Canadian and US women--and at least one man--write about experiencing perimenopause and menopause. Even though it's right in the title, I was surprised that many of the contributions were short stories. I was expecting essays, maybe because that's what was in another meno book I read a few years ago, Off the Rag (hella recommended btw). I don't mind the stories, not at all, but it took me a while to figure out that Chrissie Hynde wasn't really serving as Rea Tarvydas's fairy bloodmother. The Chrissie Hynde Stories is the first entry in the book after the intro, and possibly my favorite, vying with editor Jane Cawthorne's Disassembly for that honor (such as it is).
Disassembly is told from the point of view of a boy in a family of boys with a perimenopausal mom and a dad who works at a slaughterhouse. He's not the most pleasant guy in the world, and his countenance is not improved when he gets laid off. The story isn't centered on the mom's hormones the way the CH Stories are; it's just powerful.
Tori Amos fans, there's an interview with her about how she acknowledges and speaks about menopause symptoms while on tour. Co-editor E.D. Morin interviews trans man, Buck Angel, about his chemical perimeno. I was surprised by his being described as "born a biological female," and there were other bits that some trans folks in my world (Angel approved of the text, so like I said, trans folks I know, but no experience is universal, right?) would probably object to, so if you might object, prepare yourself. It's great that the editors include men experiencing meno/perimeno.
The story Drenched by Leanna McClennan led me to ask my boss if we could have a menstrual hut in our new library building. The protagonist didn't have any luck, but maybe I will.
You need a menstrual hut?
"Your aformentioned request will be duly considered in relation to the specified regulations and directed to the appropriate channels," my friend the office manager wrote in reply to my email request.
I appreciated the essay Ugly Duckling Syndrome by Carolyn Gage, where she read the children's story as a syndrome and a culture.
I had a terrible time with periods, hating my body and hating my womanhood. This was because duck culture doesn't make allowances for swan cycles.
Duck culture is linear, based on a definition of progress as stead accretion. Swan culture is cyclical, spiralling.
So far, and I'm only just at the beginning, perimenopause seems to be decidedly in camp spiral, not camp linear. I'm afraid I'd prefer duck culture just this once.
The book also include poems, which aren't my favorite form of literature, so I didn't comment on them. I shared the book with a menopausal bestie, who texted me that she loves the book and the "old school wymyn." Embrace it, fellow crones!