at those contrived mommy-and-me meetings), Ayun Halliday might just become the patron saint of blissfully imperfect motherhood. Even mommies who lack Halliday's affinity for "unhusking" their breasts in public will find moments of empathy in this mirthful sprint through life as the family "Milk Monkey." --Liane Thomas

From Library Journal

Becoming a mother is a scary proposition. Now throw in strollers on subway stairs, crowded sidewalks, and approximately eight million New Yorkers. This is the life of an urban mother, and the fear of those who will soon carry that title is palpable. The Big Rumpus puts a comic slant on what it's like to be a "hipmama." Halliday, the often bumbling metro mother of two, is no stranger to documenting her life in the concrete jungle. She is the proud creator of the two-year-old quarterly zine, the East Village Inky, named after her daughter India (Inky), upon which this book expands. Her strong narrative voice evokes the power and demands of her life and the city in which she lives. Essential reading for all urban mothers.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

I can relate is all I have to say!
It's nice knowing that I'm not the only one who sometimes feels trapped by the ones I love more than life itself!
M. Graden
Kudos to Ayun Halliday for writing a book 'from the trenches' of motherhood!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By on March 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Built on the bones of her four-year-old 'zine, The East Village Inky, Halliday's book expands on the experiences of (in her phrase) "a certain transplanted Hoosier mother tromping around Brooklyn, the East Village and several subway lines, more or less joyously burdened with an infant, a coughing three-thumbed three-year-old desperate to kiss him, a big broken orange bag, a Bug's Life lunchbox, an ill-advised plastic sackful of bulk food and a deteriorating stroller." Fans of her quarterly, hand-lettered, forty page 'zine will find the same irreverent, self-deprecating tone in Halliday's tales of rearing her young in the asphalt jungle (though they'll have to settle for a mere half dozen of her endearingly quirky pen-and-ink illustrations). A former massage therapist, off-off-Broadway actress, and waitress, Halliday had feared that her urban hipster life was over after the birth of her first child, India (the eponymous "Inky"). Instead, she's transformed the minutiae of their daily doings into these funky and often touching stories that embrace universal themes (high-spirited preschoolers, sleep deprivation, weaning) while providing a nose-against-the-glass tour of big city life with kids: falafel joints, rooftop parties, and multi-culti friendships forged on tarmacked playgrounds. Mommy voyeurism at its best.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Lore on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rumpus: uproar, chaos, fracas, bedlam...see parenthood.
What Ariel Gore does for the single young mother on welfare in The Mother Trip, Ayun Halliday does for the older mother of young children in an urban setting. The message from the trenches is loud and clear: we may not be June Cleaver, but we love our messy imps.
Ayun Halliday writes with humor and love of her husband Greg and two children, Inky and Milo. Their day-to-day adventures stomping through the streets of the Big Apple make hilarious and heart-tugging reading. Halliday is particularly gifted at capturing the wisdom of her preschool-aged daughter who says things like "Daddy smells bad" as the Dad in question is puking his guts out while Halliday is going into labor with her second child.
Birth and nursing stories aside, Halliday writes from the perspective of someone who has landed on a strange planet and is determined to make the best of it. In other words, she gives voice to the kind of mother I find myself being, which makes her work almost impossible to put down.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany Palisi on March 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Okay, I've read something like 20 books about parenting but I related to none of them. They all embraced scrapbooking, stenciling, etc. and I thought 'Who does this?' Then I read The Big Rumpus, a refreshing look at life from a real mother's perspective. Halliday is an intelligent woman who does endless mom tasks, struggles with philosophies of motherhood, and (YAY) nurses her babes while figuring out how to get around NYC. She says things that I've thought but never dared say - (Sigh) I'm not alone! If you are a mom, want to be a mom, care for children, or want to read about a cool woman's adventures in the big city, read this book. If you nurse, have an intact son, co-sleep, wear your baby, and/or know how to laugh at yourself, buy this book. If you are 30-something and want to remember high school, read this book. If you love or hate the holidays, read this book. Heck, I think anyone will find this book touching, funny and just plain entertaining. Buy this book, you'll be glad you did.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amy E. Hudock on April 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am probably the last mom on the block to read Ayun Halliday's hilarious momior, THE BIG RUMPUS (Seal Press, 2002). I wish I had read it sooner. Rarely does a book force me to put it down while I laugh. This one did. My husband kept looking at me suspiciously as I chuckled to myself, holding my sides. He may have been wondering if I was laughing at him. But no, I was laughing at the high-density, fast-paced, irony-laden, stand-up comedy routine that Halliday offers up to her readers alongside a coffee and bagel. I got a caffeine contact buzz just from reading it.
You might know New Yorker Halliday from the quarterly zine she publishes, THE EAST VILLAGE INKY, but if you don't, it is time to get acquainted, especially for mama writers. The opening chapter about the beginning of the zine describes the author's desire to make her life into art, and will resonate with any mother who thinks she has caught a glimpse of the creative potential inherent in motherhood. Halliday shows us a hip, less than perfect mother who writes and draws and loves through the chaos of child care, housekeeping, and the streets of the Big Apple. While she mourns the identity she lost as a radical theater performer, she revels in her new role as revolutionary mama writer, freeing the city she loves from dangerous mother stereotypes. I found her book refreshing and entertaining.
But it isn't all laughs. I was also moved by Halliday's more introspective moods, as when she describes her daughter's stay in the intensive care unit that followed her birth. Or when she says what we all think but don't say about our fears that our children will die before us. Or when her mother love extends out into the world to mourn others' tragedies.
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More About the Author

I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and came of age at the height of the preppy craze. For some unfathomable reason, my grandparents had a subscription to The New Yorker and every week, I'd paw through it daydreaming about a glamorous future where I'd be a celebrated stage actress living in sin with some hot, devoted trumpet player in a Greenwich Village loft with a skyline view that I've since learned is only possible from Brooklyn or New Jersey.

