May 11th, 2012

Issues with your mother got you down? Shopping for a Mother’s Day gift filling you with dread? Think you got it bad? Check out these moms and remember, yours is probably wonderful!

1. Every Day is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel: We’ll assume you’ve read Wolf Hall and that Bring Up The Bodies is currently on your nightstand but for something completely different from one of your favorite writers, may we suggest Mantel’s first novel, a dark domestic comedy about a half-wit daughter barricaded with her mother in their once-respectable home. Described as “Stephen King meets Muriel Spark,” this book is a great read, though it may be a demonstration of the worst mother/daughter relationship imaginable.

2. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman: When Hassman gives us this line: “My name is Rory Dawn Hendrix, feebleminded daughter of a feebleminded daughter, herself the product of feebleminded stock,” only five pages into the book, it’s a subtle clue that this will not be a tale of a heartwarming mother-daughter relationship. Calling Rory Dawn’s mother absent would be a kind way to put it, as her alcoholism takes control of both her own life and Rory’s.

3. The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn: The best thing that you can say about the mother in St. Aubyn’s series is that at least she isn’t as bad as the father. 

4. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: At a young age, Burroughs was given over by his mother to be raised by her unorthodox therapist, resulting in a less-than-normal childhood. In a home where the friendly neighborhood pedophile lived in a shed behind the house and electroshock therapy was a gripping form of entertainment, this book might be appropriate for Mother’s Day accompanied with a note reading, “Thank you for not doing this to me.”

5. Smut, by Alan Bennett: While the mother in Bennett’s second novella, The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, may not be quite on the level of some of Picador’s other Bad Moms, it cannot be denied that her relationship with son Graham is not ideal. We don’t want to give too much away, but we’ll just say that it’s never a good thing when you and your mother have the same love interest.

6. The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen: This National Book Award Winner is a darkly comic study of a “typical” American family. Matriarch Enid watches her family fall apart: her husband is losing his sanity to Parkinson’s; her eldest son is crushed by clinical depression; her daughter has destroyed her marriage; and her youngest son has lost his seemingly secure job and moved to Eastern Europe. Desperate for a sliver of joy, Enid sets out to bring the family together for Christmas, a seemingly futile endeavor. Hopefully your mom has slightly less dysfunctional family holidays to look forward to.

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