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From “a fiercely intelligent writer” (The New York Times), a wry, poignant story of the difficult love between a mother and a son.
In the winter of 2000, shortly after his mother’s death from cancer and malnourishment, Donald Antrim, author of the absurdist, visionary masterworks Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, The Hundred Brothers, and The Verificationist, began writing about his family. In pieces that appeared in The New Yorker and were anthologized in Best American Essays, Antrim explored his intense and complicated relationships with his mother, Louanne, an artist and teacher who was, at her worst, a ferociously destabilized and destabilizing alcoholic; his gentle grandfather, who lived in the mountains of North Carolina and who always hoped to save his daughter from herself; and his father, who married Louanne twice. …[more]
There’s Rob, Bob, Tom, Paul, Ralph, and Phil; Siegfried, the sculptor in burning steel; blind Albert and ninety-three-year-old Hiram; Foster, the New Age psychoanalyst, and Maxwell, the tropical botanist, who, since returning from the rain forest, has seemed a little screwed up somehow. Donald Antrim assembles them—along with their eighty-nine equally eccentric brothers—in the decaying library of their family estate. Before cocktails are served, Maxwell is cataleptic, Virgil hysterical, and genealogist Doug has made off with doctor Barry’s medicine kit. Supper gives way to indoor football, a conversation with a dog, and ritual sacrifice.