Read Know the Mother by Desiree Cooper Online


While a mother can be defined as a creator, a nurturer, a protector-at the center of each mother is an individual who is attempting to manage her own fears, desires, and responsibilities in different and sometimes unexpected ways. In "Know the Mother," author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditativeWhile a mother can be defined as a creator, a nurturer, a protector-at the center of each mother is an individual who is attempting to manage her own fears, desires, and responsibilities in different and sometimes unexpected ways. In "Know the Mother," author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditative stories, women-both black and white-find themselves wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and wives.In this heart-wrenching collection, Cooper reveals that gender and race are often unanticipated interlopers in family life. An anxious mother reflects on her prenatal fantasies of suicide while waiting for her daughter to come home late one night. A lawyer miscarries during a conference call and must proceed as though nothing has happened. On a rare night out with her husband, a new mother tries convincing herself that everything is still the same. A politician's wife's thoughts turn to slavery as she contemplates her own escape: "Even Harriet Tubman had realized that freedom wasn't worth the price of abandoning her family, so she'd come back home. She'd risked it all for love." With her lyrical and carefully crafted prose, Cooper's stories provide truths without sermon and invite empathy without sentimentality."Know the Mother" explores the intersection of race and gender in vignettes that pull you in and then are gone in an instant. Readers of short fiction will appreciate this deeply felt collection....

Title : Know the Mother
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780814341490
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 112 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Know the Mother Reviews

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-04-28 14:36

    In a mixture of historical and contemporary settings, these 31 flash-fiction stories explore ambivalence about motherhood, and the ongoing racism in America. The opening story, “Witching Hour,” universalizes insomnia and worry through the first-person plural. The excellent “To the Bone” recalls Toni Morrison with its three generations of black women and references to down-home cooking. The slightly longer stories, buoyed by deeper characterization and multiple scenes, are often more successful than the snapshot ones, but her sharp insight makes Cooper an author to watch.See my full review at Foreword.

  • Mistinguette Smith
    2019-05-06 16:22

    I just finished reading “Know The Mother” yesterday. I am set back on my heels by the sheer beauty and strength of this collection of flash fiction about the interior of mothering, daughtering, being mothered or motherless. Cooper’s poetic stories made me weep. They uncovered places I did not know that I needed healing. Her characters are like sand in my shoes -- both a little uncomfortable and evoking pleasure and warmth. Cooper is a deft writer: she uses sensual language without sentimentality, and risks "writing the other" in ways that rang deeply true. This collection is unexpectedly muscular and surgical and graceful. You will want to read these stories, teach them as literature, give them as gifts, keep them close to your heart..

  • Andre
    2019-05-22 15:44

    Know The Mother is a collection of ultrashort stories surrounding motherhood. Some of the entries in this well written collection are so short, I'm not sure we can even call them stories. Maybe meditations, observations, reflections on motherhood. That is not to say that brevity automatically renders these tales ineffective, but the shorter the story, the greater the chance they will lack the necessary impact to be dynamic. It is hard to develop a character in 2-3 pages.Thanks to the prose, which is somewhat poetic there are some lofty points in this group of fiction. Stories like Reporting For Duty, 1959, which finds an Air Force Sargent in search of a hotel room after driving from San Antonio, TX to Tampa, FL. Touching. And there is a story, Night Coming that highlights an expectant mother and a reluctant father. Very vivid.I'm sure readers, especially mothers will find some or many of these stories resonant. It is an interesting look at the travails of motherhood and mothering. 3.5 stars

  • Mary Beth
    2019-05-16 22:26

    These flash fiction short stories can be read in a flash. But don’t. Take them slowly and let the characters stay with you awhile.My favorite story: Requiem for a Dress.Thanks to Desiree Cooper for coming to our book group to talk about gender, race, writing and waking up at 3 a.m.

  • Morgan
    2019-05-16 15:36

    A small book filled with delicious short stories exploring the complexities of mothers.

  • Ruth
    2019-05-23 19:41

    At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I wish I could buy this book for every reader I know. It's exquisite and powerful, each short short and flash story portraying a distinct and complex life and world. I made the mistake of thinking I could read it quickly, often finding myself in tears from its beauty, having to take breaks. Flash fiction may be short, but I've learned that when it's done right, the content is ever more potent. Cooper is a master of this form. Her language is filled with sensual hues, economy and strength. As a writer, I have so much to learn from the way she portrays each character through scene and action. I will be turning to this as a writing resource for years to come.

