My Mom Said So
My mom read Tiger Drive last week. Now, for those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that my eighty-two year-old mom has had it in her bonnet that Tiger Drive’s a memoir rather than fiction. A lot of the confusion is my fault. After all, I did grow up on Tiger Drive in Carson City, Nevada (the book takes place in Corbett City, Nevada). And my family and novel share archetypal characters:
- an abusive husband and father
- an abused wife
- an addict
- a drug dealer with ties to a gang
Archetypes behave in anticipated ways. This is why a woman in Kansas who is abused by her husband “totally gets” the emotions and choices of an abused woman in California. An alcoholic in Nevada will understand an alcoholic in Texas. We humans act more alike than not.
My novel was causing enough angst for my mom that I didn’t tell her when Tiger Drive was published and available on the World Wide Web.
But like most moms, she found out anyway.
She called me and said her Amazon orders weren’t shipping, and she couldn’t figure out why (this happens quite often). I’m a bit of a custodian for her accounts, so I logged in to see what was happening, assuming her gift card balance was insufficient. I was right. But when I looked at her pending orders, expecting to see the usual suspects of powder coffee creamer, assorted candy, and potato chips, I knew I was in trouble. The pending order was the hardcover copy of Tiger Drive.
So I did what any grown woman might do: I pretended not to see it. I transferred money to her Amazon account and promptly went onto Facebook and told my friends I was in T.R.O.U.B.L.E. Two days after she received the book, I got a call. She asked, “So how does this work?”
I asked, “How does what work?”
“This,” she said.
I suspected she might be talking about the book–my mom and I have decades of passive aggressive interactions to pull from–so again, I did what any grown woman might do; I said, “I’m not sure what you’re asking.” We hung up, neither of us caving in to our game of chicken.
And then last week while I was in Florida, my mom sent me an email telling me that Tiger Drive was “WONDERFUL” and one of the best books she has ever read. She also said, “Keep up the good work. LUV, Mom”So I did what any grown woman who is no longer in trouble might do. I called her to fish for compliments.
Not only was my mom able to “escape” into the book as fiction, she said, “You know what my greatest takeaway was of Janice’s story? I realized I’ve never grieved for your dad.”
I suggested to my mom that she has actually never been able to grieve for anything–not her interrupted childhood, failed marriages, deaths, her ailing health, or her loss of independence, and that she has always been too busy trying to move forward, to survive, to make it to the next day. She never had time for grief. My mom said, “Thank you for saying that.”And we also talked about how her generation didn’t talk about anything and didn’t have the counseling and resources we do today. I raise this fact in the Bookclub Guidance for Tiger Drive:
Harry and Janice grew up in a time where counseling and coaching were non- existent. People didn’t talk as much about their troubles or the things that happened to them. Even in 1989—when Tiger Drive takes place—counseling was very different than it is today. How has society changed and how might the counseling resources available today have helped the Sloan family members?
Have your parents ever surprised you with a response to something you’ve accomplished, or how might your life be different today if you or a loved one didn’t have access to counseling or coaching?
As always, thanks for being you.
P.S.: Lisa Manterfield, author of A Strange Companion and The Smallest Thing, discussed grief in her newsletter yesterday. Something she wrote really struck me:
It took me a long time to understand that grief affects people in different ways, that there is no right way to behave when you lose someone you love. I also learned that you don’t ever “get over” a big loss, you just figure out how to live with it. I don’t think that’s something we acknowledge in our culture.
Tiger Drive is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Ingram. A portion of the proceeds will help fund the Tiger Drive Scholarship. And if you read Tiger Drive, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Your opinion will help readers decided if Tiger Drive is right for them. Also, please tell your friends about Tiger Drive. Word of mouth is everything.