Female. Education: Brandeis University; Harvard University, M.A. (education).
Buying Dad: One Woman's Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2003.
Contributor of fiction and poetry to numerous magazines and journals, including Berkeley Fiction Review, Caffeine, Cups, Dialogue, Inside, Sierra Nevada College Review, and South Carolina Review and the anthologies Beginnings, Love Shook my Heart, and Scream When You Burn. Contributor of nonfiction articles to Boston Magazine, and the anthologies The Best American Neurotica, and Mondo Barbie Redux.
In her first book, Buying Dad: One Woman's Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor, writer Harlyn Aizley chronicles the story of her decision to begin a family with her partner, Faith. After weighing their options, they decide that Aizley, who at near forty is the older of the two, should try to conceive their first child through artificial insemination using donor sperm. In this memoir, Aizley details with humor the specifics of the process, including their choice to use an unknown donor rather than a friend, their struggles with the decisions involved in the selection process, such as the donor's race (Aizley and her partner are both Jewish), height, and a multitude of other characteristics, the insemination process itself, and Aizley's subsequent pregnancy. While attempting to conceive, Aizley also learns that her mother has cancer. This leads her to explore her feelings about parenthood more broadly, and she examines both her thoughts about becoming a mother and about losing one.
Margaret Cardwell in Library Journal noted that there are not many books dealing with the topic of lesbians who choose to become parents through artificial insemination, and she found Aizley's book to be a "thoroughly captivating read about the foibles of a twenty-first-century family." She also praised the humor with which Aizley tackles a number of complex and emotional topics, and observed that "rather than presenting a dry, tedious, and depressing narrative, she leaves the reader laughing out loud." Julia Query, in "Women's Review of Books" also praised Aizley's humorous approach and openness, and noted that while Aizley "presents herself as a stereotypical Jewish, neurotic, mildly self-hating lesbian…she doesn't stay two dimensional for long." She commented that Aizley "is that wondrous type of humor writer who dares to be vulnerable and open without losing her timing." Query felt that while the book holds appeal for those who, like Aizley, have been through the process of trying to conceive using donor sperm, it is also a "fun introduction to the topic" for those with little knowledge of the subject. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly also commented on the book's widespread appeal, noting that once the process of trying to conceive begins, "Aizley's tale reads like any woman's: failed insemination procedures, fears of fertility treatments and huge doses of self-doubt." Whitney Scott, writing for Booklist concluded that "perhaps anyone who has contemplated a baby will smile, chuckle, even laugh out loud at Aizley's story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2003, Whitney Scott, review of Buying Dad: One Woman's Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor, p. 1715.
Curve, August, 2003, Rachel Pepper, review of Buying Dad, p. 44.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Buying Dad, p. 723.
Library Journal, June 1, 2003, Margaret Cardwell, review of Buying Dad, p. 146.
Publishers Weekly, April 21, 2003, review of Buying Dad, pp. 45-46.
Women's Review of Books, December, 2003, Julia Query, "Creating 'gay-bies,'" pp. 17-19.
Harlyn Aizley Home Page,http://www.buyingdad.com (March 6, 2004).*