Monday, January 24, 2011

Mother of Sorrows

Quite possibly pure genius!
Richard is currently teaching at VCFA but he is also the co-directer of the creative writing program at American University.
In an NPR Interview Richard said that it took him seventeen years to write this book which is about his mother and himself and his brother growing up in suburbia. Published as "fiction," Richard says he had worked on it as nonfiction up until it was time for the book to be published and his publisher decided to publish it as fiction, because Richard says, he omitted too much for it to be a memoir.
I attended his lecture at this Winter's VCFA residency, where he said "I think of myself as writing from life." He then quoted Rilke, "A work of art is good if it is sprung from necessity." MOS springs exactly from this place. He said at his lecture, "You must find re-entry into the scene you are writing about; you must double as both character and writer, therapist and patient." Which is exactly what he accomplishes in MOS.
His story "My Brother in the Basement" has one of the most amazing, startling, perfect endings I've ever read.
Here is just a tiny snippet from the book:

My brother, Davis, went to his room, where he listened to Radio Moscow on his shortwave. As for me: I cleared the table.

“Sit with me, son,” my mother said. “Let's pretend we're sitting this dance out.”

She told me I was her best friend. She said I had the heart to understand her. She was forty-six. I was nine.

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