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Mothers and Other Monsters Hardcover – July 1, 2005
From Publishers Weekly
The 13 stories in McHugh's debut collection offer poignant and sometimes heartwrenching explorations of personal relationships and their transformative power. In "Presence," a woman helps her husband through an experimental therapy for his Alzheimer's disease and, by the story's end, is less his spouse than a nurturing mother to his developing personality. "In the Air" bridges three generations with its account of the different emotions a woman wrestles with as she anxiously tracks her wandering senile mother and her rebellious teenage daughter by means of biologically implanted homing devices. "Laika Comes Back Safe" represents so believably the feelings two school friends share about their lives in dysfunctional families that the revelation that one occasionally transforms into a werewolf seems entirely within the realm of possibility. Whether writing an alternate Civil War history in "The Lincoln Train" or a tale of extraterrestrial anthropology in "The Cost to Be Wise," McHugh (Nekropolis) relates her stories as slices of ordinary life whose simplicity masks an emotional intensity more often found in poetry. The universality of these tales should break them out to the wider audience they deserve.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Each story in this collection meditates in its own, odd way on the dynamics of families and the vagaries of being human. "Ancestor Money" considers the demands of the afterlife and the expectations of the living; "The Lincoln Train" describes an alternate ending to the U.S. Civil War, in which former slave owners are shipped westward on crowded trains. "Nekropolis," the germ of McHugh's novel of the same title, gives a slightly different flavor to the origins of the story common to both versions. Other stories occur in settings closer to the known world and the tensions of families in it. In "Eight-Legged Story," a stepmother comes to terms with being a replacement parent, and in "Frankenstein's Daughter," a woman deals with the health problems of her daughter's clone, while her teenage son tries to show off to his friends by shoplifting. McHugh's stories are hauntingly beautiful, driven by the difficult circumstances of their characters' lives--slices of life well worth reading and rereading. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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