FRANK PREGNANCY TALK Frank discussion of pregnancy symptoms, emotions, side-effects and oddities.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Scathing Review

A fellow pregnancy author submitted a review of my Frankly Pregnant book to our local newspaper. Yes, she lives out here too. We even frequent the same tennis club. This is the first bad review I’ve had and I wonder if this is more than just a professional opinion. What do you think?

“Frankly Pregnant” Stacy Quarty
With Miriam Greene
St. Martin’s Press, $14.95

By Tracie Hotchner

What has our world come to, when a pregnant belly has become a fashion statement — so much so that there was even a report in The New York Times that the “un-pregnant” are now surreptitiously buying designer maternity fashions? This latter phrase, by the way, would have been unheard of not so many years ago, when the words “designer” and “fashion” could never logically have been linked in the same breath with “pregnancy.”

But the modern image of pregnancy has been changed by movie and television stars flaunting their burgeoning condition at every public opportunity like modern-day fertility goddesses, wearing those stylish clothes to accentuate their bellies.

It is a far cry from the long-gone era when pregnant women were kept entirely out of sight “in confinement,” or even the recent past when pregnant women walked amongst us but in maternity clothes that were concealing tents, revealing no contours or particulars. But now in the 21st century an expectant belly is delineated in skintight clothing or even peeks out in the nude below a too-small top and low-slung maternity pants.

And what has happened to our society when the perception of childbirth itself has been distorted into a celebrity “survivor” contest, a childbirth media event? The weekly glossies hovered voyeuristically: “Is Katie Holmes a hostage of Scientology? Will she be able to pull off the required Silent Birth?” (Especially given that Tom Cruise and his church have already pooh-poohed the whole concept of postpartum depression as a bona fide mental health crisis.)

Then the stakes rose with the whole “Brangelina” birth event, in which a movie star went halfway around the world to have her baby in Africa, “away from the watchers” (a publicity stunt that actually caused an intensified media appetite for news, thereby increasing her leverage to get insane amounts of money for photos of the newborn).

Old-fashioned pragmatists (knowing that Hollywood babies born at Cedars Sinai Hospital are fully protected from medical ill winds as well as prying eyes) might wonder what greater good could possibly come from Brangelina gambling on having an uneventful labor and delivery by giving birth in a country with the highest infant mortality rate in the world?

Only cynics appreciate the irony of Angelina’s historic recklessness, since a technically at risk, older first-time mother choosing to give birth in darkest Africa (as it used to be called) promotes a fantasy that all you need for a safe delivery is a right-minded attitude — leaving aside the fact that her personal obstetrician from the U.S. was at her side the whole time, in one of the few clinics in Africa with a neonatal intensive care unit.

On the simplest level, the societal concept of “natural” childbirth for regular folks has devolved into meaning that a woman’s partner is with her in a so-called “birthing room” in the hospital, where she has pre-requested epidural anesthesia so she can feel nothing at all as soon as possible, embracing all the medical preinterventions that come with it, such as a fetal heart monitor, an I.V., and synthetic hormones to move along the labor that often stops when anesthesia is in the bloodstream. This current topsy-turvy pregnancy landscape is the only possible explanation for the existence of “Frankly Pregnant” by Stacy Quarty, with Miriam Greene, a book so obnoxious in tone and demeaning to women that if 12-year-old boys could get pregnant, this would be their book of choice. Given that “grossing each other out” is an essential pastime for pre-pubescent fellows, this book would be as satisfying for them as it is grotesque to a mature female.

Billed as the author’s personal journal of her pregnancy and a guide for others, it is little more than a self-absorbed graphic depiction of a series of humiliating intimate details of the supposed physical eruptions and emissions that apparently plagued her on a weekly basis (in years of research I never came across anything close to what she claims issued forth from her body).

The author actually cites one of my books as one of the “standards” she read without satisfaction about the nitty-gritty of pregnancy — which presumably spurred her to compile this tasteless journal to “share” her weekly experiences about the physically vile things that befell her.

