Parnassus Books welcomes Elissa Altman author of Motherland.
Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing asks the universal questions that have defined mothers and daughters from Demeter and Persephone to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. How do you care for a mother you love, but don’t necessarily like? What are the rules—and limitations—of daughterly obligation and caregiving? Can it ever end well?
Elissa and Rita have forever struggled to find their place in each other's worlds. Rita, an overreaching, makeup-addicted, narcissistic Manhattan singer couldn't be more different from Elissa, her gay, taciturn New England writer daughter. Stuck in an outrageous maelstrom of codependency, mother and daughter cannot seem to extricate themselves from the center of each other's lives. Motherland is their universal story: a kaleidoscopic journey built on the ferocity of mother-daughter love, moral obligation, and the possibility and promise of healing.
Having survived a harrowing childhood at the hands of her mother, Elissa, critically acclaimed author (Poor Man’s Feast, Washington Post columnist of Feeding My Mother), is finally settled in Connecticut with her wife of almost twenty years. After much time, therapy, and wine, Elissa is at last in a healthy place, orbiting around her mother, but keeping far enough away from her to preserve the independent, quiet life she has built for herself. All of this is suddenly at risk when Rita, whose days are spent traversing the streets of Manhattan from Bergdorf's to Bloomingdale's and back again, suffers an incapacitating fall that leaves her fully dependent on her only child.
Forced to confront her mother’s desperate need for beauty, her view of the world through a medley of men, her lost days in the spotlight, addiction, and the money that has mysteriously disappeared in the name of maintaining her youth, Elissa must navigate the waters of their shared history, obligation, the problems of caregiving and age, and the frenetic, co-dependent love that has defined their obsessive relationship. Evoking George Hodgeman’s Bettyville, Motherland excavates the definition and demands of fraught mother-daughter love, what it means to return home from a world you escaped, and the inevitability of time.
Provocative and timely --- according to AARP, 43.5 million Americans, most of them women between 40 and 60 years old, now find themselves in the role of inadvertent caregiver to a parent --- Motherland is a literary exploration of all that it means to heal the most ancient of relationships when it seems an impossibility.
Elissa Altman is the critically acclaimed author of Poor Man's Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking and the James Beard Award-winning blog of the same name and Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The New York Times, Tin House, The Rumpus, Dame Magazine, LitHub, Saveur, and The Washington Post, where her column, Feeding My Mother, ran for a year. Her work has been anthologized in Best Food Writing six times. A finalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize, Altman has taught the craft of memoir at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The Loft Literary Center, 1440 Multiversity, Ireland's Literature and Larder Program, and has appeared live on stage at TEDx and The Public, on Heritage Radio, and NPR. She lives in Connecticut with her family.