I just finished Ruth Franklin's marvelous biography Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, which would make a great gift for writer-mamas.
Best known for her short story "The Lottery,"
Jackson wrote six novels--one of which was nominated for a
National Book Award and another made into a movie--five story
collections, four children's books, and two hugely popular comic
memoirs about her family. She managed all of that while raising
four children in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s with little support
from her husband--in fact, her writing income supported the family
for many years. (Her advice? Do less housework.)
engagingly weaves aspects of Jackson's personal life with
summaries of her work and its critical reception. I particularly
enjoyed the head-scratching from critics who didn't understand how
the same writer could publish funny stories about her kids and
literary fiction that explores the human capacity for evil.
Fascinating and inspiring, Franklin's book ought to reinvigorate
interest in Jackson's work; her titles are on my wish list! (I'm already obsessed with We Have Always Lived in the Castle... just look at that cover!)