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Julie Phillips, author of The Baby on the Fire Escape

Julie Phillips copywright Chris Van HoutsJoin us May 12 at 6:30pm with award-winning author and Mercer Island native Julie Phillips discussing and signing her newest book,  The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem.  

"Baby on the Fire Escape jacketPhillips explores the conflicting demands of being a mother and creating art in this astute look at how trailblazing artists stayed true to their craft. When people imagine artists, Phillips suggests, they picture "solitary concentration." To counter this, the author asks, "What does it mean to create, not... in 'a room of one's own, ' but in a shared space?" She examines a wealth of artists' lives and work: American painter Alice Neel, for example, lost two daughters and was coerced into relinquishing her third to disapproving relatives and escaped to Greenwich Village, where she raised her subsequent children with other "orphans of the avante-garde" and created art that was startling in its frank portrayal of maternal unease. South African novelist Doris Lessing is infamous for leaving her children, but Phillips digs through correspondence to reveal a more nuanced account of a woman who lost the legal rights to her children after divorce. Audre Lorde's "open marriage to a gay man," meanwhile, "was a practical way to raise children as a lesbian." Phillips's sharp observations and candor add force to the survey: "Thinking about mothers awakened my desire for safety and conventionality, and some things mothers did made me uncomfortable." The result is a memorable examination of game-changing artists." - Publisher's Weekly

Julie Phillips is the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. A biographer and critic fascinated by questions of gender and creative work, she has written for many publications including 4Columns, LitHub, and The New Yorker. The recipient of a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant, she lives in Amsterdam with her partner and their two children.

We ask that all attendees be fully vaccinated or wear a mask.

Event date: 
Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
3014 78th Ave SE
Mercer Island, WA 98040
The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393088595
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 26th, 2022

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312426941
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
This hard to find book or item is not eligible for returns.
Published: Picador - June 12th, 2007