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Praise of Motherhood Paperback – May 16, 2012
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This is a beautiful meditation, simultaneously subtle and powerfully direct, on the depth of emotion between a mother and son. Jourdan's words come back to me long after I've finished the book. Moments of this memoir leave me haunted, and in that way renew my devotion to fragile lives, which is to say all of us, all so human, and to life as wild and fleeting. (Monica Drake, author of Clown Girl)
Praise for Motherhood is a brutally honest, touching, and gut-wrenching story about love, loss, family and, possibly, forgiveness. (Richard Thomas, author of Transubstantiate)
About the Author
Phil Jourdan is a musician, translator and columnist from Portugal, living in the UK.
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Phil is on a quest for understanding. There's a refrain in the book - why? Why did this happen? Why don't I feel anything? Why won't my mother tell me her secret? Why?
And Phil clearly had moments in this book where is is an angry young man, where he is lashing out at the world, but there's such an earnestness to him, an openness, that it comes down to this: Holden Caulfield is an a-hole. Phil is not.
He twists and turns, walking the story in and out of reality, chasing a thread, a phantom that is not quite his mother, not the idea of her either. Her essence. The part of her that is him.
The book is masterfully constructed, with Phil inviting us into one of the worst periods of his life, leading us through it, making us feel, making us want to reach out to him, before masterfully turning things around towards the end of the book and making it clear that as much as he has been willing to share with us, as deep as we think we've been, we weren't welcome here. There's more, but it's not for us. Not our business.
But there's humor too! Moments where I found myself laughing at Phil's take on things, sometimes in places he might not have intended, and it comes from the honest and open presentation. This happened, then this, and then this. And Phil was the straight man throughout, his honest reactions hitting straight to the nerve of a situation.
The final three paragraphs of the book are simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking, words that'll stay with me for a while.
We follow the childhood and adolescence of this young man, and we feel such a deep connection that his feelings are our feelings, his doubts are our doubts, his fears and obsessions are ours too. We feel with him the intense pain of being alive and feeling out of sync.
The mother in this book is the perfect ideal Mother, the present, caring, sensitive, loving unconditionally Mother. We feel her deeply through these pages. We love him through her, we care for him through her. We love her through his love and caring.
I am ordering several copies of this amazing book to give to several caring sensitive beautiful people I know.
I feel deeply moved.
This story has affected me deeply.
The Buddha said that life is suffering, and this book expresses that pain, yet we feel that suffering can stop.
Somehow I now trust in human nature, in life and in that divine presence more than I ever did before.
Although Sophia passed on, Jourdan gives her new life as he and others remembered her: a compassionate, kind-hearted, strong woman with a touch of mystery. One can truly begin to understand the love that only a mother has when Sophia describes living for the sake of her children. Such is the bond of a mother to those she carried, protected, and loved before she even knew them.
This memoir is a coping mechanism for the author, whose psychosis almost took control of him up until the death of his mother. And it's clear that while it may not have been the cure he was looking for, losing his mother opened Philippe's mind to what Sophia wanted him to understand while she was alive; that she would always be there.