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Descripción de editorial
With the breadth and cumulative force of a novel, Mother of Sorrows presents ten interwoven stories of an American family starting out in the post—World War II suburbs of Washington, D.C., a world of identical brick houses and sunstruck, treeless lawns, a world of initial hopefulness from which shame and loss have seemingly been banished. This is the story of two adolescent brothers whose father has suddenly died, and of their beautiful and complicated mother, a mother whom the younger son worshipfully imagines as “Our Mother of the Sighs and Heartaches . . . Our Mother of the Gorgeous Gypsy Earrings . . . Our Mother of the Late Movies and the Cigarettes . . . Our Mother of Sudden Attentiveness . . . Our Mother of Sudden Anger.” This is the brother who narrates these tales as he looks back thirty years later, the only remaining survivor of a world he seeks both to leave behind and to preserve in words forever, a world of sorrow that has held him spellbound even as he has attempted to create a life of his own.
Suffused with the beauty of Richard McCann’s extraordinary language, Mother of Sorrows introduces us to a voice that is urgent, contemplative, elegant, angry, revelatory, and like no other in contemporary fiction.
Though it is a work of fiction, this slim volume of interconnected stories a collection 18 years in the making by the codirector of the graduate program in creative writing at American University reads like a memoir; an unnamed first-person narrator leads the reader through meticulously constructed scenes from his past, musing on self, sexual identity and family dynamics. The earliest chapters are set in a suburb of Washington, D.C., in the 1950s. The narrator is a child, growing up gay in classic fashion, obsessed with his glamorous mother and chastised by his father for things like "cutting out Winnie Winkle fashion dolls from the Sunday funnies or designing elaborate ball gowns for my favorite movie stars." When he dresses in his mother's clothes with another boy, he is caught; a fishing expedition with his father is a failure. The narrator's transition into adulthood is hardly any easier: his father dies young; his brother, Davis, also gay, is arrested several times and eventually dies of a drug overdose. And in the final section, the narrator is revealed to have AIDS, a disease that has claimed the lives of many friends. McCann's calm, elegiac prose is lovely in descriptive passages, but turns stiff and self-conscious in the frequent explanations the narrator offers for his behavior and that of others. Still, McCann's graceful writing carries these bittersweet snapshots of a life plagued by self-doubt and yearning.