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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting Spousified, November 3, 2012
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This review is from: Elsewhere: A memoir (Hardcover)
In the novel "Elsewhere- a memoir" a single Mom "spousifies" her only child. In his early childhood the son is spared some of his Moms craziness because her parents live below them and they gently and delicately allow the borderline Mom to feel that she is independent. She works and pays her own way. She can't drive. She hilariously manipulates others to drive her places.

Russo writes with humour and compassion about the boy's going off to college. Guess who comes along?

The mother and son are enmeshed and he calms himself by organizing his mom. He is the prioritizer of her "to do" list. He learns to drive by taking a battered old car " The Grey Death" out to Arizona from New york state. This is funny writing but I really got the sense of how desperately the son needed to keep his mother from chaos and despair. This is a 'what doesn't kill you will make you strong" kind of book. The son develops the can do- take charge- rescue approach. He chalks up his Mom's behavior to OCD.

I think Russo was trying to find compassion for the Mom and son by unraveling the thinking of a person with OCD. He wants to understand the panic attacks and meltdowns. Exactly what is it that causes them?

Russo pays homage to Anita Brookner. Perhaps he was calling in her spirit and attention to psychological detail. He mentions "Du Lac"- a novel about isolation and loneliness. Under the humour Russo wants us to see the mother's lack of connection to herself and those around her.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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