  • Brandon Will
    2019-05-13 21:50

    Cooper's skillful at precisely and profoundly showing the living histories that make up the ice-burg below the tips of the small moments her characters are experiencing. A grandmother going through airport security, a mother giving into a spa day gifted from her grown children, a young family being refused proper hotel service, a young girl who feels invisible and her mother who did at the daughter's age, a young teacher telling a joke to her class and the unexpected deep connection with a student that results from that--sometimes the moments themselves are profound, sometimes it's the winding history a banal moment brings out in a character.Cooper's a master.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-19 22:46

    Emotional RollercosterThis book took me on an emotional rollercoaster through womanhood and motherhood. I enjoyed that each snippet was short but filled with so much joy, pain, love, and care. This book isn't one of my typical reads, but I'm glad that I picked it up. It's a great read for all and easily enjoyable. Warning you may find yourself with watery eyes, that was my experience especially when I read Requiem for a Dress.

  • Fareeda
    2019-05-04 17:33

    Over 30 vignettes, and each of them left me feeling some type of emotion. This collection of stories tackles racism and sexism, through the eyes of a woman, as well as the emotions women and mothers experience as they mother their children, parents, husbands and lovers. Great read!

  • Desiree Depinet
    2019-05-09 22:30

    I didn’t realize how short these short stories would be when I picked up this book. I think there were many stories that had great potential in this book but they never really took me anywhere. The reviews were really good on this book and I was sadly disappointed in what I found.

  • Rachel
    2019-05-20 15:37

    Some of these stories made me weep. Some of the stories were utterly forgettable. I enjoyed reading this book, and typically try to have a book of short stories going to read when I need a break from other books. Stories here are very short and there are some I will go back to.

  • Shakarean
    2019-05-18 15:51

    really quick, really great flash fictions surrounding the many ideas of the mother. i'm in love with this book.

  • Marie
    2019-04-26 14:35

    Strange, minuscule stories that hop into new characters, times, and places as if changing costumes between scenes at a play.

  • Emily Purcell
    2019-05-10 14:30

    A sometimes frightening collection of short stories revolving around intersections of motherhood, daughterhood, womenhood and race. Short and engaging.

  • Allison
    2019-05-11 14:44

    Wow.Fantastic book of short stories. Highly recommend for all mothers.

  • yunique
    2019-04-28 14:42

    Awesome. Awesome read!

  • Hannah
    2019-05-14 21:50

    Know the Mother was assigned to me at the beginning of the semester by my creative writing professor, who thought its style would spark ideas for my own collection of flash fiction. Though it’s a quick read, Cooper’s work helped me immensely; it’s insightful, meaningful, and touching through its depiction of maternal relationships. I was captivated by Cooper’s ability to describe entire scenes and flashbacks in so few pages — only a few of the 31 stories exceeded 1,000 words, with many staying below 500. After writing my own collection, I now understand how difficult it is to make flash fiction concise yet complete, and I admire how eloquently Cooper is able to do so.To give some context, my own collection explores relationships between females and their societal expectations, so it was beneficial to study how Cooper was able to weave her extended theme through the collection without making the stories too similar. Each piece depicts a maternal relationship of some sort, whether it’s negative, positive, characterized in a flashback, or from the point of view of a current mother or child. Though Cooper’s central theme of motherhood is stagnant in each piece, it is approached from several different angles; not every story is simply told from the perspective of a mother.A first-grade teacher tells a joke to her class and receives a response that triggers a childhood memory of her mother’s abusive partner. A mother with breast cancer is reduced to an infant-like state of helplessness, forcing her husband to bear the weight of her and their children. After a father is found to be sterile, his wife’s desire for a large family drives her to use their only son as a way to draw other children into her life. This variance in tone, setting, and the mother’s role in each piece not only makes the stories unpredictable, but also allows them to stand alone from one another.To counter those who disliked this collection because it doesn’t allow for enough character development, I think that Cooper does an excellent job of creating her characters. Though we don’t get to see everything about a character’s past and present, they are all fully developed in the context of the piece. They’re simply pawns that fit into her overall theme, which is why I don’t mind only knowing a single side of them.I give Know the Mother five stars not only because it’s an outstanding work of poetry-prose, but also because it gave me immense assistance in my own writing. Thank you for the inspiration, Desiree Cooper, I will surely be reading more of your work!

