A BOOK ABOUT MY MOTHER by Toby Talbot

A BOOK ABOUT MY MOTHER

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A book about how much the author misses her mother. This is perfectly acceptable, of course, except that the grief over Bella Tolpen's death completely overshadows Bella herself: a nice enough lady who lived to be 74, was good to her kids, and would probably not understand why her daughter would invade her privacy in this manner. We are treated to doleful histrionics that seem strange for a woman in her fifties (""Your mama was an offering, not on permanent loan"") and brief glimpses into mama's daily life: she fled the Nazis and, later, a hated stepmother to come to America; married a window cleaner who was also an addictive gambler (and later contracted Parkinson's Disease); kept her daughters feeling safe and special, her closets fresh, her homemade bread impeccable. Everybody stopped to talk to her and found in her a sympathetic, nonjudgmental listener. But these are hazy pictures indeed: where are the I-Remember-Mama anecdotes, and why the pretentious reliance on present tense to convey a sense of being there (""Her cheek is cold under my lips"")? The final word on this offering belongs to the author herself: ""It is less a homage, an elegy, or requiem to her, it seems, than a barrage of my own uncontainable rantings.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1980
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux