From Publishers Weekly
Acclaimed novelist Antrim (The Verificationist
) makes his first foray into memoir with a moving attempt at tracing the roots of his own depression, anxiety and trouble with women. He does this by examining his relationship to his life-threateningly alcoholic mother, Louanne, who wrecked two marriages to the same man and irrevocably scarred her children. In the most comical of the book's seven associatively organized parts (most were New Yorker
pieces), Antrim tries, shortly after Louanne's death in 2000, to buy himself a new bed, only to be goaded by guilt and paranoia into buying and returning several. Another piece focuses on a bizarre kimono Louanne, a highly skilled seamstress, made late in her life, complete with sewn on giraffe, mystic birds and potpourri pouches. In the powerful final episode, during Louanne's last big hallucinatory drunk, while dragons fly about her head, Antrim must find the strength to become his mother's parent. Cynical, self-effacing and humorous prose conveys Antrim's struggle to love someone from whom he must always protect himself. While readers may want more penetrating self-analysis and narrative gaps filled in, this is a compassionate portrait of a flawed and destructive woman who, in spite of her son's enduring (if reluctantly given) devotion, couldn't be saved from herself. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Antrim's three novels are acclaimed for their streaming surrealism, analytical intensity, and dark comedy. In this elegiac memoir, he wrestles with anger, remorse, sorrow, and wonderment as he tells the sad, puzzling story of his late mother's derailed life. Most concerned with the inner realm, Antrim maps his own emotions at crucial junctures and attempts to fathom his mother's "operatically suicidal" alcoholism, his father's detachment, and the eccentricities of a rogue uncle. Ravaged by addiction and estrangement, Antrim's extended family lived in Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina, and his descriptions of how the landscapes of the South have changed over the past 40 years deepen his tales of familial strife. A polished stylist, penetrating thinker, and deft storyteller, Antrim not only portrays his family with sensitivity, nerve, and wit but also writes incisively about the strange wearable art his fashion--expert mother created, considers the sanctuary of literature, and reflects on visions of the afterlife, thus infusing a haunting remembrance with arresting testimony to the power of art and the mystery of spirit. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved