Monday, September 9, 2013

Mothers and Daughters and the Storylines Between Them

Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
Format: hardback via library

From Goodreads: "Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husband’s fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life—stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs—in 1970s California."

I mentioned about me and the short stories these days, right? Well, I'm still on that streak. And Serber's debut collection was immediate and open and real. Very "these people could be my neighbors." The title story in particular evoked the same "I'm not proud I thought it" feeling of gee, I'm so glad my kids are boys instead of girls I get sometimes when dining with my friends. Not that I'm unaffected by the complex and inextricably linked lines between mother and daughter - I am a daughter, after all, and one who has shared an office with her mother for the past 20 years. (Hi, mom!) (Thanks for not being like Ruby in this collection, mom!)

I particularly admire Serber's deft selection of telling details and shaping of key moments. She gave me a lot to dwell on and moments that stick clearly and vividly to my heart. I'm looking forward to reading more by her.

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