At age 39, Ariel Gore has everything she’s always wanted: a successful writing career, a long-term partnership, a beautiful if tiny home, a daughter in college and a son in preschool. But life’s happy endings don’t always last. If it’s not one thing, after all, it’s your mother. Her name is Eve. Her epic temper tantrums have already gotten her banned from three cab companies in Portland. And she’s here to announce that she’s dying. “Pitifully, Ariel,” she sighs. “You’re all I have.” Ariel doesn’t want to take care of her crazy dying mother, but she knows she will. It’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? And, anyway, how long could it go on? “Don’t worry,” Eve says. “If I’m ever a burden, I’ll just blow my brains out.” Amidst the chaos of clowns and hospice workers, pie and too much whiskey, Ariel’s own ten-year relationship begins to unravel. Darkly humorous and intimately human, The End of Eve redefines the meaning of family and everything we’ve ever been taught to call “love.”
|Publisher:||Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||8.80(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Ariel Gore is the publisher of Hip Mama Magazine. Her books include Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness; How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead; The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show; Atlas of the Human Heart; and The Hip Mama's Survival Guide. She lives in Santa Fe, NM.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1. All About Eve
I must have been ten years old when my mother took me to see Mommie Dearest and then bragged to her friends that I’d laughed through the wire hanger scene.
She riffed on the joke at home, applying that thick white facial mask and bursting into the dark of my bedroom with the wire hanger as I slept. I’d wake terrified, her slim figure a silhouette above me, the hanger in her fist poised to come down on me. But even in interrupted half-sleep I knew my cue: I laughed. And then she wouldn’t hit me.
Retelling it now it sounds so twisted, but at the time it seemed as natural as anythingfried bananas for breakfast or a flasher on the corner, all the unjudged sequences of childhood.
Where to start?
In the beginning that comes to mind, I’m grown. Thirty nine years old. A homeowner and an unmarried wife. One kid in college and another in the crib.
Start anywhere, Ariel.
It was an ordinary day, after all. Maybe 2 p.m.
My mother stood on my doorstep wearing a coral sweater and coral lipstick. Her hair was white now, but she was still striking in that Hollywood kind of a way. Tiny and dark, she looked like a cross between Joan Baez and Susan Lucci from All My Children. Beautiful. That’s the first thing people noticed about her. “Your mother is beautiful,” they’d say. Like I didn’t know.
I sat on my couch working on my laptop. I waved her inside. “That sweater looks good on you,” I said.
“Thanks.” She stepped over the threshold into my living room. “It was Gammie’s. The sweater.” She sat down in the leopard-print armchair. “This chair looks good in here.”
The chair was Gammie’s, too. Our dead matriarch. Our small inheritances.
I clicked the keys on my computer. My important work. I wanted to appear distracted so my mother wouldn’t engage me in some conversation I didn’t have time for. I had to finish a blog for Psychology Today. I had to post a few story critiques in the online class I was teaching. I had to pick my son up from preschool in an hour. My mother was just stopping by to get the youthful skin serum made from sake and lamb placenta that she’d ordered on the internet, wasn’t she? What did she need to talk about?
She cleared her throat. “I guess I should tell you. I didn’t get what I wanted.”
I glanced up at her. I knew she wanted an exposed-brick condo downtown. I shrugged. “There’ll be another condo.” Portland was sprouting new condos like goat grass.
My mother didn’t say anything.
I felt something like a chill in my hand. I hadn’t had a cigarette in three years, but now I wanted one. I stopped typing, looked up at her.
Sitting there in my Gammie’s old chair, my mother seemed so small. She didn’t smile or frown. “It’s cancer,” she said.
“What?” It was like I’d heard the syllables, but didn’t know their meaning.
“It’s lung cancer.” Her words floated into the air between us like dandelion seeds, just hung there.
I’d seen the scans at the hospital two weeks earlier, the little Christmas lights that filled my mother’s rib cage. The pulmonologist wore red shoes. He pointed to those Christmas lights, said he was worried. But she’d never been a smoker. There were still so many different things it could be.
“I have lung cancer,” my mother said again.
I moved the computer from my lap, sat up straight. “Shit. All right. What do we do?”
“Nothing.” She fiddled with the gold band on her ring finger. “It’s too late for chemo.”
I remembered summer mornings when I was a kid, sneaking away from the violence of our home to make daisy chains in the park down the street; I remembered that just then for no reason.
“What do you mean we do nothing?”
“Stage four,” she said. “I’ll be dead in a year.” She reached into her purse, grabbed her coral lipstick, and re-applied. She licked her teeth. “I’ll go home now,” she said. Home to the studio apartment I’d just rented for her next to the pawn shop on 82nd Avenue.
“Oh, stay for dinner,” I tried.
“No.” My mother pushed herself up out of my grandmother’s chair. “I don’t want to drive back in the dark.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this memoir