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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Mother of Sorrows by Richard McCann 
8th-Feb-2006 04:24 pm
This is not helping my mood, lemme tell ya!

McCann, Richard. Mother of Sorrows. New York: Pantheon, 2005.
Summary: Ten interlocking short stories about a boy who, as he grows up, must deal with multiple deaths of family and friends and his own conflicted identity.
Comments: Well, I must give McCann credit for this much: He has turned a series of short stories published in a bunch of different venues and periodicals into what is practically a credible novel. At times they connect so smoothly that you forget that they're stories and not chapters. My favorite in the stories is "My Brother in the Basement," which tells about Davis and the narrator as adults, both of them gay (which was a surprise, given the earlier childhood stories where the narrator casts himself as the "sissy" and his brother as the "good son") and living together in the same apartment, but choose two very different lives. The narrator is closeted with his mother and career-oriented; Davis is out with his mother, doing drugs, and unable to live prosperously. In some ways I'm reminded of a previous short story collection that I read recently, You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett, but, in final analysis, while the former deals with more subjects and locales, this collection has rather more range and far less ambiguity. It actually has themes in common with the so-called gay epics like Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham--there is a terrible breakdown between what is expected/hoped for and what is actually lived. So many deaths--the narrator's father, his brother, his lover, his friends, and the son of his friend--make the title (which is also a translation of his mother's real name, Maria Dolores) especially apt. We're all alike in our grief, I suppose, and that's what makes this little tome universal.
Notes: hardcover, 1st edition
Rating: 7/10 - Excellent, thoughtful writing that's highly recommended...especially given the minimal time commitment involved. Depressing as hell, though.
28th-Feb-2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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