A mother's advice to her daughter:. . . when a woman wants to have a baby all she *really* has to do is keep still. (Well, first she puts on her laciest negligee--yes, yes, just like this one--and then she lies back on her bed like so, with her hair spread over the pillows like this, and her eyelids low and her lashes lush, and then she does it--she keeps perfectly, *perfectly* still--and she waits for the man to come in and climb on her like a kind lion.)
This wonderful novella is full of tough love and strange beliefs and language language language. Penny is a young woman trying to untangle the relationship between words and world, between a lover and a lost cause, between etymology and the way meanings explode in the knotty contexts of people, power, the past.
It's a very funny book. It's told in a manner that manages both utter strangeness and the comforts of the story arc. It has odd moments--never more than three or four lines between 'em--like that strange "kind lion," where the sounds and the functions of the words collide, deriving sharp new flavors from familiar ingredients. McDonnell is a wonderful writer, and this is a fine little book. Thanks to Edan for the rec!