In October 2008 Gregory Cowles of Paper Cuts, the New York Times books blog, put a few questions to Robin Romm, including:
What are you working on?Read the complete Q & A.
Well, tonight I am working on remaining optimistic about the election and not getting queasy over the financial crisis. I’m sure I’m in good company. But on the literary front, I’ve got a memoir coming out in January. It’s called “The Mercy Papers: A Memoir of Three Weeks.” I started writing it in 2004, when I took a leave from graduate school to be with my mother while she was dying. I’d been writing short fiction for years, but I found that the summer and fall of my mother’s final decline, I couldn’t tunnel into a fictional world. My own world seemed so bright and urgent, so violent and weirdly pure. A wise professor of mine (Nona Caspers) suggested I abandon fiction for a while and just write what I saw. So I did. And then I wrote more. Contrary to what people assume when I tell them I’ve written a book about the weeks leading up to my mother’s death, the project wasn’t an act of catharsis or therapy. I put craft to chaos to tame it somehow, to make it knowable. I wanted to reveal a complicated knowledge, a truth I couldn’t find in any of the books I’d read about loss. I wanted to give a voice to the contradictions — the dark humor inside of the rage, the terror inside of the love. It was also a way for me to keep my mother with me. As long as I was writing the book, I had a mother. Now the reader will have her. What an odd thing memoir is.
Read about The Mercy Papers.
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