The whole tone of the book is “fart in a space suit” humor, best suited to the campfire at a boys’ camp. Somebody must have given poor Ms. Quarty the mistaken idea that the theatrical telling of embarrassing malfunctions of her own body was wildly amusing and would be common to all pregnant women. Instead, the barrage of sickening personal details is an insult to other women’s intelligence and an affront to their sensibilities. There’s barely a page where the reader isn’t assaulted by some revolting imagery.

For example, the tone is set early on from the glossary of the author’s personal pregnancy symptoms: “Cauliflower butt: If you’ve got three or more hemorrhoids and they become irritated and inflamed, your anus may end up looking like a piece of purple cauliflower. Cheeseburger crotch: . . . my friend Grace and I fondly coined the term because that’s what it looked like she had stashed in her panties during pregnancy! Cocktail-wiener toes: retention of fluids in the lower extremities can leave you with toes that resemble overcooked cocktail wieners.”

Should you doubt how juvenile or irritating her writing can be, when the author wants to express frustration that she has found out she’s pregnant but can’t tell her husband immediately, she writes simply: “Arrrrggggghhhhhhhhh! I needed to tell someone! I was bursting.” This follows the equally mature and telling reaction just a few pages earlier when she writes about her reaction at age 7 when she asks her mother how the egg is fertilized by the sperm: “I learned that the man puts his penis inside the woman’s vagina to insert the sperm. Eeeeeeeeeeewwwwwww!”

This is a precise quote and a comment on Stacy Quarty the writer, rather than about the birds and bees. I think it gives compelling evidence that between 7 years old and whatever her current age may be, Ms. Quarty got arrested somewhere. Or perhaps should be — by the editorial police.

Other than being a potential source of delight for young boys who are drawn to being horrified at the revolting stuff our bodies are capable of, the only redeeming feature I can find in this sorry little book is that it may be the antidote to celebrity pregnancy and the myth of glamorous childbirth. “Labor” is called that for a reason, and is an intense and painful process that often leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth — not unlike reading this book, the difference being that with childbirth you come away with something precious of lasting value.

—Tracie Hotchner wrote the million-copy best-seller “Pregnancy & Childbirth” as well as “Childbirth & Marriage,” “Pregnancy Pure & Simple,” and “The Pregnancy Diary,” and has appeared on the “Today” show and “Oprah” as an expert in the field. Stacie Quarty lives in Southampton.


Blogger DD said...

Looks like Tracie is taking her knowledge and infinite wisdom and expanding it to the Dog Bible. How much you wanna bet she won't mention the gross parts of owning a dog: they lick their asses and eat shit - any shit - then lick their owner's faces?

Because, you know, that's really immature.

And Stacy, you wrote how girl-friends talk. Maybe she's jealous b/c she realizes she never had that close of friends to tell her pukey and gassy stories to. Ergo, the Dog Bible.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Wow. So exactly when did you sleep with her father and kill her dog?

I think that girl has it in for you. But if it makes you feel better it actually made me move your book further up my list of things I've gotta read by the end of the year.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Trish said...

She completely misses the mark and it seems she does so on purpose, just so she can take a dig at you.
She makes herself sound like a prude and someone I would rather not know. Yuck.
She'd love this: Poop and calliflower hemorroids on her, said the queefing queen :)

10:52 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

you crack me up! Hahahahahaahahahahahaha!

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Julie H. said...

Unbelievable! That woman just doesn't want to face reality- pregnancy just isn't glamorous, and she is jealous that you were brave enough to write the truth first, and in such a funny way!

I agree with Trish, poop and cauliflower hemorrhoids on her uppity head!!


2:49 PM  
Blogger Demeter said...

Ditto Julie and Tracy, when people have enough time to criticize it is because the don't have any better things to do. Puke to her!

4:36 PM  
Blogger mrsmogul said...

THat's pretty nasty! Hmm maybe she secretly got made you stole her towels at the tennis club? Seriously I know the mafia and we can send them out to the Hamptons AsAP if ya want (wink)

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first several paragraphs speak for themselves- she has a bone to pick and is using your book to pick it- someone who writes a review and goes on and on about celebrities as if that’s the point.

