by Mary Gordon
annotation by Wendy M. Fontaine
There is beauty in sadness and comfort in truth, which is something that author Mary Gordon understands quite well.
Her memoir, Circling my Mother, is a sincere and emotional examination of her mother’s life before it was destroyed by dementia.
The story is about Anna Gagliano Gordon, a dedicated member of the Catholic church who took pride in her profession as a legal secretary and defined herself as a provider for her family. Anna’s story is one of faith, loyalty, betrayal and physical suffering.
With strong observation and smart characterization, Gordon recaptures her mother as a lively and complicated woman who would ultimately be reduced to an infantile state before her death.
“My mother has erased me from the book of the living,” Gordon writes. “She is denying the significance of my birth. I do not take this personally. It is impossible for me to believe any longer that anything she says refers to me. As long as I remember this, I can still, sometimes, enjoy her company.” Continue reading
by Lidia Yuknavitch
annotation by Telaina Eriksen
In the spirit of full disclosure, I just want you know that I was predisposed to like this book from the beginning. The blurbs I read said Lidia Yuknavitch swam competitively. This gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling as I am mother to not one, but two swimmers, and I spend hours driving swimmers, waiting for swimmers, feeding swimmers, watching swimmers, talking to swimmers, shopping at swimoutlet.com, dripping apple cider vinegar ins ears to dry up the water lodged there, and buying lotions, ointments and other potions to try to ease skin leeched of moisture from eternal exposure to chlorine. (This swimming life of mine is made all the more strange given the fact that I can barely dog paddle.)
To continue in full-disclosure spirit, I will also tell you that this book is not for those who choose to pick up the stylings of Nicholas Sparks or Debbie Macomber in their spare time. I was born and raised and have lived my entire life in Michigan. I’m Catholic. I’ve been monogamous for 22 years and my idea of a wild time is to watch Dog Town with the kids while having a wee glass of sangria. So yes, I was a tad uncomfortable reading about pussy spanking and a man hanging from meat hooks “carefully piercing his back slabs.” But the exterior of someone’s life doesn’t always tell you about her interior life and many people will recognize Yuknavitch’s interior life. I know I did. And so while Yuknavitch has had more people in her bed at one time than I’ve slept with in my life, I recognize her anger, her bewilderment, her grief, her addiction, her rage and finally, her lessons. And I think most women, living in a woman’s body on this planet, will. Continue reading