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The Stud Book
by Monica Drake

Overview - A sharp-edged satire of contemporary motherhood from a comic novelist on the rise
In the hip haven of Portland, Oregon, a pack of unsteady but loyal friends asks what it means to bring babies into an already crowded world.
Sarah studies animal behavior at the zoo.
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More About The Stud Book by Monica Drake
 
 
 
Overview
A sharp-edged satire of contemporary motherhood from a comic novelist on the rise
In the hip haven of Portland, Oregon, a pack of unsteady but loyal friends asks what it means to bring babies into an already crowded world.
Sarah studies animal behavior at the zoo. She's well versed in the mating habits of captive animals, and at the same time she's desperate to mate, to create sweet little offspring of her own. Georgie is busy with a newborn, while her husband, Humble, finds solace in bourbon and televised violence. Dulcet makes a living stripping down in high school gyms to sell the beauty of sex-ed. Nyla is out to save the world while having trouble saving her own teen daughter, who has discovered the world of drugs and the occult. As these friends and others navigate a space between freedom and intimacy, they realize the families they forge through shared experience are as important as those inherited through birth.
A smart, edgy and poignantly funny exploration of the complexities of what parenthood means today, Monica Drake's second novel demonstrates that when it comes to babies, we can learn a lot by considering our place in the animal kingdom.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307955524
  • ISBN-10: 0307955524
  • Publisher: Hogarth
  • Publish Date: April 2013
  • Page Count: 318


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women
Books > Fiction > Satire

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-02-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

Sarah works at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Ore., monitoring animal behavior and mating activity while trying to carry a pregnancy to term after several miscarriages. Her academic friend Georgie is on maternity leave with a largely absent husband and a “French feminist tramp stamp.” Dulcet and Nyla, the other half of this friend foursome, are a bit older: Nyla has daughters in high school and college; photographer and sex-educator Dulcet has a medical marijuana prescription and a “living anatomy lesson” in the form of a bespoke latex suit covered with “an anatomically correct illustration of a woman’s internal organs... with the vulnerability of the inside lacing the outside.” All four are native Portlanders, and while Drake’s interest is clearly women’s lives and the push-pull forces of biology, what really stands out is her depiction of their city. This is not the twee wonderland of Portlandia—it’s a place where anything potentially usable goes on the curb with “paper signs screaming FREE!” despite the inevitable rain that turns would-be recyclables into a “multileveled mold collection.” Drake’s characters don’t just remember an older, more run-down city, they seem to inhabit it: Nyla opens a store in a dicey neighborhood, her daughter goes to a subpar school, day laborers wait for work. While the women’s specific plights don’t always carry enough weight, Drake (Clown Girl) combines their lives in a quirky, knowing way, showing the complexities of modern-day female life, species Pacific Northwest native. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (Apr.)

 
BookPage Reviews

A darkly comic look at motherhood

In Monica Drake’s unconventional, satirical second novel, The Stud Book, four longtime female friends grapple with the meaning of motherhood, relationships and their lives. Sarah studies animal behavior at the Oregon Zoo, fascinated by how and why animals mate and reproduce. She longs to have a baby of her own, but after three miscarriages, she’s not sure her dream will ever come true. She is (not so) quietly envious of her friends Georgie, who just had her first baby, and Nyla, who already has two children. Rounding out the group is Dulcet, a free spirit more interested in teaching high school students how not to get pregnant with a radical sex-ed presentation than in planning for a family. While these women are in their late 30s and early 40s, none of them have life quite figured out.

Drake probes the nuances of human relationships—mothers and children, husbands and wives, and circles of friends. Much is brewing just under the surface. Sarah will do almost anything to have a baby. Georgie loves her newborn daughter, but her husband is a drunk. Nyla thinks she is managing quite well as a single mother, but her teenage daughter is hiding some dangerous secrets. And while she’s satisfied in her work, Dulcet only seems to find true relief in prescription pills. Set in progressive Portland, Oregon, The Stud Book is a study in happiness (or the lack thereof) and the perils of wanting what we don’t—and maybe can’t—have.

One part comedy, two parts tragedy and three parts honest truth, The Stud Book is a wild ride full of dark humor—after all, Drake’s first novel, Clown Girl, had an introduction by Chuck Palahniuk. It’s a story of choices made and not made, human biology, and the bonds of family and friendship. Drake reminds us that we aren’t so different from our animal ancestors: Many of our desires are, and have always been, primal. What we choose to do with those desires, well, that’s what makes us human.

 
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