“It takes so long to see you are a slave,” muses one character in these lyrical, sometimes bitingly funny chronicles of women breaking out of imposed roles. Jack Kerouac Is Pregnant chronicles the dreams of misplaced waitresses, prostitutes and other working girls, the survival techniques of secretaries too smart to take orders. Using narrative elements poetically, Sheehan subverts the notion of linear storytelling, creating kaleidoscopic stories by layering and contrasting various elements.
In the title story, a woman yearns to be like Jack Kerouac but is held back by a litany of rules teaching her to be a submissive girl, “a pansy.” Bored to distraction by her receptionist job and half under the influence of a Catholic upbringing, the main character in “Look at the Moon” hooks up with a flamboyant stranger and winds up on a life-altering road trip. In “The Dove,” a wealthy widow pressured by her family to marry a rich man spends her life fixated on an affair she had a week before her wedding.
In each of these stories, women young and old, rich and poor, struggle for their very souls as they face the sacrifices they must make in order to conform to societal or familial expectations.