This read like a slow-burning mystery for me — Belle gathers stories from a wide variety of situations where the potential parents are put through a series of tests, either scientific or in their everyday lives, alternately telling us how she and her partner came to discover their own route to conception. What’s beautiful is her lack of judgment in the journeys taken; each exploration and outcome is valued equal to her own. A brave and intimate collection. Recommended By Aubrey W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant exploration of the natural, medical, psychological, and political facets of fertility.
When Belle Boggs’s "The Art of Waiting" was published in Orion in 2012, it went viral, leading to republication in Harper’s, an interview on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, and a spot at the intersection of "highbrow" and "brilliant" in New York magazine’s "Approval Matrix."
In that heartbreaking essay, Boggs eloquently recounts her realization that she might never be able to conceive. She searches the apparently fertile world around her—the emergence of thirteen-year cicadas, the birth of eaglets near her rural home, and an unusual gorilla pregnancy at a local zoo—for signs that she is not alone. Boggs also explores other aspects of fertility and infertility: the way longing for a child plays out in the classic Coen brothers film Raising Arizona; the depiction of childlessness in literature, from Macbeth to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; the financial and legal complications that accompany alternative means of family making; the private and public expressions of iconic writers grappling with motherhood and fertility. She reports, with great empathy, complex stories of couples who adopted domestically and from overseas, LGBT couples considering assisted reproduction and surrogacy, and women and men reflecting on childless or childfree lives.
Boggs deftly distills her time of waiting into an expansive contemplation of fertility, choice, and the many possible roads to making a life and making a family.
"In this profound, deeply moving study of fertility and motherhood, Belle Boggs takes us on a remarkable journey. Her book ponders the nature of reproduction in modern America, which is of necessity a means of pondering the nature of family, which is in turn a means of pondering the nature of intimacy and love. The wisdom comes easily here, as Boggs considers the searing pain of disappointment, every structure of proleptic hope, and the widening of human relationships. She does all this and more in luminous, generous prose." Andrew Solomon
"This deeply empathetic book is about more than one woman’s challenge; it's about the whole scope of maternal urges, of how culture (and literature) treat the childless (or 'childfree'), how biases against medical intervention serve to stigmatize those who need such expensive (and not always successful) assistance, and how complicated can be the decisions about whether to adopt rather than continuing to attempt to conceive, the moral dimensions of international adoption (and surrogates), the additional hurdles facing gay couples, and the seemingly arbitrary differences between states as to what procedures are covered and to what financial limit....Boggs writes with considerable heart and engagement about the decisions that are so tough for so many....A story well-told and deeply felt." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Touch[es] on universal themes of hope, loss, and identity. Boggs shows a profound awareness of the value of story, drawing on fictional models of infertility such as those in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, conversations with childless female writing colleagues, and Joan Didion and Adrienne Rich’s writings on motherhood....Even though she calls herself "greedy for every kind of model," her reach for connection to the world feels expansive rather than self-centered....Boggs’s contemplative view of waiting as a mentally active practice offers comfort to those who cannot get exactly what they need even by the hardest of wishing." Publishers Weekly
"Boggs sensitively and creatively explores infertility, the struggle to get pregnant, and the entire concept of 'waiting,' which leads her to literature and pop culture....Deeply thoughtful, beautiful, and illuminating." Booklist
"A truly amazing and enlightening and informative memoir." The Charlotte Observer
About the Author
Belle Boggs is the author of Mattaponi Queen. Her stories and essays have appeared in Orion, Harper’s, the Paris Review, Ecotone, Slate, and many other publications. She teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.
Belle Boggs on PowellsBooks.Blog
Five years ago I met the North Carolina-born painter Beverly McIver in a Creative Capital workshop hosted by my state’s arts council. McIver, who had by then won a Guggenheim for her intimate portraits and self-portraits, led a session about the importance of claiming goals, especially the hardest-to-reach ones...