After graduating from Northwestern University with an impractical, expensive degree in guess what, I embarked on an exciting career as a waitress, with occasional time-outs for globetrotting of the dirty backpack, banana pancake variety.

In 1988, I joined The Neo-Futurists, a Chicago theatre company notable for presenting 30 original plays in the course of 60 minutes and ordering pizza for the audience whenever the show sold out. Greg Kotis auditioned for the ensemble in 1991 and fortunately, we cast him because otherwise, I might not have married him and moved to New York City where we rented a 340-square-foot apartment in the East Village for $1150 a month.

Boy, were we surprised when a big old stork swooped down a year later, especially since the baby it dropped off had three thumbs and required immediate treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

On Inky's first birthday, I put out the first issue of my zine, The East Village Inky which was and still is written and illustrated entirely by hand because computers tend to take a digger when I'm around (This Web site was engineered by Dave Awl, an old buddy from the Neo-Futurists.)

After a few years, the shadow of the stork fell upon us again and we moved to Brooklyn. Milo was born underwater so lickety split, he almost came out in the Tompkins Square playground.

Greg wrote Urinetown! (the Musical) which, to everyone's amazement, made it all the way to Broadway and now he's such hot doodie he might burn you, so don't touch him! Don't tell him I called him hot doodie either because he's rigorous about his modesty and I already drew a couple of pictures in The East Village Inky where he dances around naked.

I eschewed housekeeping and wrote a book called The Big Rumpus so I could remember what life was really like when my children were small and so that you'd have something to purchase in bulk for Mothers Day and every other major holiday.

Then I had to write another book in case you pride yourself on hating kids or break out in hives at the thought of reading another birth story. My second book is called No Touch Monkey! The ranking brass in the East Village Inky guerilla marketeering squad think it'd make an excellent present for everyone who received a copy of The Big Rumpus from you last year, not to mention the special dirty backpacker in your life. If an Amazon customer reviewer is going to hate on any of my books, that's the one! Boy, is it ever! I'll fix their wagons someday.

Gosh, playing in the ashtray of my tattered memories was such fun, I started rooting through all the crappy day jobs I held while pursuing an elusive dream of life on the golden-but-not-nearly-wicked-enough stage. If you, too, have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageously low-wage fortune, reading Job Hopper is going to feel like taking off your girdle. If you've been pulling down six figures since the day you graduated B-school summa cum laude, reading Job Hopper is going to feel like taking off someone else's girdle.

The most recent autobiographical dough to come pumping out of the template is Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste. It's a love letter to everything I've ever eaten and a few of the things I wish I hadn't. I might add that it's got one of the gnarliest indexes I've ever seen, short of The Merck Manual. It made me so hungry, I had to start a food blog just to justify some of the crazy things I've stuffed in my pie-hole over the years. (I eventually realized that blogging's not for a hard core zinester like me, but you can find the archives online if you search for "Dirty Sugar Cookies Eggplant Tofu" which is what I always do when I'm trying to remember how to make my husband's favorite recipe.

In 2008, Hyperion published a picture book that had been knocking around in my rusty old brain pan since my then-4-year-old daughter observed that there's "Always Lots Of Heinies at the Zoo". True enough! She's twelve now. You do the math. Anyway, it's illustrated by Dan Santat, and it has a Bossa Nova beat, in case you want to dance to it. I'm particularly proud of the line about the junk in Ms. Elephant's supplemental trunk, and my favorite illustration is the one on the back cover.

Then came Zinesters Guide to NYC, an anecdotal, illustrated, low budget, highly participatory guidebook to New York City. It is believed to be the last wholly analog specimen of its kind. Stephen Colbert said it's truly funny, truly affordable and that if he could still walk the streets of New York among his People, this is the guide he would use. Have your cake and eat it too by using your smart phone to check if a certain gluten free and/or vegan and/or venerable bakeries listed in this delightfully old school volume are still open or whether you should savor that listing as New York history.

And now comes my graphic novel, Peanut, a collaboration with illustrator Paul Hoppe. It's about a girl who fakes a peanut allergy under the mistaken impression that it will improve her social standing at her new school. Schwartz and Wade is publishing it in January 2013, just in time for...Christmas... oh.

That photo is what I wear when battling the haters who write scathing reviews of No Touch Monkey. As you can see, I am also enjoying a cup of Official Writer Drink.

If you'd like to learn more about what's shaking in Ayun layund, or find out how to order the East Village Inky, or see some old timey photos from back in the day, I've got a website. I named it after myself. No, not Ayun Junior. Ayun Halliday Dot Com! We can even be Facebook friends. I'll wish you a happy birthday.

Dare to be Heinie! And thank you for reading!


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