Claire Castillon My Mother Never Dies

ISBN 13: 9780151014262

My Mother Never Dies

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9780151014262: My Mother Never Dies

Nineteen stunning, disturbing short stories delve into the complex relationship between mothers and daughters.
In My Mother Never Dies, the literary provocateur Claire Castillon dissects the darkest aspects of the relationship between mothers and daughters. A woman tries so hard to be friends with her daughter that she begins to revert to her own adolescence; another woman finds her mother engaged in an illicit affair with a man they both know too well; a daughter rattles off all the reasons why she’s disgusted with her invalid mother but realizes through her haze of teenage hatred that she is losing the only person who tells her the truth.
Stunning, shocking, unflinching, and ultimately tender, My Mother Never Dies forces us to look at the worst and best of mothers and daughters. Like the work of Miranda July and A.M.Homes, Castillon won’t let us avert our gaze from the terrible and true any more than from the beautiful and true— because it all reveals the depth of our need for each other.

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About the Author:

CLAIRE CASTILLON is the author of many novels and short stories, many of which have been translated and published throughout the world.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

I Said One

When I met my husband, he promised we’d live the good life. We both loved to travel and had, in fact, met in Iran while I was buying a carpet. One simple joke about flying carpets and my husband could later boast to his friends how he seduced me with his sense of humor. We were married at my parents’ place they have an estate in the Touraine and then moved into a house with a garden. People said it looked like an English cottage. Drinking wine with dinner one evening I shared my greatest phobia with my husband: that a masked man would come into the bedroom through the French doors. My husband put me to bed, promising to have shutters installed, but, of course, the next morning it was all forgotten. I don’t tend to worry much, by nature. In fact, men have always appreciated my placid temperament. You can take me anywhere, I adapt to the temperature and the population, I always fit in, find my stride. I’m a real chameleon. We’ve even lived abroad, going here and there for my husband’s job, and, every time, I’ve found my niche and enjoyed it. New acquaintances, new surroundings, new activities have never cramped my style. On the contrary, I have an optimistic nature, I know how to go for it, it’s my credo to make a success of my life. Even after we moved back to France we continued to travel all over the world together because my husband is allowed to take his spouse along on his business trips. I have neither a career nor a dog; I keep myself totally available for him. And, I don’t know what your thoughts on the matter might be, but I have my own theories about what a man gets up to when he’s alone on a business trip. More than four days on his own, and the wife gets cheated on. Oh, don’t make such a face! Have you ever looked into it yourself?

The only territory where I’ve never been prepared to go along with him, and I’m the first to admit it I’m not being judgmental, but I do recognize the fact is in his desire for a child. When he suggested having a baby, it was as if the sky had fallen on my head, I even laughed, I was so sure he must be joking. He didn’t mention it again for a while, but it was brewing. He’d dawdle like a schoolgirl outside stores with baby carriages and make this silly grin whenever he saw some sweet little baby doll wiggling in her daddy’s arms. Survival instinct or not, I was afraid he might go somewhere else for what he wanted, so, after some negotiating, I agreed to become a mother. I warned him that I would only have one. He looked stunned, but that was the way it had to be, I was agreeing to it out of my love for him, and on the condition we have a daughter. Sooner or later I’d probably grow attached to her, otherwise she’d have to make do with distant affection. My husband was over the moon. I got pregnant very quickly; he treated me like a queen even before my stomach began to swell. I was completely spoiled and I even got a necklace. It was one of those, what do they call them, diamond rivières, I think, though the diamonds were fake, of course, there was no way he’d give me real ones, but this looked just as good! I remember one dinner party where the women trooped over to my table to admire my gorgeous necklace. And no, I didn’t admit that it was fake, it was none of their business.

So where was I? Oh yes, pregnant. What a fuss! My stomach blew up all at once, I was on the verge of despair, after almost forty years of my life spent standing up straight so that I wouldn’t slouch like my fellow creatures. They ran some routine tests, and that’s when they realized I was expecting twins.

 

First U.S. edition

Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2006

English translation copyright © 2009 by Alison Anderson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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