I'll Be Home Late Tonight: A Novel

I'll Be Home Late Tonight: A Novel

by Susan Thames, Barbara de Wilde
     
 

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Reminiscent of the works of Kaye Gibbons and Mona Simpson, Susan Thames' I'll Be Home Late Tonight offers an incandescent examination of the bond between a mother and a daughter. During a car trip through the South of a generation ago, two women learn about each other's strengths, failings, and secrets.

Overview

Reminiscent of the works of Kaye Gibbons and Mona Simpson, Susan Thames' I'll Be Home Late Tonight offers an incandescent examination of the bond between a mother and a daughter. During a car trip through the South of a generation ago, two women learn about each other's strengths, failings, and secrets.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Echoing Mona Simpson's Anywhere but Here, this first novel takes the mother-daughter road-trip novel into deeper and darker territoryand with rich if troubling results. Sick of her husband's infidelities, June Wolsey grabs her 12-year-old daughter, Lily, hops into their beat-up Buick and spends the next two years careening through the deep South of the late 1950s with only quick stops for drunken (often dangerous or abusive) affairs along the way. Although Lily narrates their adventures, it's her love-hate relationship with Juneand its strangely sexual undertonesthat takes centerstage. Thames (author of a story collection, As Much As I Know) adds historical weight to this otherwise intimate story by shifting effortlessly from the tension between mother and daughter to the greater racial conflict in the South. The further South they run, the further their relationship disintegrates, until June is all but prostituting Lily: in one disturbingly erotic scene, mother and teenage daughter go on a double date that ends in adjoining rooms at a seedy hotel. What Thames depicts convincingly throughout, in language both vivid and hypnotic, is Lily's confusion of sex with loveespecially when it comes to loving her mother. Thames doesn't attempt to resolve these feelings neatly. Instead, through Lily's conflicted narrative voice, a voice thick with bitterness and desire, she reveals Lily's burgeoning sexuality as a force both destructive and empowering, as ambiguous a presence as the cruel, compelling June herself. B&N Discover Great New Writers selection. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Mother and daughter flee home with too little money and no plans in this depressing and catharsis-free first novel—set in the '50s—by the author of the story collection As Much As I Know (1992).

Twelve-year-old Lily Wolsey's mother, June, doesn't like knowing that her traveling-salesman husband sleeps around on his business trips, but she's willing to look the other way until the day he chooses to move in with one of his other women. Stuck in her mother's house in Covington, Virginia, with no one but Lily for company, June decides to run away, taking her daughter with her. The trouble is, June has no plans, no skills, and nowhere to go—so instead of moving to another town and starting life over, June and the confused Lily keep driving, roughly in circles, around the southern half of the US. Wherever the Wolseys go, trouble follows: A visit to a cousin ends abruptly when June and the cousin's husband are caught with clothes askew; a stay with an in-law in Florida ends when June, drunk as usual, is raped by their hostess's son. Meanwhile, as their finances decrease, June steals, lies, and prostitutes herself to pay for yet another motel room or repairs for the car. Lily, terrified of being left behind, shrugs off the years of school she's missing and learns to flirt with men for money just like her mom. Eventually the two take to buses and trains, sleeping in flophouses until a longer stay in a black-owned bar on the poor side of Memphis gives Lily the time to catch her breath, collect a few dollars, and leave her mother.

A tale of degradation and desperation, for those who like their coming-of-age stories extra noir.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679419167
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/22/1997
Pages:
211
Product dimensions:
5.89(w) x 8.63(h) x 0.84(d)

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