novels

My brother-in-law is producing a radio documentary about my family– our family.  In an interview with my mother, my mother is talking about her mother:  “We never had anything to eat in the house, all we had is ketchup and saltines, this was all she bought, and if she would cook, she would cook big pots of things and we would be eating that every day until it ran out.”  I remember my mother telling me that when she was in school and had no money she would go to a diner and eat the saltines with ketchup that were on the tables.  She doesn’t mention this in the interview, or that she cooked in big pots, too.  I’m not sure I remember when that started– it was not when I was a child, it was later, once my parents had split and only my sister was living with her in the house. Big pots of vegetarian chili. Big pots of bean soups. A novel– “The Novel”– is designed to mimic that scope– of experiencing life– ‘a way of life’– in one way for a long time and then it turns over or into itself.  I don’t know if I can do it, be in one textual place long enough and then take the veils off, to write something that feels like this did this morning, reading that interview and re-seeing these bits of my past– her stories for me and habits of living– and what they might have meant to or about her.

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