I have great expectations of a New York Times writer tackling a memoir. While I can relate to the almost comically painful interactions that take place between mother and daughter in this slim volume, I find many of them hard to believe. In many instances, the book takes on an almost perceptible whiny quality.
The story begins in Queens, New York, in a tenement building. It traces the development and disintegration of familial relationships and attempts to teach a lesson about love. The memoirist’s recollections are clearly one-sided and the characters reflect this quality. Readers will experience no feeling for the author, only a mild disdain for her seeming lack of ability to learn anything from her experiences.
We learn that Myers’ father has a terminal disease, that he’s a heavy drinker, that he dies when she’s 11, and that her mother is taking her inability to cope with that out on her child. Myers’s only real happiness lies in her maternal grandfather, who slips her money after weekly poker games.
Even after her father’s death, the mother character goes out of the way to ignore, infuriate, and berate the author. After about 200 pages of that, it’s not unfortunate to experience the mother’s decline in health. A reader will be left wondering, why all the fuss for such a hideous mother? I have to admit, I’m still not sure of the answer myself.