My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Erma Bombeck, the beloved newspaper columnist who wrote about the foibles of motherhood, expanded upon her familiar territory in "Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession." The result is a work that, though familiar-sounding, delves deeper and sometimes darker than her newspaper columns did.
For example, Bombeck reruns one of her most popular columns, a paean to the mothers of disabled children, answering it with a new companion piece where the mother of a disabled child criticizes the original column, calling it naive and speaking about the realities of her life. In another piece, Bombeck expands upon a newspaper column where she had joked about leaving behind letters for each of her children to tell them she'd loved them best. In "Motherhood," the expanded piece takes place at the mother's funeral, as each of the children reads his or her letter privately. The resulting work takes on a more serious, almost ponderous import.
In the pages of "Motherhood," Bombeck shows that she is capable of contemplating more than just the whereabouts of wayward socks disappeared from the dryer. While these pieces still evince her trademark wit, they go beyond classic Bombeck, exploring the deeper side of motherhood.
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