Monday, March 19, 2007

Rebecca Walker

I always love it when Dawn announces that she doesn't have time to blog, because inevitably she goes on to blog prolifically, and there is no such thing as too much of Dawn's blog (see, in the minute it took me to write that sentence, she put up another post!). Of course she is eminently sensible on Rebecca Walker's silly assertion that biological parents love their children more. I mean, Rebecca Walker may very well love her biological child more, and that's OK for her (I hope), but does it necessarily mean that all parents feel as she does? I think, perhaps, not?

It really was Rebecca Walker NY Times overload, what with the Style Section AND the Book Review, and that was way more than enough Rebecca Walker for me. Yeah, yeah, you had a baby and it changed your life, and you're a writer so you had to write a book about it. Hopefully, if the review is any indication, the book will serve as another shovelful of dirt on the grave of parenting lit, a genre whose body is starting to reek.

(Though I would like to know more about why she hates her mother. Maybe it's time for the pendulum to swing back to daughter lit. Alice Dearest, anyone?)


postacademic said...

Yeah. I was thinking about Rebecca and Alice Walker too: the article in the Style section makes the break between mother and daughter seem to be about the daughter's insistence on having her mother apologize for Everything That Went Wrong About Child Rearing in the 1970s. And the daughter's act of having a child makes for some kind of referendum or show-down on the mistakes of the mother. Not that I'm a paragon of mental health, but having given up on getting reparations from my parents for the 1970s (and 80s) has at least given me my parents in their old age: I wouldn't want to take a stand on old grievances at the expense of time with them now.

Anonymous said...

The article in the Washington Post made it sound a little different. It's from Rebecca's point of view, but it's hard to put a good spin on "no longer being interested in the job" of mother:

"Baby Love never mentions Alice Walker by name, and some readers may not infer the connection. Regardless, Rebecca's mother does not come off well. For years, she kept a sign over her desk comparing her young daughter to the obstacles faced by great women writers -- Virginia Woolf's madness, Zora Neale Hurston's poverty and ill health. "You have Rebecca," the sign reminded her, "who is much more delightful and less distracting than any of the calamities above." Walker had the right to say that (she concludes one important essay by quoting that sign in full), but for her daughter, there were consequences to being considered a "calamity," no matter how prettily it's put.

When Rebecca told her mother she was pregnant, Alice was hardly effusive. Later in the pregnancy, she suddenly threatened to denounce Rebecca in a letter to the online magazine Salon, which had recently quoted a passage from her memoir ( Black White and Jewish) that criticized her parents. "She called me a liar, a thief . . . and a few other completely discrediting unmentionables," reports Rebecca. Alice backed down, but there were more confrontations via e-mail: "She writes that she has been my mother for thirty years and is no longer interested in the job."

By the time Rebecca's son was born, they were no longer in communication. Perhaps because of the book's journal format, which puts big and small events on an equal footing, these developments don't get the attention they deserve. Nor do we know for sure what Alice's side of the story is -- though to be fair, this isn't her book."

Anonymous said...

I forgot to include the link to the Post article, sorry:

postacademic said...

Oy. Now I'm really confused. This is not a fight to get anywhere in the middle of or near. This is bad toxic mother/daughter tragedy. But now I'm wondering why I even know anything about it and distrust both parties.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments on Julie's "A Little Pregnant" blog today re Rebecca Walker.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is useful. Rebecca's mother was not "effusive" about Rebecca's pregnancy not because she rejected the idea of a pregnancy, but because of who she was having the baby with: her Buddhist teacher who was already married and has a young child. What is a mother to do when it appears her daughter has entered into an odd threesome with a man whose prominence as a Buddhist teacher needs to be supported by the younger Walker's fame (and income)? Needless to say, the senior Walker is skeptical of this arrangement. Choyin Rangdrol went from an Oakland Afrocentric denizen to an "International Buddhist" with the help of Walker's pushing his book. And what of the white mother of Choyin's other young child? Rebecca is so obsessed with competing with Alice Walker's fame by airing her personal issues and neuroses in public, that she cannot see that she is the one who continues to alienate people with her obsessive narcissism. Most of us just get therapy.

BTGarrison said...

I respect Rebecca's decision to exit an unhealthy codependent relationship with her mom, which she describes in both,"Black White and Jewish," and her new book,"Baby Love."

Besides, didn't Alice Walker, while married to her white husband, have an affair with a married black man that had a white wife and child, causing both families to fall apart? Maybe Alice's paranoia is based on her own past failures. She's a famous lecturer/author. I don't understand why she can't speak for herself about this? What's she afraid of?

I recently saw Rebecca on Good Morning America. She looked great, seemed happy with whatever 2007 lifestyle her mother disapproves of, and said she was open to healing their decades old rift? It's on record so we can be sure of that.

Dragonfly's celebrity stalking commentary offers nothing to heal this mother/daughter rift. We can also be sure of that.

Rebecca, we love you honey! May you write a dozen more perspicacious books on family life, and have as many lovers and babies your mother doesn't approve of. It's called being your own woman.


Anonymous said...

Oy! I hate that I'm posting on here because I've had enough of being privvy to this family's business, but did it ever occur to the other bloggers here who feel compelled to take sides that the woman who Rebecca is complaining about is not actually the woman who was her natural mother; or that the person whose behavior Alice is 'paranoid' about is not the person who is her natural daughter? The world swishes us this way and that through a series of characters. It is unfortunate when the characters we have begun to resemble are more pronounced to those that love us than are the original expansive, loving and nurturing souls they first knew us to be - and vice versa. Is it possible that people can come to see one another clearly again after they have turned each other into caricatures in an obsolete narrative? And if it is possible, can we all stop turning them into architypes and dwelling on the narratives for them when in actuality they are still living, hence present, hence infinite?

Anonymous said...

There is a lot more going on that the young Walker does not discuss. I have no sick need to take any sides but i can relate to so many elements of this story. I opposed my young daughter's marraige to someone she had only known a few weeks. She had a brilliant career ahead of her (I thought), magna cum laude graduate, full scholarship, etc. Why in the world would I be happy about her marrying a Marine right out of high school and letting go of college ? I had legitimate reasons for opposing. Years later, it seems to have turned out well for her. She finished college later and has her own brilliant career anyway as well as a family of her own. So, I was wrong that her decision would be the end of her, but I maintain to this very day as a mother that I was right to oppose such a foolish decision. (He could have waited.) She was fortunate. She dodged the bullet. Mother daughter relationships are fraught with many difficulties under the best of circumstances, and family life is a both/and affair not an either/or situation most of the time. Baby Love? Spare me. Genuis women (and men) like Alice Walker may not manage domestic affairs well especially without the help they need to assure the round the clock wellbeing of a child while trying to work. And as for the final breach: Alice Walker is not bound to give her daughter's partner a million bucks for his "operations" or else not see her grandson. Alice Walker is not the villain here. In any case, she is a grandmother now and her grandson ought to know her. It has always seemed to me that Rebecca Walker grew up in a privileged environment with a whole bunch of rights and not enough responsibilities, acted out mightily as a teenager and continues to act out as a mature woman, using her mother's name and fame to advance herself on the one hand while kicking dirt at the same time. It's a shame.