Let’s annotate: “Good Mother,” by Sierra Crane Murdoch
Plus: You have until this Saturday 1/22 to sign up for this month’s discussion
Hope you had a good MLK weekend! This month at Article Club, we’re reading “Good Mother,” by Sierra Crane Murdoch. Big thanks to Toronzo, Jennifer, Bonnie, Summer, Melissa, Peter, and Abde for already signing up for our January 30 discussion.
If you’re interested but haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time (until Saturday, January 22). Here’s more information about the article. Then click the big button below.
This week, we’re doing two things: (1) annotating this copy of the article together and (2) sharing our impressions of the beginning of the article (see below).
Annotating is a great way to connect with other Article Clubbers and share your thoughts about the piece, right inside the text. You can build on others’ comments or add your own. Try it, you’ll like it! (Remember, we don’t have to be smart at AC.)
And now, let’s try something new…
Let’s read the beginning and share what we think
I got this idea from Wes and author George Saunders, who writes Story Club (like Article Club, but for fiction). To build community, to spark interest, and to get conversation going, Mr. Saunders reveals just the beginning of a piece and asks everyone to share their first thoughts.
Don’t worry, this isn’t mandatory – but it would be great to hear from all of you, even if you can’t make this month’s discussion!
OK, here’s the excerpt. Read it, then I invite you to leave a comment by clicking the green button below. Also feel free to reply to others’ thoughts!
I am alone in my apartment wondering what makes a good mother. Three days ago, on the eleventh of October, a packet arrived from a county social services department in North Dakota. The cover letter explained that a friend of mine was applying to be a foster parent. The department hoped I would answer some questions regarding “what you feel they can provide for a Foster Child.” The letter did not say so explicitly, but I understood it was asking me to determine what kind of mother my friend would make.
I use the word “friend,” though this is perhaps the first time I have referred to Lissa Yellow Bird this way publicly. “I came to know her better than anyone I’ve ever known,” I write in response to the second question, What is your relationship to the applicant? To the first, How long have you known the applicant? I reply, “Since November 2014.” That was when I first interviewed Lissa, for an article I was writing, before I knew that the article would become a book, and that the book would be, in large part, the story of her life. I am a journalist, and journalists, I have been taught, do not befriend their subjects. Lissa believes this is a dumb, reductive, “colonized” way of going about the work, though she agrees that “friend” inadequately describes our relationship. It is more accurate to say that I am a person who asked for her story and to whom she then chose to divulge her secrets. I don’t write this on the questionnaire. Instead I write, “We speak regularly on the phone, often for hours each week.”
What did you think? What are your first impressions? What are your questions? What are your predictions? What do you want to know or talk more about?
Coming up this month
This week: We’ll annotate the article with fellow Article Clubbers.
Next week: We’ll listen to Ms. Murdoch’s thoughts about the article.
Sunday, January 30: We’ll discuss the article with fellow Article Clubbers.
Are you new to Article Club? If so, welcome! We look forward to meeting you and having your voice in the conversation. Feel free to reach out with questions: email@example.com.
I liked how the author created the basis for different but possibly connected ideas that we might expect in the article. Adoption, strong friendships, journalism and writing, and how we deal with the government.
I’ll jump in! I love the author’s first sentence. She’s alone in her apartment. She’s wondering what makes a good mother. I make an inference that she’s thinking about her own motherhood (real or potential). But instead: This wondering is for / about someone else.
Also, I feel a sense of foreboding, or maybe an anxious tone – either because of something she doesn’t know, or some past, or something that will be revealed.
And then I also appreciated this line: “It is more accurate to say that I am a person who asked for her story and to whom she then chose to divulge her secrets.” Here’s the truth, the author seems to be saying. And also: Does this questionnaire / the government really want the truth?