Monday, September 13, 2010

ON BOOKS ~ Mostly True - A Memoir...

We are what we make of ourselves, but our family - warts and all - creates the base that we build everything off of. Molly O'Neill's memoir embraces this theme. She is a well known writer and critic of food for large New York and Boston print publications. Her little brother was a legendary outfielder for the Yankees. But her book focuses mostly on life before the bright lights and big cities. It focuses on her base.

Although I grew up several decades after Molly, I found myself identifying so strongly with many of her tales. Some sweet, some hysterical and some maddening. All having to do with her relationship to her parents and her five younger brothers.

Life as the only child morphing into life as the oldest child.
"I remembered how my father taught me to fish in the front yard - the whirring sound of the reel, the feel of his legs behind my back, the smell of Old Spice, the sound of his voice in my ear as he told me to keep my eye on the target and cast my line long. Nothing in my life had ever been as real as that moment. So much of what I'd become since then was because of my father's lesson. Soon after this lesson, however, my father's attention was distracted by the arrival of my brothers. And perhaps that loss explains why I became someone he could never recognize or know."

Life as a child morphing into life as mom's second in command.
"My mother was baffled by my inability to grasp the obvious, just as I was mystified by her inability to see past it."

Life looking for the escapes of childhood.
"I invited her to join the two of us in my castle under the pine tree. Its low-hanging branches concealed a huge interior space that smelled like Christmas, with blue-green walls that rose up and up to a ceiling patched with pieces of blue sky. Once inside the tree, we were completely hidden from the house."

Life searching for anything other than what was expected of her.
"I had glimpsed a life that did not include coddling, cooking, or caring for boys - a life that did not, in fact, include any boys at all. It took my breath away."

I felt like Molly was treating me, the reader, as her personal confidant. Like I was there for her, nodding in agreement, providing support along her journey. Until she grew up and turned into that friend whose self-made success becomes more difficult to applaud because they are forever dropping names. I rolled my eyes quite a bit in the last half of the book to be honest.

Maybe she rolled her own eyes too because in the end, she decided to just go back to her base. To her relationship with her family. How they made her who she needed to be to become what she wanted to become. A success.

Thanks to blogging buddy Susan @ Bear Swamp Reflections for sending this freebie to me and giving me some baseball love to cling to while watching the Red Sox fade off into the sunset.


Susan said...

I clicked on this several times and it wasn't there!

Bravo, Molly! Just an excellent review. You captured the essence of the book exactly. I knew you would like it! How could you not like a book with baseball (even if it isn't your team), hometowns, and a namesake. You rock, girlfriend!!

Susan said...

I put your review on Woo-hoo!