Circling My Mother: A Memoir by Mary GordonIn this triumphant return to nonfiction after two critically acclaimed works of fiction, Mary Gordon gives us a rich, bittersweet memoir about her mother, their relationship and her role as daughter.
Anna Gagliano Gordon, who died in 2002 at the age of 94, lived a life colored by large forces: immigration, world war, the Great Depression, and physical affliction--she contracted Polio at the age of 3 and experienced the ravages of both alcoholism and dementia. A hard-working single mother--Gordons father died when she was still a girl--Anna was the personification of the culture of the mid-century American Catholic working class. Yet, even in the face of these setbacks, she managed to hold down a job, to dress smartly and to raise her daughter on her own, and though she was never a fan of the arts which so attracted Mary, she worshiped the beauty in life in her own way, with a surprising joie de vivre and a beautiful singing voice.
Gordon writes about Anna in all of her roles: sister, breadwinner, woman of faith and single mother. We discover Annas wry and often biting humor, her appreciation of lifes simple pleasures, her courage in breaking out of the narrow confines of her birth. Toward the end of Annas life, we watch the author take on all the burdens and blessings of caring for her mother in old age, beginning even then to reclaim from memory the vivid woman who helped her sail forth into her own life.
Bringing her exceptional talent for detail, character, and scene to bear on the life of her mother, Gordon gives us a deeply felt and powerfully moving book.
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Thank you! Fiction writer Gordon Pearl , , etc. Like that earlier book, this is an impressionistic portrait. Anna vacationed frequently with two close female friends and later took a few awkward trips to Europe with her daughter; at the Vatican, Mom met the Pope and said he smelled like raisins. She was a practicing, hopeful Roman Catholic who idolized several priests. At times, the author is brutal with herself.
In this triumphant return to nonfiction after two critically acclaimed works of fiction, Mary Gordon gives us a rich, bittersweet memoir about her mother, their.
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Not long ago while leaving a restaurant in Brooklyn, I walked into a strange and holy ritual. A red-haired priest in black suit and white clerical collar was out on the sidewalk blessing an iguana.
But critics disagree just how effectively-or compassionately-Gordon captures her mother. Part of the disagreement has to do with what some reviewers describe as Gordon's lack of. Part of the disagreement has to do with what some reviewers describe as Gordon's lack of empathy toward Anna's deformity and ugly final days, her jaded perspective, and the episodic, circular narration. For patient readers, however, Gordon offers a haunting, highly rewarding portrait of a complex woman. This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
The O. Henry Prize—winning author chronicles the century-spanning life of her mother, Anna Gagliano Gordon, and the result is one part tribute, one part reckoning as the author reaches an epiphany, realizing that "the work of mourning is an honorable job," one whose "wages [must be] paid. Turning the lens away from self—and back to parental figures—is becoming a trademark among boomer-age memoirists, and critically acclaimed writers such as Vivian Gornick Fierce Attachments have also tread upon the hallowed ground of filial love with unforgettable results. And what a tour de force Gordon's homage proves to be! The eldest of the five Gagliano sisters there were nine children in all , Gordon's mother was a woman "unarmored by cruelty," living a life in which, in truth, a little armor might have gone a long way. For Anna, it was a difficult childhood, growing up in a clutch of siblings who all had "the quick rage of starvelings" after never receiving enough attention from their overburdened immigrant parents.