The End We Start From by Megan Hunter review – parenting in the end times

By Justine Jordan

This fragmentary debut novel sets the shock of new motherhood against an England hit by apocalyptic floods

Having a baby can feel like the end of the world. In her slim, fragmentary debut novel, Megan Hunter examines new motherhood against an apocalyptic scenario in which flooding tips England into chaos: as the narrator’s waters break, the waters in London rise. As in Emma Donoghue’s Room, where the notorious Fritzl case inspired an exploration of the claustrophobia and intensity of the mother-child relationship, the extremity of the setting powers the novel’s central metaphor at the same time as throwing the repetitions and revelations of parenting into sharp relief.

It is also part of a growing trend to approach parenthood side on, smash it into fragments, and offer up the shards. Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation did this brilliantly in 2014, jumbling together motherhood, marriage and stifled ambition. Rivka Galchen’s Little Labours, published this month, is a miscellany of new parenthood with its own arresting metaphor: to have a baby, she writes, is to welcome a puma into your apartment.

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