Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Portable Childhoods: "Portable Childhoods"

The title story of this collection is a series of 10 scenes of a mother and her 9 year old daughter. The mother is never named, neither is the daughter. Names don't really matter, though it took me a couple scenes to really figure that out and also to grasp that these were all about the same mother and daughter. But, that also does not really matter, though it helps form a sense of continuity across the otherwise unconnected scenes.

The scenes are narrated through the eyes of the mother and glimpses of this child are nearly enough to make the reader want a 9 year old daughter just like the child in the story, even the moments where the mother struggles to be the parent because the child is being a child.

These are quiet moments: teaching the friend of her daughter how to bet at cards, teaching her daughter how to shuffle, cursive writing, and a delightful story about Columbus Day. Charming. Wonderful. Quiet. Ellen Klages is not doing anything flashy here, but she is giving a beautiful portrait of motherhood and childhood. It's a reminder that the best parts of life, of motherhood, and of childhood aren't the big moments. It's the quiet moments that most people don't see.

Klages gets this, or more accurately, she conveys this.

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