Monday, January 29, 2007

An abortion short story anthology?

I've been off-schtick for some time now, because the editors of First Things are on one of their protracted anti-abortion campaigns. I personally can be fairly pigeonholed in the "mushy middle": disapproving of abortion but unwilling to make it illegal. For that and other reasons, I usually don't read First Things when that subject is on the heavy rotation playlist.

However, in this post, Joseph Bottum floats the idea of assembling an anti-abortion short story collection. He lists several stories, none of which I'm familiar with, but some of which sound interesting. So, I'll in turn suggest one. For such a collection, I'd nominate Harlan Ellison's "Croatoan". When it was anthologized, Ellison gleefully related in the introduction how he had gotten sacks of hate mail from feminists, pro-lifers, animal welfare activists--and one from an employee of the NYC sewer system. I was mightily impressed with Ellison back when I was a spacy adolescent, and this is one of the many stories of his that has stuck with me, well into the years where the broad mind and narrow waist trade places. Aside from that, it's a good, disquieting story, and ought to fit in to Bottum's anthology.

Update: Bottum also wonders about anti-abortion poetry. Here's one that appeared in First Things years ago:

Extra place set at your mind's table
like Ezekiel's empty glass, clean spoon.

Hands that never pointed out the moon,
laid the baby in the Christmas stable,

dried dishes. Voice that doesn't call
downstairs that he or she will be there

soon. In steam behind a bathroom door,
no one puts on makeup, leaves a towel

for you to find. No hairdryer.
No C in French. No midnight curfew,

no slamming door, no not-speaking-to.
When was it you began to hear

silence? They don't tell you
about that voice, clear, insistent, steady

as a heartbeat, asking, *How weren't you ready?*
-- Sally Thomas, "Choice"

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