ADDRESSES: Offıce—English Department, Duke University, P.O. Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708-0563. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, poet, and writing teacher. State of Virginia, Richmond, special assistant to the secretary of human resources, 1986-87; Upward Bound writing instructor, CT; National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-choice, NC, director, 1992-94; University of Texas, Austin, poetry instructor; Duke University, Durham, NC, creative writing instructor, 2002—. Has also worked as an English tutor, high school French teacher, and tour guide. Performer at Frontera Fest, Austin, TX.
AWARDS, HONORS: Bernice Slote Award, Prairie Schooner, for best work by an emerging writer, 1998.
Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life; or, How ILearned to Love the House, the Man, the Child, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including Salon.com, Prairie Schooner, Parenting, and Child.
SIDELIGHTS: Faulkner Fox has degrees from Yale, Harvard, and Vermont College. She is married to a man who shares in the housework and the childcare, but in her Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life; or, How I Learned to Love the House, the Man, the Child she reveals that motherhood is not exactly as she had pictured it.
Prior to marriage Fox had some interesting and challenging experiences working with the mentally ill, high school students in the Upward Bound program, and as director of the North Carolina branch of the National Abortion Rights Action League. With a small grant from Radcliffe College, she spent time in New Orleans studying voodoo and alternative spirituality. Fox's dissatisfaction began when she and her educator husband moved to Austin, Texas. Six months pregnant and with no friends, she feared that she would be thought of as just another faculty wife and stay-at-home mom. Fox soon found that embarking on her writing career was difficult with one, then two young children in the house. Although her book covers issues of motherhood, Judith Stadtman Tucker, writing on Mother's Movement Online, noted that Fox presents "a deliberate and thoughtful record of the growth and development of a woman. . . . a mother. . . . who refuses to allow her selfhood to wither like a neglected houseplant just because she's completely in love with her husband and children."
"I can't think of one [parenting] book as entertaining or refreshingly honest as Faulkner Fox's Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life," wrote Naomi Rand in the Boston Globe. Other critics applauded Fox's honesty, though they also felt that stay-at-home mothers could feel alienated by her tone. Julia Kamysz Lane noted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune that "because she is angry, Fox sabotages every encounter with fellow stay-at-home moms, judging and dismissing them practically before they even say hello." Lane felt that some readers may see Fox as "selfish, silly, or self-indulgent" for wanting the time, privacy, and quiet necessary to write. A Kirkus Reviews critic felt that Fox's "very honest account exudes relief at the chance to express her feelings and a measure of pride that she has faced some of motherhood's inherent conflicts, if not entirely resolved them." Fox admits that she kept count of how many diapers her husband had changed, in comparison to her own number, as well as how many of those were soiled. She did other task comparisons and assigned "Frequent Parenting Miles," but she says that her husband is good about pulling his share of the load, even though she feels his contributions don't match hers. The couple eventually sought counseling to deal with the stress of the situation.
A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that women who are attempting to be mothers and individuals will understand Fox's frustrations, but added that "readers who've decided to make mothering their full-time job could feel slighted by Fox's treatment; she feels they're at the 'bottom' of the 'totem pole of power.'" Overall, Booklist contributor Vanessa Bush wrote, "women of various political perspectives will appreciate this honest look at the rigors of motherhood."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fox, Faulkner, Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life; or, How I Learned to Love the House, the Man, the Child, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Booklist, December 1, 2003, Vanessa Bush, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life; or, How I Learned to Love the House, the Man, the Child, p. 631.
Boston Globe, May 16, 2004, Naomi Rand, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life.
Brain, Child, spring, 2004, Heather Hewett, "Great Expectations: Feminism, Momism, and What a Woman Wants," p. 68.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life, p. 1260.
Montclair Times (Montclair, NJ), February 5, 2004, Elizabeth S. Ludas, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life.
Publishers Weekly, November 10, 2003, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life, p. 50.
Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), January 18, 2004, Julia Kamysz Lane, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life, p. 7.
Washington Post Book World, May 9, 2004, Stephanie Wilkinson, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life, p. 6.
Duke Dialogue Online,http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/ (January 15, 2004), review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life.
Faulkner Fox Home Page,http://www.faulknerfox.com (August 11, 2004).
Mother's Movement Online,http://www.mothersmovement.org/ (December, 2003), Judith Stadtman Tucker, review of Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life.