The Sperm Donor’s Daughter

6

by Kathryn Trueblood
The Permanent Press
April 1998, 168 pages
ISBN 10: 1-57962-006-X, Cloth $22

Amazon buy button

 

This novel explores the impact of artificial insemination on human identity and looks at the potential repercussions for both mother and child. The story is told from the perspectives of a mother with many secrets and a strong desire to restructure the past, and a daughter who is the result of artificial insemination and has only recently discovered it. She is just beginning to discover her identity in relation to the men around her and is furious when she uncovers her true origins. After locating her father’s picture in a medical school yearbook, she sets off to find him, fueled by a strong desire to get to know him… and simultaneously hurt her mother.

“The language in Kathryn Trueblood’s new collection of stories, The Sperm Donor’s Daughter, blooms with the allure and heady fragrance of jungle flora—exotic saps waiting to be tapped; potent cures lurking, as yet undiscovered. Even her characters—common place citizens at first glance—harbor a drop of wild blood that curdles and froths against the threat of too much domesticity. In an uncertain and infinitely complex world, Trueblood’s stories demand that we sit up, pay attention, and care.”

Excerpts

Excerpts from The Sperm Donor’s Daughter

“In those days, women were inseminated with fresh sperm so the procedure had to have taken place within two hours of ejaculation. All we had to do was find the closest medical school and call up the alumni association for the year books.”

“Like Monique’s father, my father would have shelled out ten or twenty grand to give me a wedding, but the college money was reserved for the boys, who could bring the improvement in themselves home. Girls were the ones who really left home, pitted by rice and baby pearls.”

“On the bus ride out here, I thought about how it’s possible to set out on a journey in America not to discover oneself and succeed. From on-ramp to off-ramp, from Burger King to Burger King, Motel Six to Super Eight, Arby’s, Bob’s, Wendy’s, Denny’s, every place the same place. Why not be a chain-outlet person? Go home with the first person to mistake me for somebody they know.”

“Nigel once asked me if my mother and I were close. We are and we aren’t. Every statement I make about her has to be like that.”

“One morning as she was putting away my laundry, my mother found the crumpled tube of Ortho-Gynol nesting in my underwear. I watched from the bed. She picked it up between her fingers the way you would a dead moth, by its wings.”

“Gust of wind travel up the cliff and fold over the headland, mixing the stench of the cormorant rookeries with the sweetness of new grass. Acid and salt, that which has passed into the gullet alive and died on the way down, the smell is sharp and merciless as first desire.”

“My daughter thinks I am incapable of loving a man when the truth is I love ceaselessly. I am like one of those ghosts that haunt highways because I don’t know I’ve died and no one can tell me.”

“This is a story that doesn’t tell. It rewinds and it plays, but it doesn’t tell.”

“What did I want my father to be anyway? It was like hearing Mr. Roger’s sing ‘You’re Special to Me’ and fantasizing that he was only broadcast to my house.”

Reviews

The Seattle Times Post-Intelligencer

“Sag Harbor’s Permanent Press has an obstinate belief in literary fiction’s burgeoning talents.  Its latest discovery is Kathryn Trueblood, whose novella is a psychologically nuanced meditation on identity and makeshift bonds.
New York Magazine

“This is the kind of cross-wired writing that leads to somewhere new. The standout is the 100-page title piece (which) erupts with wisdom about who is responsible for what in a pregnancy.”
Kirkus Reviews