One-Minute Book Reviews

August 19, 2008

‘Buying Dad’ — One Woman’s Hunt for the Perfect Sperm Donor

Filed under: Memoirs,Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:41 am
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[I am at the beach today and will return tomorrow if I don’t get stung to death by the influx of jellyfish we are having here in New Jersey. This is a repost of one of the first reviews that appeared on this site.]

Two lesbians look for the father of their child in a tank of liquid nitrogen

Buying Dad: One Woman’s Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor. By Harlyn Aizley. Alyson, 313 pp., $14.95, paperback.

By Janice Harayda

Harlyn Aizley rejoiced when she saw all the choices that sperm banks offered to people like her — “Jewish gay Gemini neurotics” in their late 30s. Leafing through books of donor profiles, she found that “buying sperm is much like shopping at Sam’s Club or Costco.” The trouble began when she and her partner downloaded the catalog of a California sperm bank, chose a donor they nicknamed Baldie, and had vials of his semen shipped to their home in Boston by Federal Express. After repeated failures to conceive, the couple learned that no woman had ever gotten pregnant with their donor’s sperm and that they had to start over.

It’s an understatement to say that Aizley’s instinct for wisecracking doesn’t allow her to look too closely at the moral or social implications of buying sperm like six-packs of Wild Cherry Coke. But if her breezy memoir lacks depth, it has the ring of hard-won authority and the consolation of a happy ending. Many couples, heterosexual or homosexual, may wish that they had read Buying Dad before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on the DNA of their offspring. “The donors you want are the ones who have gotten somebody pregnant,” Aizley says with unassailable logic. “It’s as simple as that.”

Best line: “To the argument that gay parents will create gay children, I have only this to say: Every homosexual I know, male or female, was raised by two heterosexuals.”

Worst line: “March is the suckiest of all months.” Be grateful that Aizley didn’t collaborate with T.S. Eliot on The Wasteland.

Recommended if … you’re straight or gay, married or single, and thinking of using a sperm bank.

Published: July 2003

FYI: Harlyn Aizley edited the recent Confessions of the Other Mother: Nonbiological Lesbian Moms Tell All (Beacon, 2006), a collection of personal stories by lesbian mothers.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

June 15, 2007

‘Buying Dad: One Woman’s Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor’ Picks Up Where David Brooks’s Column in Today’s Times Left Off

David Brooks has an interesting op-ed column in today’s New York Times about the hazards of buying your offspring’s genetic material from a sperm bank. “What if parents are perpetually buying genes on the downward slope?” he wonders. “After all, for maximum success, you don’t want President Kennedy’s genes. You want Joseph Kennedy’s genes. You don’t want Bill Clinton’s genes. You want his father’s genes. What if we get the national equivalent of the 38th generation of the House of Windsor?

Harlyn Aizley explores related issues in her breezy memoir, Buying Dad: One Woman’s Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor (Alyson, $14.95, paperback), reviewed on this site on Oct. 19, 2006 Aizley and her lesbian partner found that “buying sperm is much like shopping at Sam’s Club or Costco.” But actually getting pregnant with those store-bought sperm proved much harder. Aizley’s wisecracking tone won’t appeal to everyone, but her step-by-step account of her experiences could be enlightening to both gay and straight parents who are considering this method of conception.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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