She just seems like another–I hate to say it-“Hamptons Bitch” and that’s the best I can say- someone who wants to see their own name in print. Your book is exactly what you wanted it to be- a humorous and enjoyable book on the quirkier side of pregnancy. It is cute and warm and full of fun and funny insights.

I am sorry that you had to read that. Please know there are those who enjoy your writing.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how Tracie Hotchner fails to disclose that a medical doctor colloborated with you on Frankly Pregnant. Said doctor being Miriam Greene. Is Tracie a doctor? What are her so-called "qualifications"? Besides being a seemingly jealous and nasty author and woman. I for one am glad she is not one of my friends (we both would never choose to be friends).

I actually went to my local book store to buy Frnakly Pregnant and it was sold out and had to be ordered. Maybe Tracie doesn't want any competition. Thankfully most women aren't like her. We actually praise our fellow sisters and are uplifted when they succeed. Best of life to you Stacie. Don't let Tracie get to you since she obviosly has lots of bile to share.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Her writing is what I find disgusting. Get a life Tracie! It sounds like she was the outcast growing up and was able to find her fame in being a knowledgeable pregnancy author. However, her world is now shattered since now even the perfect girls (that would be her competing author) have found even greater fame in her niche. Seriously, she is the one that sounds like an adolescent on the playground slinging bile at her rivals.

What is wrong with seeing pregnancy as something to be enjoyed – the fashion side, the beauty, and even the humor in the negative impacts it has on the body? The only people that would not want to see that beauty are those that are miserable in life. She obviously has never had any close girlfriends to share her life experiences with. For that reason, I feel sad for her.

12:19 AM  
Blogger thebridget said...

I think Tracie missed the boat on your book Stacey. She did not understand, perhaps appreciate is a better term, the perspective. How could she, she has never given birth.
Your book is meant to cover the things that "textbook style" pregnancy books do not. In order to fully appreciate the humor, one needs to have experienced pregnancy, or at the very least,be open to it.
Your book was a pleasure to read, funny, covering topics that are not typically discussed in "polite" conversation.
I have read Tracie's book on pregnancy also. It is well written and very informative. She did an excellent job.
You have also done an excellent job. It is a shame that not everyone can see things from more than one viewpoint.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Randi said...

This review is sooo obviously not about the book, but about her issues with you writing a book on “her” subject. Get a life lady!

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am appalled about that scathing review.....and how mean spirited it all was! How clear it seems that this woman is devoid of friends and real experiences ( has she even had children?) Books are always a taste issue and rarely so candid as to be so accurate and empathetic. I hope you shall discard her cavalier and evil comments meant intentionally to wound the beautiful author ( YOU!). Sounds like a bad case of jealously with a newcomer. Up yours lady! You may quote me!
-Leslie Seiden

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally read every book on pregnancy. Especially since I was expecting twin boys, one with a diagnosed birth defect in utero.

Ms. Hotchner's book was very thorough, medically accurate, technical and on the cold side. Ms. Quarty's book was a fun, light-hearted, humble (even though one can see she is attractive, etc.) and hilariously "gross". I find humor re: the gross things in life. This served me well during extended bed rest, a difficult pregnancy and now motherhood. Goodbye victorian days and hello to a modern mother's perspective.

-Susan Roese, a Florida Fan

4:17 PM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

I thought I responded to this, but I don't see my comment from last week!

I tend to agree with the, ahem, personal nature of the review. I'm going to buy the book now also (although I'd always planned to)!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Mary Tolentino said...

that has got to be the most bitc*y review I have ever heard... not everyone thinks like her so she should get that stick out of her a** and dshove it down her throat.. for me personally, I love that your book is hilarious and very very refreshing as sometimes, someone wants to hear it in a way we understand best "girlfriend talk" rather than the ever popular "clinic tak".. best of luck, I hope you continue this blog and I'll be scouting the shelves for any of your writings :)

2:57 AM  

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