My Mama came to visit me last week to attend the Hopwood Ceremony and keep me company. We talked about everything under the sun; she was in an especially fun mood.
One of the funniest moments of the ceremony came afterwards, when one of the donors, a kind, elderly woman, told me she read my novel and loved it. “This is my mother,” I said, and introduced her to Mama. The donor took my mother’s hand and said, “I hope you don’t take the book too personally.”
“I haven’t read it,” Mama said, shooting me a look. I refuse to show either of my parents the novel until it comes out.
“I like all the shoe and foot images in the book,” the donor said. I didn’t realize it when I was writing, but feet and the idea of root-ed/lessness figures prominently in the text.
Later that week, Mama and I had lunch at Zingerman’s and Mama began talking shit about Dr. Seuss.
“What did you read?”
“The Foot Book. There are many musical problems in his rhyme schemes.”
“He annoys me.”
“I cannot tell if he is just making the words simple for kids, or if he’s an ass.”
I shook my head.
“Oh… he’s an ass.”
I’ll be in California early next week, so I won’t be able to go to NYC for the World Voices Festival, but I gave Mama the tickets to tomorrow night’s Writing Home event.
She asked me what the reading was about, and I read to her from the event’s page: “When a writer knows home in his heart, his heart must remain subtly apart from it. He must always be a stranger to the place he loves, and its people. —William Morris”
She’s going with her friend, a fellow recently naturalized American. I can picture them in the back row crying or cackling, or both. Can’t wait to hear Mama’s version of the night.