By Janet Burroway
In 16 essays of wit, rage, and reconciliation, Embalming mother chronicles loss and renaissance in a lifestyles that reaches from Florida to Arizona throughout to England and residential back. Burroway brilliantly weaves her manner during the risks of day-by-day life—divorcing her first husband, elevating boys, constructing a brand new existence, scattering her mother’s ashes, and sorting the meager possessions of her father. each one new risk and problem highlights the tenacious will of the physique and spirit to heal.
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Additional info for Embalming Mom: Essays in Life (Sightline Books: the Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction)
Do you mean sex? ” “I’m not going to be sidetracked into a discussion of words,” my mother says, a thing she would never say. “It’s not a sidetrack,” I nevertheless reply. Her foreﬁnger sizzles. I need an ashtray. I know there are no ashtrays here, but I’m willing to choose carefully among the things I know are here: the amethystglass pot with calico ﬂowers set in parafﬁn; the Carnival glass cup with her name, “Alma,” etched in primitive cursive; the California Fiesta pottery in the lurid colors of the zinnias along the front walk.
We are so old-fashioned that the newly-marrieds drop in on the old widowers to make sure they’ve got bread and transport. We have a village witch who will not let the schoolkids cut through her cactus patch and calls the cops every time a dog barks, but she ﬂies in and out on her jet broomstick to a more expensive house somewhere else, and is therefore not a proper member of the community. This augments the solidarity among the rest of us. Besides, the cops like to stop by. They have a cup of coffee and a slice of fresh ﬁg cake and tell us the dog can’t bark because there’s a city ordinance, and we say we’ll take care of it, and they go back to the Frenchtown beat.
He does not, however, want it called punk. I am so anxious he should like me that I pay to have his left ear pierced and offer him a diamond-chip stud of which I have lost the mate. He accepts it cheerfully, but most days he wears a diaper pin through the punctured lobe. She deals with the eyelet of the other sleeve, and she turns to me. I am so startled by this success that I reach into my Italian handbag for a cigarette, and my glance catches no higher than the hand she splays protectively over her stomach; I concentrate on the lighting of my cigarette, and can only suppose the shape of her mouth, narrow-lipped but open wide in the narrow-lipped friendly “hah” shape, large straight teeth except for the crossing of the two lower incisors that I encounter in my own mirror every day of my life.