  • Pamela Laskin
    2019-05-12 15:40

    Just finished the very wonderful, KNOW THE MOTHER by Desiree Cooper. I just heard Desiree read at a Brooklyn literary salon, and her warmth, generosity, humanity, decency and integrity just emanates from this beautifully written book. There are very few books I can say are so beautifully written, but this collection of very short stories has diction which will blow you way over the moon. She understands the demands of being a wife, a mother, a daughter to sick and elderly parents, concerns which are my own, now and forever. For example, "Leftovers" begins, "The sun warms the windowpanes as I linger on the edge of a dream. Downstairs, I can hear Cassie squealing like a piglet and Brandon is not using his inside voice. I should go an see where David is. He is probably inside on the phone with his office." The reality? The mom's significant role, even when she is NOT in the house, not tending to the children. It felt like every other piece in his beautiful book, the concerns were so authentic. Cooper's credentials, too, are impressive: a Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist and Detroit journalist, who was once an attorney. She lives in Detroit, and it goes without saying she is very preoccupied with issues of racism in the place she lives in, so place becomes very important in this book.I feel blessed that I could read it and share in this author's strong and lyrical voice. A must read!

  • Marie Wyar simerly
    2019-05-13 16:33

    I was not emotionally prepared for this collection of short stories, nor did I anticipate the anger and frustration that would build as I made my way through the book. Each story had a different tone and setting, although the theme was consistent - race and gender separate the mother from her surroundings and fellow human beings. I had to keep my emotions in check, from explosive anger to indignation to shame. On the plus side, the stories are beautifully written - the prose flows like poetry in some and provides a respite for the emotional reader. Overall I'm so thankful that a friend recommended this book, and I can't wait to discuss it with our small group. I would love to make this required reading for all of my friends, regardless of cultural influences. While there is so much love in the world today, this book made it clear that the gender and racial biases that once dominated our society have not disappeared as we would like to believe.

  • Neena
    2019-05-19 14:48

    This is not a book to read in one sitting -- this is a book to be cherished for a life time. The stories in travel through a woman's life. This is our book -- our rendition of "The Red Tent." These are our stories, a journey of what it is to be a daughter, mother, student, wife, professional. Each story needs to read, then read again, absorbed into our being, then picked- up again to be read. Each story will have a different meaning each time it is read in different phases of our lives. Even the nuance changes if one day you read it in the morning and the next day your read it in the evening, because by then you've had a chance to imprint your footsteps on the words. A mother worriesA child worriesA woman worriesOur stories.

  • Linda Sienkiewicz
    2019-05-21 18:29

    This is a collection of flash fiction pieces - the longest story is 12 pages, the shortest is one - but each story packs a wallop. Desiree is a skilled writer who's adept at making excellent use of what is left unsaid, allowing her readers to complete the vignette. Each story is like a magic box, holding twists, sharp emotions, longings and uncertainties, fishhooks, briefcases, burros, blood, mothers, fathers, sisters and daughters. KNOW THE MOTHER is a book I keep on my nightstand when I want a little something before I sleep, something that lets me know I'm not alone. I also love the fact that I can pick up the book, open it to any page, and start and finish a story.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-18 15:26

    This is a beautiful book of short stories. I love the humanity portrayed and the everyday interactions that make up relationships. Though the details involve the ordinary of relationships, this book and its themes are far from ordinary. The important questions of life are wrapped up in the careful details of this lovely book. I am reminded why reading fiction is so important to me and to our culture. I love Desiree Cooper's prose and voice.

  • Juana
    2019-05-20 21:36

    This slender book of more than thirty short short stories is one of the most memorable and giftable things I've read in recent years. Her style is a kind of poetic prose that rings like a bell. I'll be getting a few more copies as gifts for female friends - I can't imagine a better Mother's Day gift.

  • Sean Kottke
    2019-05-10 20:28

    This is a superb collection of flash fiction and slightly longer short stories that comprise a kaleidoscope of vignettes of motherhood across centuries of African American women's experiences around and outside of Detroit, and across class lines. It would make a stirring paired read with Bonnie Jo Campbell's Mothers, Tell Your Daughters.

  • AndPeggy
    2019-04-28 18:48

    A moving collection of flash fiction centered around relationships involving mothers, whether it is mothers to husbands, mothers to themselves, or mothers to their children, each story delivers a well-rounded character or characters in the space of a few pages.

  • Dona
    2019-05-20 19:34

    Great Reading for a Rainy DayWonderfully written vignettes. Reading this collection was like sneaking a peak into the souls of other women, mothers, daughters and finding a glimpse of yourself.

  • Shenelle Gaston
    2019-04-28 20:49

    The stories have such a huge range, from extremely suspenseful, to warm and loving, I was amazed by the impact Desiree Cooper was able to deliver in such few pages.

  • Kathryn Kochunas
    2019-04-28 14:25

    This collection of stories feels like a string of deep dives in the time it takes to dip a toe in a puddle.

  • Davonne
    2019-05-23 16:21


  • Julie Topping
    2019-05-03 21:38

    Every woman will read this book and recognize something about themselves. Everyone who knows a woman will be grateful for how much they learn about her in this book. Excellent read.