“A parent who disappears, if he’s spoken of at all, is at the mercy of the one who stays behind and of a child’s wishy-washy memory.” (25)
“What a story! Delusion requires charity, which I, like many people who loved her, was more than happy to offer. There was something about my mother that made you not only want to follow her off a cliff but also to cushion her blow when you both hit the ground. She didn’t perform chores or cook any meals; when my mother made dinner-and I loved her dishes-it was a tub of cottage cheese sprinkled with Lawry’s seasoned salt, or a pound of ground beef mashed into tiny pebbles and either fried to crispy burnt scabs or snacked on raw. My mother nourished me with words.” (16)
“I took this love of role playing to school, where I had to be cautioned by my teacher for reenacting the Kennedy assassination during charades.” (70)
“Routine is uninteresting to recall and often unmemorable to record.” (189)
“I’ve retired all air quotes around my family members, reserving them for things they’ve said or written.” (255)
and that is a summary in quotes of this amazing book by a talented writer who i unintentionally read all at once after putting his titles on hold after hearing him talk at the philly free library, and somehow freeing all of them up at the same time. coincidence? i think not. he also very graciously and enthusiastically responded to my tweetering, so you gotta love that.
i related to so much in this book-from the absence of one parent (albeit the opposite one), the complicated relationship with the remaining parent, that parent’s delusion as a coping mechanism, partners that come out of these flawed models, and the things-tangible or otherwise-that we inherit and negotiate on our own journeys through life. i relate to the tragedy, the ecstasy and the relief when a corner is turned. i can only aspire to use the gift to convey so beauty-fully the triumph that comes from sometimes being a pretty piece of broken. thank you, mr. skyhorse for blessing us with all of these stunning sentences.
bachelor number too:
“Their marriage was a Napoleon complex, short and furious.” (23)
“My father was like God: an unseen life-giving entity whose existence I had to accept on faith.” (26)
“When Frank left, I learned that in each broken heart lies what we know we should do to heal and move on. Then there is what our hearts are capable of doing instead. This is what both my mother and I called love.” (46)
“I was learning, though, that imagination could always give me the father I wanted when my own imaginary father couldn’t.” (65)
“The title was Paul’s idea. Amid a row of books written by twelve and thirteen- year-olds, with festive cover illustrations of mice wearing superhero capes and happy spacemen, was The Shame of America, the title spelled out in vinyl mailbox lettering.” (118)
i’m still laughing about this, as well as the kennedy assassination, and the scene in butter when she carves that same convertible ride.
“Sometimes the gap between Candido and me feels too great, like an aside to the family I want with my sisters. It’s as if my mother ripped out the pages of my story with Candido as she read them, let them fall to her feet like plucked feathers, and then left Candido and me to reassemble our book without the benefit of page numbers.” (256)
“I’d brought the bullets to destroy him, but the gun dissolved right in my hands.” (228)
“On the drive to Candido’s house, we struggled for small talk like picking up pennies wearing oven mitts.” (232)
“The feeling of another man claiming me as a member of his own people and his own homeland is irresistible to someone who feels he truly has neither.” (240-41)
“The more I told my mother’s lies, the less I felt like I was just an extension of her. The truth about Candido seemed like another way for my mother to control me and define who I was. In the shade of absolute falsehoods, I realized I could grow up.” (105)
“When her unexpected turns of heart worked to my advantage, I loved her capriciousness and embraced my unique situation as her child.” (185)
“She never lost her temper in public; she’d just misplace it and find it at home later.” (53)
the sum of their parts:
“It’s presumptuous to assume I’ll be a father at all. I’m forty years old and childless. Part of me waited this long because I knew I was an unstable man who’d make an unstable father. I didn’t want to pass on my depression to my children genetically or by example. And how could I take care of a child when I had no model for what a good father was? Remembering my fathers, individually, they lied, drank, cheated, stole, and abandoned their loved ones. I know I can claim no moral high ground with them: these are the people who taught me. I’ve cheated on lovers, stolen people’s time, and abandoned friends. I lied for years about who I was and made up stories in college about a thuggish life in an inner-city jungle that was never really that rough.” (238-9)
“Of course, insisting that that I’d never be with anyone like my mother led me to a woman just like her. Dramatic emotional swings-Sofie’s and mine-that too closely resembled my mother’s made me feel Sofie and I were incompatible. Or too compatible. We both had to win arguments, both needed the last word, both heard anger at decibel levels louder than expressed. Our moods were like flights of stairs we shoved each other down.” (181)
“I didn’t cry over my mother’s death. I couldn’t cry because I was incapable of crying. When my tears came at last, I cried because I’d been deprived of a chance to lash out at her for my pain.” (213)
“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said. “I want for us to get married one day. And for your parents not to be there.” (167)
and, wow. this idea of marrying someone without their family, their baggage, their cat-it may just be more revolutionary and/or more impossible than imagining a world without racism, classism, or iggy azalea. many of us think it, and more of us need to stand up and be counted.
ruby’s playing: little dragon, tlc
redd’s playing: pete rock & c.l. smooth, tribe, royce da 5’9’s demar derozan shoutout
reg is playing: kanye every day, and mariah’s debut album
cmw shows attending this week: kimmortal on tuesday (with musical director eirene cloma) and nomadic massive on wednesday
round 2 playoff series checking for: clippers vs. rockets