Chouette – a feminist fairytale explores mother-love

Rhiannon Cosslett in The Guardian:

Tiny is pregnant, but not as we know it: she is expecting an “owl-baby”, the result of a secret tryst with a female “owl-lover”. “This baby will never learn to speak, or love, or look after itself”, Tiny knows. Her husband, an intellectual property lawyer, thinks her panic is just pregnancy jitters, and that she’s carrying his child. Even when he finds a disembowelled possum on the path and his “well fed” wife sitting in the dark (“It didn’t feel dark to me. I see everything”), he doesn’t believe. Then the baby is born.

Chouette, Claire Oshetsky’s first novel, is part feminist fairytale in the vein of Angela Carter, part suburban body horror. Its epigraph is a quote from the David Lynch film Eraserhead: “Mother, they are still not sure it is a baby!” That film, which centres around an alien-like infant, was, according to Lynch’s daughter Jennifer, based on her own “birth defects”. Oshetsky describes the novel as being inspired by her experience of raising “non-conforming children”, and is herself autistic. Her depiction of a baby who misses its developmental milestones, doesn’t speak and lashes out when frightened will be familiar to some families with experience of disability or neurodiversity.

More here.