Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes: Essays on Motherhood by Adrienne Gruber

Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes: Essays on Motherhood by Adrienne Gruber

Essais Series No. 16
Publication Date: May 1, 2024
Nonfiction / Essays
5.25 x 8 inches
146 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781771669030

Trade Paperback
(In stock)
(In stock)

Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes is a revelatory hybrid collection that subverts the stereotypes and transcends the platitudes of family life to examine motherhood with blistering insight.

Documenting the birth and early life of her three daughters, Adrienne Gruber shares what it really means to use one’s body to bring another life into the world and the lasting ramifications of that act on both parent and child. Each piece peers into the seemingly mundane to show us the mortal and emotional consequences of maternal bonds, placing experiences of “being a mom” within broader contexts—historical, literary, biological, and psychological—to speak to the ugly realities of parenthood often omitted from mainstream conversations.

Ultimately, these deeply moving, graceful essays force us to consider how close we are to death, even in the most average of moments, and how beauty is a necessary celebration amidst the chaos of being alive.

Praise for Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes

“In this stunning and deeply personal collection of essays, Adrienne Gruber explores modern motherhood in all its beautiful, terrifying, confusing, grotesque, joyful, sometimes mundane, sometimes ridiculous glory, in a way that is both intimate and yet wholly universal. With a poet’s ear for language—unsentimental, startling, sharp as a razor—and a memoirist’s knack for finding meaning in the chaotic churn of everyday life, Gruber cracks open her own heart to show you the truth in your own. Honest, tender, and firmly rooted in the body and its connection to the natural world, Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes is a deep, anguished howl in the dark, a love letter to a complex family, and a careful catalogue of the things we pass on, and the things we must carry on our own.” —Amy Jones, author of Pebble & Dove

“The essays in this book, like Gruber’s articulation of the chimera, reveal a matrilineal narrative of split flesh, eyeballs, sour milk, creepy puppets, blood, illnesses, and grief that leave the nerves exposed. Gruber writes with the precision of a scalpel, revealing with great dexterity, care, and fierceness a beast that lives across lives and stories.” —Elizabeth Ross, author of After Birth

Press Coverage

Most Anticipated: Our 2024 Nonfiction Spring Preview —49th Shelf

26 Works of Canadian Nonfiction Coming Out in Spring 2024 —CBC Books

Podcast interview with Adrienne Gruber —Episode 9, Bookspo, with host Kerry Clare

On the sometimes steep difficulties of parenthood. An excerpt from Adrienne Gruber’s Monsters, Martyrs, and MarionettesThe Tyee

Writer’s Block: An Interview with Adrienne Gruber —All Lit Up


About the Author

ADRIENNE GRUBER is an award-winning writer originally from Saskatoon. She is the author of five chapbooks, three books of poetry, including Q & A, Buoyancy Control, and This is the Nightmare, and the creative nonfiction collection, Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes: Essays on Motherhood. She won the 2015 Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron poetry contest, SubTerrain’s 2017 Lush Triumphant poetry contest, placed third in Event’s 2020 creative non-fiction contest, and was the runner up in SubTerrain’s 2023 creative non-fiction contest. Both her poetry and non-fiction has been longlisted for the CBC Literary Awards. In 2012, Mimic was awarded the bp Nichol Chapbook Award. Adrienne lives with her partner and their three daughters on Nex̱wlélex̱m (Bowen Island), B.C., the traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples.