Ciara's Reviews > The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood, Illuminated

The Passion of the Hausfrau by Nicole Chaison
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's review
Aug 30, 09

bookshelves: autobio-memoir, graphic-novels, read-in-2009
Read in August, 2009, read count: once

this is a bit of an ambitious plan: to essentially transform a journal into an illuminated manuscript in the medieval tradition, modernized as the newest take of the new millennium's mommy memoir craze. i was pleasantly surprised when i read the author bio & discovered that chaison has been publishing a zine for a while, & the acknowledgments section was checkered with names of zinesters with whom i am acquainted. i'd never heard of her zine, which kind of surprised me. how could i not have heard of a zine that morphed into a book? i thought i had my ear to the ground. but i guess i haven't read too many parenting zines lately.

it took me a little while to get into this book, because sometimes the biggest parts of the story were in the little drawings along the side of each page, & sometimes i would forget to look at them & be confused when a story seemed to just trail off. or i would look at the drawings first & be totally confused by what was going on. once i figured out that i have to teach each page one at a time & thoroughly read the text & examine the drawings, i got into it more.

the book idea came about after chaison's mother gave her the gift of an "autobiography" "penned" by a football star with whom chaison attended college. due to chaison's thorny personal relationship with her mother, she interpreted the gift as a slight making fun of the fact that chaison had always voiced an ambition to be a writer, but was instead toiling away as a stay-at-home mother living in a currently-being-renovated victorian in maine while her husband tried to get his non-profit organization off the ground. in other words, this football player who has suffered like seventeen concussions "wrote" a book (with his ghostwriters & too many subtitles); why haven't you?

after a bout of pneumonia that involved hallucinogenic herbal treatments & chaison's son reading her journal & praising it for its hilariousness, she decided to turn the journal into her book. & this, i guess, is the product. yeah, it gets a little meta, being the story of the journal being turned into a book told through excerpts in the journal...with footnotes...& illustrations. but i enjoyed it.

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