Women are from Venus. Women’s Intuition. The Feminine Mystique. Whatever you want to call it, women have a different kind of sensitivity and power from their Y-chromosomed counterparts, and that perception may be the most finely tuned with regard to one’s mother.
We know things, my sisters assure me. We know the future. No, sometimes we know the future, I caution. My dead sister knew who was calling before she picked up the phone. I know when a person is moving toward me across time and place. I think of them and they come back into my life. What does all this mean? I ask my mother. What have you done to us?
--from Jonis Agee’s “Storm Warnings”
That’s just one of the things you’ll experience firsthand reading Riding Shotgun: Women Write About Their Mothers [Borealis Books], a series of personal essays edited by Kathryn Kysar. To rise into and assume the mantle of womanhood means different things to different women, but one thing is clear: no one gets through it without a few scratches—and if you’re lucky, some good advice, a proud example, and maybe a few hugs and kisses-- from Mommy.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, Riding Shotgun is a different kind of celebration. Grown women from all kinds of backgrounds take a literary look at this intense, sometimes frightening, intimidating, funny, and at best, loving universal relationship between daughters and their mothers. You’ll find true-tales from great contemporary writers such as Sandra Benitez, Tai Coleman, Alison McGhee, Susan Steger Welsh, Denise Low, Susan Power, Carrie Pomeroy, and many others. Reading more like short stories than essays trying to preach anything, Riding Shotgun examines women—and humanity-- in a fresh way. No need for sentimental sweet greeting card poetry, or teary apple-pie baking puppy dog tales. This is a new age, a great mix of culture, and a celebration of uniquely feminine power, as daughters, parents, caregivers, cooks, gardeners, friends, victims, bullies, crazy people and everything in between. Because after all, why be cliché? We’re different.
Aren't you glad?
Kathryn Kysar, the author of Dark Lake, teaches writing in Minneapolis. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Norcroft, the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.