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Book review: “The Long Answer” by Anna Hoagland

lengthy reply, by Anna Hoagland


The query that retains many ladies awake at evening now could be whether or not our authorities will abolish or help our proper to manage and select our reproductive destinies. For 50 years, the regulation has acknowledged a lady’s physique as non-public, a lady’s life is our life, and now the best to decide on our personal future is in jeopardy. What’s the drawback in that? That is the query that this primary novel asks.

It seems that the “lengthy reply” consists of a variety of complicated details for ladies with reproductive programs: childbirth, childbirth problems, miscarriages, D&Es, stillbirths, miscarriages, egg donation, fertility remedies, being pregnant, being pregnant problems and infertility. This guide addresses all of these experiences and is actually a panoramic account of the various methods girls carry, carry and lose their infants, the various attainable and unimaginable decisions to make, and the various surrenders and compulsions to endure. All accounts within the novel make it clear that the one factor that makes any of them attainable is the company that every lady can declare.

The 2 girls on the coronary heart of the guide are sisters, however they don’t seem to be shut. The novel begins with a cellphone name between a lady named Anna and her older sister, Margot, who reveals that she has miscarried her second youngster (she has a wholesome younger youngster); Anna didn’t know that her sister was pregnant. however me he’s Newly pregnant along with her first youngster, so their dialog is reduce quick and succinct. The 2 sisters are unable to search out frequent floor till they start discussing the intimate particulars of a 3rd lady, Elizabeth, whose in depth again story we get – slightly than that of Anna and Margot.

This story-within-a-story system happens thrice: Though Anna, Margot, and their mom are ostensibly the primary characters, they step again and reveal little or no about themselves. As an alternative, we hear in nice element in regards to the lives of three different girls—Elizabeth, Corrie, and Marisol—as advised by Anna. (The creator is a wizard, studying this guide isn’t any completely different than tapping into another person’s session.) These intertwined tales are the place readers discover girls of colour, bisexuality, histories of abuse and neglect, and life-defining poverty. Every of those girls seems, all the things leaks and disappears from Anna’s life.

Anna retains an in depth eye on the opposite girls – we all know this as a result of in her yoga class she observed that Cory’s toenails had been unpainted and her yoga garments had been low cost. However these particulars appear somewhat low cost. Cory is poor and her story is stunning and unhappy, however her issues are by no means solved or explored as a result of she solely will get one episode. Is her story vital or not? With girls residing below the specter of reproductive rights’ demise — sure, her story is vital: it is value listening and studying. From the primary character’s perspective, Cory is likely one of the many tales Anna makes use of to type and provides which means to her life.

Or perhaps to know all of our lives. Anna typically says: “I wanted tales like this now. I wanted them as if I wanted water and salt, to inform me what was attainable in the midst of life.” I am proper there along with her, gluttonous for ladies’s narratives, our histories, our pictures, and our views. Now these tales are essential. I am going to hearken to all of them, even when this explicit novel appears disturbingly unsure about whose story it’s – that of the protagonist or the supporting characters. Whether or not or not this guide harmoniously brings their voices collectively, it makes clear and reiterates that the dear little conditions between girls and reproductive slavery, and our tales—these vivid accounts we have heard, whispered, and written into novels—proceed to indicate that we dwell lives value residing, that ladies are human beings. viable.


Brenda Shaughnessy is the creator of the current guide The Octopus Museum. She has two new books, “Liquid Flesh: New and Chosen Poems” and “Tania”, about to be launched.


lengthy reply, by Anna Hoagland | 304 p. | Riverhead Books | $26