Bringing up baby

<strong>Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’roll</strong>

Evelyn McDonnell <em>Da Capo Pres

The British world of "mummy lit" can be stultifying: a middle-class whirl of pashminas, three-wheeled pushchairs and dreamy dads glimpsed at the nursery gates. But the US has its own subculture of “hip mamas” (named after the parenting fanzine of the same name) where counter-culture and childbearing exist in harmony.

Mamarama is the memoir of a woman whose hip credentials are impeccable: former music editor of the Village Voice, big tattoo down her left arm, co-editor of the compendium of women’s music journalism Rock She Wrote and pop culture critic of the Miami Herald. Evelyn McDonnell takes us through her transformation from rebellious punk rocker to a mother of one and stepmother of two, via a failed first marriage and a host of political marches, gigs and fanzines. She coins the term “mamarama” to describe what she sees as a new wave of artistic, politically progressive breeders, inspired by prominent creative mums such as Patti Smith and Kristin Hersh.

Unfortunately, McDonnell’s transformation is less radical than she thinks it is, and her prose fails to elucidate. The tale remains one told by a journalist rather than a novelist; as a result, her story never quite springs to life.

This article first appeared in the 11 June 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Russia: The beggar becomes the belligerent