My mother, Mary Alice Dahl, died under strange circumstances in 2006. She lived and died under the dust cloud of various physical and mental illnesses. Was it schizophrenia? Split personality disorder? Borderline personality disorder? The prolonged effects of sexual abuse? Derangement due to an array of prescription drugs? I — we, my remaining family — still have no answers. This book is partially based on the journals she kept as madness ravaged her mind and she slogged through her final days on this earth. The remainder is based in letters and my own, quite subjective, interpretation of her life. As a whole, it is an attempt to find out what happened to my mother, as horrific as that was. Please read it as a poem; do not judge between “fiction” and “non-fiction” — just read and we’ll try to figure out what happened to her.
“Brace Yourself “
Five Star Review by Dominic Breiter
I’m writing this fresh, having finished only moments ago after speeding through the whole story in about three days, which is not hard to do. This is the epitome of an unreliable narrator, and my allegiance as the reader was constantly manipulated, which I loved. A very very painful read. Excellent motifs throughout–blood, bathtubs, etc.–that don’t feel contrived or overly “literary” but in keeping with the illness. A few technical hangups: the chapter separations were pretty random, oftentimes in the middle of a scene. Also, maybe use caps, bold, italics, or something to make it more obvious when changing POV (e.g. Lonnie, Mother Mary) as the transitions sort of just blend in with the rest of the prose, especially given its more poetic format. My advice to future readers is to press on through any confusion and know that the “objective reality” of this world does reveal itself over time. Just be patient, enjoy the great writing, and know that you will be richly rewarded with twists and turns along the way. Overall: a gutsy, well-executed project, not at all tailored for commercial success but worthy of it in my opinion. Will definitely read more from this author.
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