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."