Recently I had lunch with my mom. About an hour in she revealed to me that my older aunt had died, but that she was worried about mentioning it because of her own weird kind of unresolved feelings with my dad’s side of the family. She was older and quite ill, so it was not surprised or unexpected, but it weighed on my mom in a weird way.
In this novel, a middle-aged woman on the cusp of a trip out of town also sits on the news of her mother’s death hours before as she meets up with her brother and daughter and a few others.
This is a novel dripping in it. Dripping in white social discomfort, in clashings of generational changes on social progress, alcohol and alcoholism, and death and family.
The whole of this novel takes place in about a day and a half from a smokey cocktail hour to a boozy dinner to several more scenes like the above.
Over all this novel deals with the tragic discomfort of family and death. This is a novel where I could consistently feel my body feeling older and more ragged and used and gross and dying. I grew up in a smokey house and the smoking in this novel and the drinking got to me.
This writer, Paula Fox, is mostly known for her youth fiction like The Slave Dancer, that a lot of us read in middle school. Last year I read another of her adult novels Desperate Characters and it had the same kind of feel….a Mad Men like view of America giving way to racial discomfort and social discomfort of the 1970s.