Circling My Mother A Memoir [ epub ] ✓ Mary Gordon

REVIEW Circling My Mother A Memoir

Anna Gagliano Gordon who died in 2002 at the age of 94 was the personification of the culture of the mid century American Catholic working class A hard working single mother – Mary Gordon's father died when she was still a girl – she managed to hol. Mother mother your feet stinkYou re old and poor and you like to drinkStill you re a Catholic pure and trueMother mother I hate youNobody reads Mary Gordon expecting warmth insight empathy or humor From the very beginning this renowned Irish American intellectual has specialized in hate But up until now she s been smart enough to restrict her hatred to safe targets In every book whether fiction or non fiction old Barnard warhorse Mary Gordon sidesteps the tough uestions about her envy resentment and spite and the vast half hidden sea of her own unconuerable self loathing Instead of looking inward she rounds up the usual suspects Men of course first and foremost But also Protestants meaning American native born types like Miles Standish or Bill the Butcher or Abraham Lincoln but never well born female Protestants like Lizzie Borden or Susan B Anthony or Jane Austen Or the Protestant ladies who founded Barnard College And she takes cheap shots at the military and the poor and country and western music and aging hippy chicks feel empowered and everyone goes home happy But this time Mary Gordon bit off than she could chew This time she broke the unwritten rule This time she turned on her own kind made war on her own family And the educated reading public was not amused But if you know where to look there s humor amidst the horror The old lies contradict themselves in some surprising new ways For example there s a great deal of whining at the beginning of the book about Mary Gordon as a child being miserable at summer camp And of course she blames it all on boys horrible dirty evil smelling boys who have unusually smelly st and talk about st all the time Now I think Mary Gordon is on to something here I mean I can remember being nine years old and knowing certain boys who thought that going to the bathroom was the funniest thing in the world Such boys exist but generally they grow up Is Mary Gordon grown up Why is she still boiling over with hatred after sixty years Come to think of it when was her last bowel movementNow skip forward to the Sixties and the snotty phony way Mary Gordon feels sorry for herself for having to suffer during the anti war protests at Columbia University Now some real protesters at Columbia got their teeth knocked out Black protesters got killed in cities like Newark and Watts But then combat soldiers in Vietnam got their legs blown off and worse And what happened to Mary Gordon She mumbles something about being shoved Oh dear I think Mary Gordon got off pretty lightly in the Sixties But I don t hold that against her What I resent is that she s lying about her own motives Hating the boys at summer camp led her to feel exactly what about the young men dying in Vietnam Weren t they the same boys Why pretend to care all of a sudden Wasn t Mary Gordon merely looking to fit in with her wealthy and Protestant classmates at Barnard In short wasn t she motivated by hate before the Sixties during the Sixties and after the SixtiesNow let s go back to summer camp Among the indignities of that terrible summer poor suffering Mary mentions having to read a book she didn t like Happens to the best of us Professor Gordon But the great literary scholar mentions a name LAST OF THE MOHICANS by James Feni Cooper Now I know all about Mary Gordon s hatred of American literature I ve read GOOD BOYS AND DEAD GIRLS I ve seen her spit in Mark Twain s face and kick Herman Melville in the shins Very heroic stuff But at least in those days she was attacking male writers who excluded women or trivialized their suffering or something Poor James Feni Cooper is no Mark Twain He bends over backwards to make Alice and Cora sympathetic and even heroic They see all kinds of horrors in the wilderness and they remain pure and compassionate to the very end So what s the dealOkay skip to the very end of this hunk of cheese and there s a passage where Mary is moaning and groaning about her coarse unrefined mother who just couldn t appreciate the arts Moan So there s an intriguing passage where Mary s mother sees a Picasso nude and says something like I don t want to look at tits And then there s a priest who talks about dealing with bare breasted black women in Africa and says something like oh their tits were like coke bottles And Mary s mother laughs and Mary makes virtuous suffering sounds that indicate she s refined and can deal with tits provided they re portrayed tastefully and with elegance And it s art But I think she s lying I think Mary Gordon wants to be hip but when push comes to shove she hits the panic button and turns into a pumpkin shell at midnight just like her mother You see there s a passage in LAST OF THE MOHICANS that speaks to this issue It s where Alice and Cora are in jeopardy and brave young Uncas has to swim for help And as the young Mohican brave strips down there s a moment where refined virginal Alice gets a really good look and she very much likes what she sees But Feni Cooper is uick to clarify that she only feels the same pleasure she would feel at beholding an exuisite Greek or Roman statue As a kid I thought that was a silly cop out Now I m not so sure I suspect Mary Gordon hated and feared this book because Alice got to be pure and innocent and still feast her eyes on a noble Indian brave without guilt and without shame Mary Gordon didn t like that at all I m afraid that underneath the Barnard degree and the fancy perfume and the stale Sixties politics she s still a mean dirty minded slob just like her mother She tries to break loose but she hasn t the courage compassion or imagination to repudiate the corrupted values she picked up from her morally bankrupt father and mother So instead of actually breaking free she keeps going around and around in circles talking loud and saying nothing Hence the title Circling My Mother

