Nevertheless, when a book really does it for me, I try to put something together to express my feelings of gratitude to the author. And it really is gratitude. A good book is no small thing, nor (more to the point) is a bad one. When you watch a movie that you think is going to be good and it turns out to be a stinker, that's a good two hours of your life that you've tossed away. But when it's a book that leads you astray, the hours and even days that you've invested in it that you'll never get back. You'll be on your death bed one day, muttering to yourself, "If only I hadn't spent so much time reading all that fucking L. Ron Hubbard." You learn to cherish the good ones.
When I started reading Rebecca Woolf's Rockabye: From Wild to Child, I'd followed the marketing closely enough to know what I was supposed to be getting. I settled in to read another memoir of a party girl transitioning to parenthood while struggling to remain hip and cool. Which was certainly fine. Never having been actually cool myself, that transition was fairly straightforward for me, so I occasionally like to vicariously gank some cool from others.
By the time I finished Rockabye, I was looking at a different book altogether.
Simply put, this is a book about the tranformational power of a parent's love, the kind of love that can envelope you and warm you, but also consume and burn you. In bringing her son Archer into the world, Woolf begins to discover her own true heart and her own capacity for love and growth. Yes, part of that evolution involves leaving behind some of the party-all-the-time aspects of her youth, but the more important parts of herself, her independence and her insistence on doing things her own way, relying on her instincts, these are the pieces that she clings to.
I want to make something clear. Rebecca Woolf is a fantastic writer. She's open and honest, unblinkingly so at times, and yet her command of language and the near poetry of her wordplay feels like music. It's been a long time since I've gotten lost in language like that, just floating in someone's wordplay.
There are some striking parallels to Woolf's story and mine (or rather, to Archer's and Schuyler's), but I don't want to make too much of them. I would recommend her book to anyone who liked mine, if only because of some of those parallels, but honestly, I'd rather recommend Rockabye for no other reason than I found it to be a viscerally satisfying read. At its best, it feels like a gift, and it's at its best a lot.
I think you'll like this book. I'm pretty sure most of you will. Rebecca Woolf's the writer that I wish I was, and that's the truth.
Thank you for choosing me to mother you. Thank you for sneaking in through my window and saying "Boo! Here I am!" Thank you for stirring and purring and screaming and crying and laughing and talking and standing and jumping. You are my exclamation point in a world of dot-dot-dots. You are my star in a sky muted by city lights. You are my sun. My son. My sun.
Rebecca Woolf, "Rockabye: From Wild to Child"