WHY DID I EVER by Mary Robison


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Beautifully crafted, often dead-on satire from Robison (Subtraction, 1990, etc.), marred by a dated, stereotypical protagonist: the feckless middle-aged woman who has loved and lived too much.

Divided into 527 numbered chapters, many barely a paragraph long, Money Breton’s frenetically paced narration chronicles the accumulating crises in her life. She lives in a small Alabama town with her friend Hollis, who teaches Driver’s Ed at the local high school. Money has three ex-husbands and two children. Daughter Mev, who has twice failed the bar exam, works at minimum wage in a nearby chicken-processing plant and hands in Mellow Yellow soft drink instead of the urine sample required by her methadone clinic. Son Paulie lives in New York and is currently under police protection after being brutally assaulted by a vicious criminal. He is also waiting to hear whether he has AIDS. Money’s lover, Dix Didier, is a good ol’ boy with money who lives in New Orleans. She spends hours in her car driving to New Orleans to be with Dix, or just driving (she occasionally winds up in Florida) to try and pull herself—or, rather, selves—together, as she struggles with an increasingly divided personality. While she frets over Paulie’s situation, her cat goes missing, which means further driving around at night looking for him. She also flies frequently to L.A., as she’s a script doctor who keeps getting fired. On one trip to La-La Land she gratifies her current employers by coming up with the sentence “He has no Romantic Procedure” to describe the character of Bigfoot. Stuff happens, some good but mostly bad. When her children’s lives seem to be changing for the better, exhausted Money finally feels able to slow down.

Robison’s prose is as razor-sharp as ever, but her heroine’s inexhaustible capacity for disaster eventually proves tiring rather than engaging.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-58243-060-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Counterpoint
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2001


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