An Excellent Choice
From Emma Brockes, author of She Left Me The Gun, comes an explosive and hilarious memoir about the life-changing decision to conceive a child on one’s own via assisted reproduction.
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I mumble ‘I need to order some sperm’. The receptionist puts me through to a technician to see if what I want is available. ‘Number?’ says the man. I give him the reference for my sperm donor. There is a clacking of keys, followed by a short pause. Then with the smoothness of a sommelier fielding a wine order at dinner, he says ‘An excellent choice’.
Emma Brockes is thirty-seven, lives alone, and wants children. She is in a relationship (good!) but they aren’t doing the parenting together (weird!). Her partner, L, has her own child. Emma needs sperm, a doctor, and not to bankrupt herself before any child arrives. And that’s just the beginning – there are a million choices to make when you are taking the untraditional route to motherhood.
Is she ready to be a single mother? Is there a way of talking about any of this honestly without being too defensive or too jolly? Should the sperm donor be a writer like her, or someone with completely different talents (something equally interesting, just not too interesting ie. a mime artist)? Are high-waisted postnatal support pants essential or optional? What will her baby be to L? Will they be parallel parenting? Proximal parenting? Parenting in each other’s general direction?
Brockes navigates these decisions against a background of uninvited opinion, scolding, and the general hysteria that always accompanies a woman’s decision to have (or not have) children. With generous heart and humour, An Excellent Choice examines essential questions about motherhood and the modern family – and asks how and why so many women are choosing to solo parent.
There are more and more women choosing to have children later in life, outside the confines of convention, but never before have I read our experiences so astutely conveyed ... Brockes has finally given voice to this central female experience with wit and intelligence. I’m grateful for it.
So smart and tartly charming (think “Fleabag” meets Helen Fielding) ... It’s hard to fault her.
Brockes generously details, with wit and wisdom, how she made the decision to become a single mother and what it took to get there.
An Excellent Choice illuminates not one, but a whole host of still quasi-taboo topics from sperm donors to assisted reproduction. Brockes is a beautiful writer, a wonderful story-teller, and a keen observer of human nature.
Funny, poignant and heartwarming.
Brockes’ sharp observations, about others and, relentlessly, herself, are what make the book compelling.
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