Don’t I Know You?


Until now. I’ve never read a piece of fiction in The New Yorker and thought, That author must have been sitting next to me singing “The Wheels on the Bus” in Mommy and Me class. But I’ll eat my flower hair wreath if Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s story, “The Erlking” isn’t set at the very same Pasadena Waldorf School Elves’ Faire at which I have many times lamented my lack of ability to felt.

Every sentence of the story resonated with me. It’s about the tragedy contained in those moments of disconnection between parent and child. It made me think of the ways that I’ll never know my son, the ways that the world he’s living in is so different from mine, even as we’re holding hands.

Generally, I have my mommy life and my life in literature and never the twain shall meet. Yes, I mom-blog with the best of ’em, but when I write (or even read) books, I put on a different hat entirely. Maybe I’m scared to write fiction that deals with issues around motherhood because I’m afraid it won’t be taken seriously. This fear of mine has me pandering to the very sentiment I loathe.

Bynum’s story married art and life in a way that I found both brave and profound. I had my standard jealous reaction when I read something fantastic– I wish I had done it myself.

2 thoughts on “Don’t I Know You?

  1. Sarah is an amazing writer (and,as it happens,someone I am lucky to know and call friend.) Read her book “Madeleine is Sleeping” –it is surreal and challenging and beautiful. I loved this story ,too, and found it razor sharp, brave and haunting, and also laughed to recognize that fair, and (gulp) the preschool my sweet son attended. I also just finished reading your memoir, and you are such a gifted and insightful storyteller yourself. I was amazed at the plain truths about love and loathing you conveyed amid the crazy glitter of your experiences.. I devoured the book, and look forward to your novel. And, for what it’s worth– I am not sure we’re missing out in all that much with the felting.

  2. We both read it last night- Baldwin’s mom handed it to us as something she had read and KNEW it would resonate with us (it’s nice having such a literary mother in law/neighbor/friend). It was really profound- and sad even.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *