Memoir as meditation on love and loss, birth and death, good and evil, from PEN Award winner Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, 2005, etc.).
In 2007, as the author awaited the birth of his daughter, he became obsessed with the stories of torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He felt that his daughter was only as real as the sonogram images of her, the tortured only as real as the now infamous photos of their naked bodies mired in humiliation and pain. This would change. Maeve Lulu was born, and Flynn traveled to Istanbul to witness the testimonies of ex-detainees of Abu Ghraib. Between his daughter’s imminent birth and his confrontation with the tortured, Flynn became lost—“Everyone, if they live long enough, will lose their way at some point”—and, above all, bewildered—“bewilderment of waking up, my hand on Inez’s belly, as the fine points of waterboarding are debated on public radio.” His only way back was to remember, and so he wrote of memories—some long ago, some fresh wounds, some clear in their meaning, some as elusive as wind. Some memories led to other memories, while others stood alone. He remembered a mother who committed suicide at age 42, a father who was lost to alcohol and then prison at 45, returning to Flynn’s life a ruined man in need of care. He remembered lovers he could not love and feared that when Maeve was born, “I will look at her and not feel a thing.” The author summoned the image of the dragon in Paradise Lost and wondered if it might consume him, the torturers he hates, or both. Flynn recalls and records in a stunningly beautiful cascade of images. In the end, he realizes that only love was real: “The only miracle is now. Lulu is the only miracle.” And that was enough.
A striking collection of memories that will mystify, enlighten, trouble and amaze.