Most of us believe Mom’s life is worthy of a book, don’t we? Or at least a novella. How many of us though, would have the gumption to tackle writing that book ourselves?
Not a fawning portrait, but a real, difficult, fair book about what Mom is really like. After you dig past “Best Mom in the World” and “The Glue that Holds the Family Together,” would you have the gall to really expose not only the height of her courage, but also her darkest flaws to the book-reading world?
Alexandra Fuller does, and that’s what makes Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (which is reviewed briefly in More’s October issue, inspiring me to snap one up as soon as I could) the most riveting, beautiful book I’ve read all year. I actually read this sentence four times because I thought it was so gorgeous:
“When I was a child, Mum presented Kenya [where she was raised] as a place of such forbidding perfection that its flawlessness shattered in the telling and what I was left holding on to were shards of equatorial light.”
So that’s all well and lovely, but you’ll also find Fuller describing her mom’s hugs as “stiff, reluctant, and brief,” and she says that her mom has spent time in an institution “for the mentally unhinged.”
Her mom is very much alive, by the way.
I mean, many of us are still white-lying to our moms.
Me, I would never ever ever (Hi Mom!) ever write such a book. Would you?