The science is still unsettled, but by now it should be clear to most readers that cancer causes memoirs. In fact, it’s the leading cause of memoirs, followed closely by emotionally unavailable dads and drug abuse.No one would admit this publicly, of course, but many of us feel like the weary mother in Edan Lepucki’s new novel, “Woman No.
My memory might be severely flawed, but I seem to remember that in graduate school it was uncool, maybe even forbidden, to talk about inspiration. We were about the work itself, one word in front of the other, and deadlines, and have you read Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai, and what’s your take on the retrospective voice? Gauzy ideas like inspiration were not to be bandied about; perhaps such an idea struck us as un-serious, like in-class writing exercises.
In one of my favorite photographs of my mother, she’s about 18 and very tan, with long, blond hair. It’s the 1970s and she’s wearing a white midriff and cutoffs. My dad is there, too, hugging her from behind, and from the looks of it, they’re somewhere rural — maybe some pastoral patch of small-town New Jersey where they met. I haven’t seen this photo for years, I have no idea where it is now, but I still think of it — and, specifically, my mom in it.