Book cover of The Zygote Chronicles

The Zygote Chronicles

by Suzanne Finnamore

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Pages: 144
Paperback
ISBN: 9780802139818






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Overview of The Zygote Chronicles

When she finds out she's pregnant with her first child, the narrator of The Zygote Chronicles is closer to forty years old than to twenty-two (the latter, she is informed by a homicidal-rampage-inducing pregnancy guide, being the ideal age to have a baby). What unfolds from her very first wry yet heartfelt memo to her unborn child is like a series of X rays into a pregnant woman's soul, mind, and appetites. Suddenly she is attuned to everything around and inside her and she doles out observations and words of wisdom to her unborn baby accordingly: how a pregnant woman's body becomes public property; the way everyone on the street fancies themselves part of the jury when it comes to choosing a name. She captures the many sensory changes her body goes through with uncanny precision and crackling wit, and ponders why her once storybook marriage to the man she waited for all her life suddenly undergoes an alchemical transformation every time he eats garlic or onions.

Synopsis of The Zygote Chronicles

Suzanne Finnamore's universally applauded Otherwise Engaged followed one woman's whirlwind ride from diamond ring to altar. The Zygote Chronicles is her singular take on the next leg of the journey -- a riotous and poignant novel in journal form that takes us from conception to delivery room. Through the voice of a whip-smart, sass-talking everywoman Zygote reveals the unsettling and uproarious truth about pregnancy and the prospect of motherhood. The Zygote Chronicles will resonate for any woman who has even briefly considered motherhood. The strange purgatory of pregnancy has been a fact of life since Eve ate the apple, but never has it been recounted in such brilliant, hilarious detail.

Publishers Weekly

As she proved in her first novel, Otherwise Engaged, Finnamore knows how to tickle the funny bone. In her second book, the womb is the anatomical part that's the focus of her attention. With witty insights, a mother-to-be narrates the journey of her first pregnancy in the form of journal entries to her baby-to-be. At 38, the narrator is borderline terrified about having a baby later than most, and she expresses her insecurities about and observations on the process with comic abandon. She also questions whether the advertising career where she's achieved the heady titles of v-p and creative director, will disappear the moment she gives birth. And as a parent, can she do better than her frequently unemployed, usually drunk dad? Under physical and psychological stress, she sometimes flares up at her 49-year-old husband, who remains loving and steadfast throughout, although he is a bit of a dreamy ghost figure until the big day. Another anchor is her best friend, Diana, who is expecting her second child at the same time. They cheerlead each other on through the many phases of pregnancy including that of "beached whale." For all her neurotic complaints, there is a sincere sweetness to the heroine's complaints. The plot, while straightforward, is nuanced by the narrator's sad thoughts of a long-ago abortion and her complicated, touching memories of her family. Alert readers will note that the character's newborn bears the same initial as the dedication, "To P," surely the author's child, and perhaps the reason that this witty and poignant chronicle rings true. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. 4-city author tour. (Feb. 2) FYI: Michael J. Fox has bought the TV rights to Otherwise Engaged, for which Finnamore is writing the pilot. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Reviews of The Zygote Chronicles

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Editorials

Publishers Weekly

As she proved in her first novel, Otherwise Engaged, Finnamore knows how to tickle the funny bone. In her second book, the womb is the anatomical part that's the focus of her attention. With witty insights, a mother-to-be narrates the journey of her first pregnancy in the form of journal entries to her baby-to-be. At 38, the narrator is borderline terrified about having a baby later than most, and she expresses her insecurities about and observations on the process with comic abandon. She also questions whether the advertising career where she's achieved the heady titles of v-p and creative director, will disappear the moment she gives birth. And as a parent, can she do better than her frequently unemployed, usually drunk dad? Under physical and psychological stress, she sometimes flares up at her 49-year-old husband, who remains loving and steadfast throughout, although he is a bit of a dreamy ghost figure until the big day. Another anchor is her best friend, Diana, who is expecting her second child at the same time. They cheerlead each other on through the many phases of pregnancy including that of "beached whale." For all her neurotic complaints, there is a sincere sweetness to the heroine's complaints. The plot, while straightforward, is nuanced by the narrator's sad thoughts of a long-ago abortion and her complicated, touching memories of her family. Alert readers will note that the character's newborn bears the same initial as the dedication, "To P," surely the author's child, and perhaps the reason that this witty and poignant chronicle rings true. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. 4-city author tour. (Feb. 2) FYI: Michael J. Fox has bought the TV rights to Otherwise Engaged, for which Finnamore is writing the pilot. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Library Journal

A follow-up to Finnamore's well-received Otherwise Engaged, this autobiographical second novel appears in journal form and seems to be written straight from the author to her unborn child. It begins with an unnamed narrator trying to conceive and ends in the hospital's birthing room. Finnamore was 38 when she carried her child, so her musings about age and pregnancy are right on target. Her best friend, Diana, is pregnant at the same time, and they are able to share the journey together. Morning sickness, prenatal testing, determining the baby's gender, feeling the baby move, baby paraphernalia, and the long-awaited labor itself all the major stops on the highway of baby-making are covered. Finnamore's musings about her husband are particularly funny. Anyone who has been pregnant or is considering joining the parent club will enjoy this little book. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/01.] Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

New York Times Book Review

Frequently hilarious and dead on.... tough, lyrical revelations.... both very funny and surprisingly touching.

People Magazine

This mom delivers. (Chronicles) is an insightful journey.... Finnamore offers a field guide to the topsy-turvy nine months of pregnancy.

Kirkus Reviews

Finnamore, whose Otherwise Engaged (1999) detailed a wedding engagement from proposal to ceremony, uses the same formula with pregnancy. The effect is like a long evening spent watching slides of someone else's trip to Niagara Falls. The Zygote Chronicles reads less like a novel in journal form than like a journal that's been novelized, particularly since the authorial acknowledgments make it clear that no names have been changed to protect the innocent-or guilty. The narrator, last name Finnamore, begins with inception, which occurs after a romantic dinner, although the teller glosses over the sexy part. Then begins the countdown. At six weeks, things are still romantic with the father-to-be-presumably a case of love at first sight-who assures the narrator that every month she's pregnant she'll grow only more beautiful. By eight weeks, nausea has set in. With a jokiness that would seem tired on most TV sitcoms, Finnamore tells us which foods she can no longer stomach and how sensitized her olfactory senses have grown. She slides in some liberal guilt about the rosy future her child is likely to have in contrast to the lives of the have-nots in her old neighborhood, and she offers the unborn child moral pieties about sexism and homophobia. In the least cloying sections, she ponders her own less-than-ideal family and her husband's more romantic roots. Mostly, she offers up an assortment of petty complaints and small moments of joy (hearing the heartbeat, feeling the movement, seeing the sonogram) that come across as generic and far less interesting than most women will remember from their own experience. Still, one does have to admire the narrator's honesty about her weight when she tipsthe scales above 180. The only true moment of excitement occurs when the narrator has an emergency C-section. Mother and baby do fine and return home, no doubt ready to start a follow-up on baby's first year. Naval gazing of the most self-indulgent sort. First printing of 35,000; first serial to USA Today

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