the girlchild's mother

Jessica had a question:

I have sort of a random question… Given that her mother is a Big Famous Author, what do your daughter’s tastes in books run toward? (I know that that sentence is so badly worded, but I’m severely undercaffeinated this morning and can’t think of an alternative.)

The girlchild doesn’t read my books, which really, I understand. She most likely doesn’t really want to know all the stuff I’ve got in my head. As far as having a novelist mother is concerned, I think she is alternately proud and mortified, but mostly mortified. Of course everything I do embarrasses her. I told her long ago about the conference phone call at three a.m. where all us mothers put our heads together to think up new ways to mortify teenagers. I’ve explained that I’m under a contractual obligation to cause her to wince every day at least ten times. Oddly, she isn’t mollified by the knowledge that she’s not the only one.

When I was a teenager I wouldn’t cook when my father was around because well, he was a Cook. Arturo, the Cook, is how everybody thought of him. I baked instead, because he didn’t bake and he was appreciative of baked goods. I did learn to cook from him, you understand, but not by cooking in front of him.

The girlchild is currently reading about five books at once, most of them about as different from my books as you can get. She loves Gregory Maguire’s books (Wicked was one of her early book crushes), and she reads a lot of memoirs about people who have dealt with addiction. This topic is of interest because there’s a history of alcoholism in my family that I’ve always talked to her about very openly, in the hope that she would think not twice, but twenty times before she started drinking. And then, because she’s seventeen, she’ll turn on a dime and go re-read the whole Little House series. She loves Harry Potter. Once in a while I suggest a book I think she’ll like. My biggest success was Patchett’s The Magician’s Assistant, which she adored and we talked about for a long time.

In short, she’s got her own aesthetic and interests which in large part down overlap with mine. Maybe as she gets older. I hope. I like talking to her about books.