Around The Pregnancy World in Eighty Ways

I received a nice personal rejection from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency for this thing I wrote about tiny baby elephants so I need to figure out where else I can send it.

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et/2012/06/05/reviews/roxane-gay/with-the-animals-noelle-revaz/”>reviewed Noelle Revaz’s absolutely stunning With the Animals for Full Stop. One of my favorite stories, Break All the Way Down, is being featured at Joyland. This is a story I really wanted to find a home and it did and it was even featured on Longreads last week as one of the Top 5 Longreads of the week so that was really quite lovely. I also have a story, Just Be Nice, in Stymie Magazine. Another part of my project, Glass, entitled Who We Are Beneath the Glass, is in Versal 10, which is a gorgeous, full color print magazine you want to own. My essay, How to Write a Love Story, is in issue 34.1 of Indiana Review, another beautiful magazine you want to own.

In other writing news, blah blah blah yes this is not interesting but I’m going to be writing a weekly-ish column for Salon, mostly essays about current events and pop culture and whatever has me thinking or feeling. This is an exciting, unexpected opportunity but one I am looking forward to even if I find it somewhat intimidating. I will still be writing for The Rumpus about once a month, and will continue editing the essays there so direct your work to our new submission manager.

Remember this epic choreography from School Daze?

I’ve been pretty obsessed with it for the past several days, doing the choreography in my livingroom and such. I love the hand eagle flutter from the chest move the ladies do from about 1:18 to 1:25. I love the beginning, in silhouette, and suddenly, long, slender arms, raised into the air. The dresses! So damn tight. Literally, tight. Those are, “We haven’t eaten for the past two weeks,” dresses and the ladies WERKED THE HELL out of them.

Let’s start coordinating a performance of that dance for AWP 13 soon, okay?

[A bunch of ridiculous dating stories]

I love summer but the lack of structure is actually a bit difficult. I have all my time to myself? WHAT DO I DO? I am working on things. I’ve made some inroads with assembling an essay collection. I’m working on my novel revision that I’m nearly finished with. I have a new agent, Maria Massie, who I met while I was in NYC (the trip was great). She’s wonderful, very nice and also very pretty. We sat in a conference room. It felt very fancy. We talked about all kinds of fun things, most of which had nothing to do with publishing and then we did talk about publishing and I felt confident that she can steer the ship. My former agent is wonderful but it was time for a change.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading. So far the best thing I’ve gotten into is Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder which, thus far, is a marvel with the turn of every page.

Elizabeth Crane’s We Only Know So Much is one of the more charming books I’ve read this year. It’s an ensemble book but the character who feels most prominent, nineteen year old Priscilla, is bitter and bitchy in the best ways and when she needs to come through for her family, she does. The narrative voice here drove me a little crazy but the characters were so richly drawn I loved the book anyway.

Joshua Henkin’s The World Without You surprised me. This novel is also an ensemble piece about the Frankel family coming together for a memorial, a year after the death of Leo, beloved son and brother. His three sisters each have personal dramas and the parents are on the verge of separating and though this is not a novel with an intricate plot, it works very well as a character study of a family trying to work their way through overwhelming grief.

For a change of pace, I picked up John Scalzi’s Redshirts, which is a parody novel, taking up space opera television, but the novel definitely transcends the parody and is just so fucking funny. The writing could and should be stronger. Some of the typos are maddening. BUT, the book reads really fast and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Whatever the flaws may be, this is a smart book. Scalzi truly understood the genre he was parodying and because I’ve watched every Star Trek series, I really got what the book was doing and was able to appreciate it. Redshirts makes me want to write a parody novel of Lifetime movies called The Time Of Her Lives. Don’t think I won’t!

The Hairpin recommended Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything so I decided to read it and I’m pretty obsessed with the book now. You should read it. It’s so mod and mid-century and it’s like a more female-oriented version of Mad Men where publishing is substituted for advertising. I want to talk about this book with everyone because I got deeply invested in the story and the women the book follows. April! Poor Gregg! Caroline! Barbara! Their livers and lungs!

Speaking of Mad Men…. Joan Holloway! Fierce.

I saw The Dictator. It was fine. I certainly laughed and enjoyed some of the jokes. On the whole, the movie felt a bit too rushed and hollow which is what I feel with most of Sascha Baren Cohen’s projects. He’s talented and he has a point of view but he seems hell bent on making movies that are way too abbreviated and he sacrifices something in doing that. He crammed a whole bunch of nonsense into a really short movie instead of picking a few awesome moments of nonsense and trying to develop them into something more compelling. Still, I laughed. My companion laughed. This other couple walked out which was hilarious because I spent the next twenty minutes wondering what has driven them from the theatre.

