Review of Antonella Gambotto-Burke's "Apple: Sex, Drugs, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine
Gambotto-Burke’s third literary offering on birth and motherhood, "Apple" is a harrowing, sickening but vital read. In the intro, the Italian-Australian singer-songwriter and journalist has some instructions for how to use the book. As a person preoccupied by birth and feminist issues I am directed to skip the first section on recreational drug use and the so-called Psychedelic Revolution and instead begin with the middle section on maternity and read to the end, taking in the final section on sexuality and addiction as attempts to reenact the trauma of a drugged birth and poor (or non-existengt) parental attachment before circling back to meet Timothy Leary and friends. This immediate acknowledgment of the difficulty of the book and the author’s straight-forward guidance warmed me to Gambotto-Burke and made me feel I was in good hands. Designed as a “literary triptych” the middle section entitled “Born to the Undead” causally links psychopathy and the acts of the renowned serial killers Dahmer, Bundy and Brady with the barbaric, harmful and widespread practices of Twilight Sleep. Using the artwork of Robert Mapplethorpe and various pop culture references (Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey, Castaway with Tom Hanks & the plays of Henrik Ibsen to name but a few) Gambotto-Burke explores the growth of deviant sexual activity & the alarming rates of substance misuse with babies born to mothers stupefied by strong pharmaceutical drugs and the impact this had on infants and the crucial newborn bonding period.
She documents the negative power, control and influence that Big Pharma has on the long-term health of humanity. Anger-inducing, sad and frightening it may be but knowing the enemy we are fighting is the first step to victory. A must-read for feminists, birth and social workers wanting to better understand the origins of the human condition.