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Review of the Hero of the Book by Elizabeth McCracken

I loved Elizabeth McCracken’s new novel, The Hero of This Book, and hated depriving people of the opportunity to unknowingly dive into something great. So feel free to stop here and pretend I’m pressing a slim hardcover into your hand and say: just read. “

If you’re someone who needs more information to commit, I warn you that this book is hard to categorize. Page after page is a quiet tale of an adult child mourning a parent. All in all, it’s a map of how to love someone.

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Told partly as a travelogue and partly through memories filled with family lore, “The Hero of the Book” begins with the narrator’s trip to London in the summer of 2019, ten months after his mother’s death. to start. When she settled into her hotel, she checked her email and found a link to her listing of her childhood home in Massachusetts. The house has just been sold by real estate services and emptied of her parents’ belongings. she doesn’t want to see Tourism provides distraction and memory in unequal parts.

In 2016, it turned out that she invited her mother on a trip to London. In 2019, visiting Tate Her Modern and Tate Britain, eating bad sandwiches, taking ferries and enjoying theatre, her thoughts are a powerful one with a charm of joy and wonder. It is swirling around the history of her mother, an intellectual. Our narrator details the ups and downs of chaos and clutter in their parents’ unkempt home (“Everything they touched turned into nickel”). death of her father. And a series of conversations, setbacks, successes, opinions, and details that can only be gleaned through someone’s deep knowledge. These continuous, dizzying jumps in time reflect the nadir of bereavement. How something as trivial as a sandwich can trigger an avalanche of memories.

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With admirable candor, pragmatism, and humor, McCracken gives us the gift of confession as we walk through the experience of dealing with loss. However, this book is not a memoir. Our fictional narrator (a writer with nearly the same qualifications as McCracken) defines terms of use early and often. Her mother disliked memoirs, especially when they were about the writer’s mother. The narrator says: My mother would have hated it! Her brain was the one she could trust, but she gave control to someone else’s brain. Still, she liked to be thought. “

To solve the memoir problem, McCracken introduces Trevor, the owner of a hotel in London. Trevor turns out to be a cheeky device that gives her permission to write an almost true story that she can present as fiction. “Maybe you are afraid to write a memoir,” she wrote. “Invent a man and call your book a novel. The freedom a single fictional character gives you is immense.” So, “the hero of this book” is a novel.

Then, in small increments that feel like the acknowledgment we’ve gotten as worthy confidantes, McCracken details how she differs from the narrator. It is an abbreviation for

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Perhaps, in the bereavement microgenre imbued with honesty about lies, there might be a few nods to “a heartbreaking work of prodigious genius” by Dave Eggers. But it was a story of adolescence, of premature loss of parents, of exaggeration and hope. It is the reality of what we are left with if we are given the privilege to do so.

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No big family drama, but not to be missed. This mother isn’t one of those biting memoir monsters from adult survivors: she’s a nice lady, sometimes irritating, but that frustration is barely a headline. She just admits everyone is at least a little annoyed.

She had cerebral palsy, used mobility aids, and had major health events in the years before her death, but these were facts, not stories. Not (which she did), but to live fully. I think this mother was smarter, kinder, more determined, more humorous, and more fun than anyone else, but McCracken doesn’t support her as an idol. Instead, taking advantage of the freedom Trevor gave her, she presents a special, ordinary, multifaceted woman, loved in all of it, and when we lose special and ordinary people, Offers tacit understanding that you are not alone.Experience.

Through “The Hero of This Book,” McCracken extends a mother’s heaven into our memories. I have thought of her very fondly for a long time.

Alison Larkin is the author of four novels and most recently “people we protect

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