- 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 (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,313,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tale from the Trenches (Live Girls) Paperback – March 19, 2002
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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.
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Top customer reviews
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.
I deeply enjoyed about 25% of her writing: if I could have sampled the best parts, I would have loved her writing. The remaining 75% really detracts from the excellence in my mind, dragging the good parts down into unmoderated noise and filth. Hey, I find the real world dirty and noisy, and I read for a break, to enjoy a moderated, mediated, filtered world, OK?
Another aspect, the unwritten subtext that bothered me is that yes, Halliday may be a mom in the East Village or Brooklyn who cannot afford a nanny or day care, but there is this unspoken (white) male income that the family is able to rely on (single income, two kids). The male income is not directly made an issue, but it looms heavily, with dad working somewhere during the day and making enough money so mom can stay home with the kids, going to the park in mid day, working on the zine while kids nap. What kind of radical feminist is this? She is not, or at least at the time she wrote the book, she was not. Also there is no awareness of single moms. This kind of economic chicanery, of trying to appear like a down and out street tramp when she is really a bourgeosis bohemian, really disappoints me.
I did appreciate Halliday's honesty about being a WASP who married an atheist/agnostic Jew, her mockery and irreverence towards her Episcopalian background. Also, I must admit I was drawn initially to her lack of shame about body fluids and anatomy. She is liberated from social constructs in this sense! This is the reason that I always read her essays wherever they appear. Also, at least she doesn't pretend to feel sorry for single moms, divorced moms, lesbian moms, etc. I look forward to her mature, later writing.