After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She's ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she's always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.
But just like her beloved New York City, Maria's life has a darker side. Behind her mother's carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.
This wise, hip novel introduces shades of gray into the black-and-white ideas of sexuality and gender. Anyone who has ever wished they could be a little bit tough and a little bit glamorous will recognize themselves in Johnny.
Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book—a key inspiration for Rivka Galchen’s new book—contains a list of “Things That Make One Nervous.” And wouldn’t the blessed event top almost anyone’s list?
Little Labors is a slanted, enchanted literary miscellany. Varying in length from just a sentence or paragraph to a several-page story or essay, Galchen’s puzzle pieces assemble into a shining, unpredictable, mordant picture of the ordinary-extraordinary nature of babies and literature. Anecdotal or analytic, each part opens up an odd and tender world of wonder. The 47 Ronin; the black magic of maternal love; babies morphing from pumas to chickens; the quasi-repellent concept of “women writers”; origami-ophilia in Oklahoma as a gateway drug to a lifelong obsession with Japan; discussions of favorite passages from the Heian masterpieces Genji and The Pillow Book; the frightening prevalence of orange as today’s new chic color for baby gifts; Frankenstein as a sort of baby; babies gold mines; babies as tiny Godzillas …
Little Labors–atomized and exploratory, conceptually byzantine and freshly forthright–delights.