Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Reading - The Almost Moon

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Helen Knightly is an artist's model near 50. She murders her mother Clair - who has dementia - after Clair loses control of her bowels. Herself is the mother of two daughters and an art class model old enough to be the mother of the students who sketch her nude figure, is the dutiful but resentful caretaker for her senile 88-year-old mother, Clair. During the next 24 hours, Helen Knightly feels liberated and caged. She succumbs to sexual and subjectively deviant impulses others might try to suppress. But she still has the presence of mind to annotate her behavior in ways which show she's no dummy. She washes and drags her mother's body to the basement. She has sex with the 30-ish son of her best friend, who's all sensuality and no substance. She thinks about Clair, her sarcastic, reclusive, once beautiful and now dead mother.

Helen recalls her dead father (loving and gentle but also mentally ill, who liked to carve wood into whimsical shapes). She thinks about her ex-husband Jake (supportive present-day accomplice), her two daughters (apparently normal), her art teacher pal (for whom she poses in classes as a model) and her neighbors (generically nosy and friendly). She thinks about her best friend Natalie (unhappy but in love with a construction worker) and Natalie's son Hamish, Helen's aforementioned one-night paramour.

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