Friday, November 16, 2012

Richard Russo

Richard Russo's new memoir is Elsewhere.

From his Q & A with Jane Ciabattari at The Daily Beast:

How were you inspired to write Elsewhere?

John Freeman, the editor of Granta, played a key role. He was planning an issue for Granta about going home. He’d been driving along the thruway, and saw the sign for Gloversville and contacted me on the off chance I might be willing to write about Gloversville the real place, as opposed to the fictional avatars I’d used over the years.

I was vulnerable to the idea. My mother had recently died. John called at a moment I was thinking about my mother’s life and death, and our deep ties to Gloversville, and how my mother and I had so much in common. Nature (we were both obsessive people, I as much as my mother), and nurture (we’d both grown up in this same small town that time doesn’t affect very much). If John hadn’t called right then, I might not have written this book. Over the years I have had very few impulses to tell the truth. This book may have exhausted them.

Reading Elsewhere, I was intrigued by the references to her mental state by people who knew your mother well. Her parents tried to stop her from going with you when you drove to Arizona to begin college, referring to her “condition.” When you were 21 your father told you he couldn’t bear to live with that “crazy” woman. At what point did you realize she was truly unstable?

I didn’t know when we went off to Arizona together. I was 18. I won’t say I didn’t have any clue. I just knew that in the female line of my mother’s family, there was a tendency to what was euphemistically referred to as “nerves,” but amounted to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue