Mother of Sorrows by Richard McCann

Issue #97
Fall 2005

Mother of Sorrows, stories by Richard McCann (Pantheon): The pieces in this debut book are so tightly interwoven that the whole is novelistic, and they have a ring of truth to them so profound that the effect is practically memoiristic (indeed, one story was reprinted in an anthology of memoirs). The overall effect of the "sunstruck" suburban world of mourning and resurrection, evoked by the sole survivor of a family of four stricken by sudden death, addiction, and disease, is both luminous and surprisingly witty. "Our Mother of the Mixed Messages; Our Mother of Sudden Attentiveness; Our Mother of Sudden Anger; Our Mother of Apology," the narrator incants about his mom, in a moment that manifests the prose’s capacity for capturing and evoking the contradictions within these complex characters. McCann is a clear-eyed poet who knows what sorrow is, and isn’t afraid to give it to us in its kaleidoscope of grief and humor, fact and fiction. —Fred Leebron