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Circling My Mother A Memoir

D down a job dress smartly raise her daughter on her own and worship the beauty in life with a surprising joie de vivre Bringing her exceptional talent for detail character and scene to bear on the life of her mother Gordon gives us a deeply felt and p. Well I m going to take a page from Kristi s book and start a review mid bookCircling My Mother is this year s One Book One Saint Mary s book selection And to be honest I m having trouble figuring out why it was chosen Less than 100 pages in the book comes across as incredibly bitter and self serving The author appears to be using this book to express her hurt feelings and share the difficult times she went through most of which she blames on her family She spends a lot of space complaining that her family is the root of her problems but I can t imagine that the publishing of this book will do much to endear herself to them Perhaps she doesn t careIt s an outlet for her anger and resentment Perhaps this is a way to help the reader understand why her mother is the way it is but I m having trouble getting past my dislike for the narrator Lots of people go through difficult things every day and are able to find the strength to manage without being a whiny complainer I do hope this book turns around Perhaps the next few chapters will elicit a less visceral reaction I had hoped that this book would portray a strong female character but right now she s just coming across as being helpless I m not impressed or inspired I ll certainly pick the review back up when I finishOkay I finished the book And it didn t get any better I was actually compelled to take notes on my thoughts on how much I disliked it My notes include the following descriptionsVengefulSelf servingUnforgivingThe narrator is uick to judge and refuse forgiveness which is pretty hypocritical for someone who had an affair Honestly if it weren t for the narrator one might see this book as an interesting dialogue on the lives of immigrants in America and their complicated relationship with the Catholic church and specifically priests But then the author comes in with her negative thoughts blame and self pity My final note came from the last 2 chapters which were the most disjointed in the book Seriously decide what you want to write prose or poetry Anyway this line relating to the authors feelings after writing her tome fits how I felt after reading the book perfectly The task has exhausted me A good book should not exhaust you I realize it was probably difficult for the author to pry all of those hateful thoughts and memories from the depths of her brain but I have no sympathy So that s my review In total the One Book One Saint Mary s book campaign is 0 2 in my book with this one really tipping the scales in favor of skipping the whole thing next year My hope from this campaign was to be introduced to stories and characters with strength and perseverance something I could learn from or strive to In this case I ve been severely let down

Mary Gordon ↠ 1 SUMMARY

Owerfully moving book about their relationship Toward the end of Anna's life we watch the author care for her mother in old age beginning to reclaim from memory the vivid woman who helped her sail forth into her own life From the Trade Paperback editio. I did not particularly like this book The relationship between Ms Gordon and her mother is so strained and strange as are her relationships with her extended family aunts cousins Perhaps I could not understand the dynamics of a large Catholic family and the huge role the church played in it I founds myself skimming paragraph after paragraph of interior dialog as Gordon attempts to explain herself in relation to her mother both as a young woman and as she the mother became ill with alcoholism and old age A very sad tale indeed The chapters can be read as self contained essays each focused on a different aspect of Gordon s mother s life The only one of the chapters that resonated with me with any strength was the one that described Gordon s mother and her boss My mom also a single mother worked at the same occupation legal secretary and had the same kind of idol worship of her boss That chapter rang true to me


10 thoughts on “Circling My Mother A Memoir

  1. says:

    Mother mother your feet stinkYou're old and poor and you like to drinkStill you're a Catholic pure and trueMother mother I hate youNobody reads Mary Gordon expecting warmth insight empathy or humor From the very beginning this renowned Irish American intellectual has specialized in hate But up until now she's

  2. says:

    This is the second book I've read by Mary Gordon I have an ambivalent attitude toward her as a writer She writes well but I think I don't like her as a person It would be interesting to see what I thought if I met her Mary Gordon's book about her mom is a lot about her herself really And she seems to harbor a lot of grudges and ill will toward people in her family Her self pride particularly about her childhood precocity also seeps throu

  3. says:

    After reading this actually 34 before I flung it down in disgustI wouldn't shake Mary Gordon's hand if she held it out to me A memoir is all about personal perspective but hers is so bitter and warped and skewed and I don't

  4. says:

    No one will ever fault Mary Gordon for a lack of frankness or honesty In the past she has mined her rather difficult upbringing and family life for short stories novels essays and memoirs Now with Circling My Mother she shares intimate details of her often difficult relationship with her mother a woman afflicted

  5. says:

    Well I'm going to take a page from Kristi's book and start a review mid bookCircling My Mother is this year's One Book One Saint Mary's book selection And to be honest I'm having trouble figuring out why it was chosen Less than 100 pages in the book comes across as incredibly bitter and self serving The author appears to be using this book

  6. says:

    Public library copy I was looking for something 'light' to read ha This is not light reading I read it uickly because that is what I do when I'm

  7. says:

    I'm nearing the 75 mark for memoirs read Since I'm writing my own I'm trying to read as many as possible to study form language characterization setting tone etc I have read about 10 that are stellar and what I like about them most is that they are lyrical rather than literal they are reflective instead of judgmental they are embodied rather than summarized So the problems I had with this particular memoir wer

  8. says:

    This was a book club selection Some people loved it Some disliked it intensely Most were indifferent I can't claim to have

  9. says:

    I did not particularly like this book The relationship between Ms Gordon and her mother is so strained and strange as are her relationships with her extended family aunts cousins Perhaps I could not understand the dynamics of a large Catholic family and the huge role the church played in it I founds myself skimming para

  10. says:

    A memoir about a complex mother daughter relationship the author's tone is self involved and excessively self important Eve