I also saw What to Expect When You’re Expecting thinking it would be a lark, another movie to laugh at, and instead it made me want to shoot myself in the face. This is not the movie to see if you have any sort of sensitivity around motherhood. I may have spent the hours after watching the movie crying into a diet cherry pepsi in a dark room, feeling sorry for myself. Suffice it to say, my version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting would be markedly different from this movie.

The list of things wrong with this movie are so many. For one, it’s a movie based on a pregnancy manual, one I’ve actually read and think is a pretty decent book but a movie a manual does not make. This movie is not good. It’s not that bad. The cast does their best with meager material but the script is soulless and contrived and that makes What to Expect When You’re Expecting one of those utterly forgettable movies. No one will be talking about this movie in…well, we’ve already passed that point.

The book itself is only featured for about fifteen seconds and never explicitly references so that, in and of itself, was pretty disconcerting or just stupid. I don’t understand that choice at all and have spent way too much time trying to make sense of it.

Like most ensemble productions, the movie flits between vignettes with such frequency it’s hard to have a clear sense of who is doing what. One of the best parts of a good ensemble drama is seeing, in the last third of the movie or so, how all the principals are connected. They did this really half-assed thing where the principals were tenuously connected, save for the father/son, in the lamest ways so there was really little to hold on to during a movie that was about twenty minutes too long.

Oh, I’m being generous. The movie was two hours too long.

Essentially, this movie took several different pregnancy-related scenarios and threw them into one movie and tried to make it “funny.” This movie was Around The Pregnancy World in Eighty Ways, a survey of the fertility experience, only the movie was very selective in the pregnancy narratives it highlighted as if there are only four categories of the pregnant experience.

The movie opens on Cameron Diaz’s body, ripped to hell and back. She’s some kind of fitness guru, a heterosexual Jillian Michaels, if you will, and she’s performing on Fake Dancing With the Stars. Mr.Schuester from Glee, is her dance partner and they are dancing in the finale, which they win. During the trophy presentation, Cameron suddenly looks nauseous and I saw what happened next coming from oh, about a parsec away. Cameron proceeded to vomit into the crystal goblet trophy thing because a movie is fundamentally incapable of foreshadowing pregnancy without involving a vomit situation.

Oh hell, I can’t even bring myself to really write about this movie.

There are four primary couples–an older man (Dennis Quaid)/younger woman (Brooklyn Decker who is getting around these days, cinematically speaking) where Decker GLOWS throughout her pregnancy and has twins and all is right with the world. She barely gains weight and wears six inch heels and waxes poetically about the joys of her bountiful womb. It’s supposed to be a humorous contrast to the other main couple–Elizabeth Banks and some guy who is in a lot of movies but whose name doesn’t ever come to mind. He’s funny as hell and played Air Marshall Jon in Bridesmaids. Anyway, they’ve struggled with fertility and finally give up and magically she ends up pregnant (OF COURSE!). She owns a… baby store of some kind involving breasts because breasts are SO FUNNY and she expects that motherhood is going to be a glorious experience only it isn’t. She’s Hollywood Fat (Size 2) and bloated and ankle swollen and hot and itchy and rashy and so on and she realizes pregnancy kind of sucks and she says so in a keynote speech at some kind of Mommy Convention and someone videotapes it and it goes viral. Cameron is a nearing 40 workaholic who doesn’t need a man, she can have her baby all by herself until, of course, she needs her man so that the heterosexual narrative remains neatly intact. Finally, Chace Crawford (who seems strangely interchangeable with Zac Efron) and one of the secondary cast members from Twilight went to high school together and now they run food trucks (?!?!) and she is sarcastic and he’s charming and they have sex and it only takes one time, kids, because she gets pregnant and they decide to make it work, and, of course, she has a miscarriage. Why? Because pregnancy doesn’t always have a happy fucking ending and the movie wants to truly reflect the full range of pregnancy experiences. As. If. Mostly, she has the miscarriage so there can be some dramatic tension forcing the young couple to break up before they come back together. How do we bring this about? Kill the [insert your terminology of choice]. Last but not least, J. Lo and the hot guy from Lost who everyone hated can’t have a baby au naturel so they decide to adopt a baby from Ethiopia and he is dragging his feet and she really wants

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the baby and the adoption comes through much faster than they’re expecting and he gets fatherhood advice from a group o guys, some dads including Chris Rock (who looks absolutely… terrible in this movie), all of whom are very evolved about fatherhood in what is supposed to be an accessible, charming way. Mostly, they’re grating, though they offer a few laughs.

In the end, everyone has their babies save for Twilight Girl and everyone lives happily ever after.

There is one highlight in the movie: