Donald Antrim's mother Louanne was a difficult woman: an operatically suicidal, chainsmoking, delusional alcoholic who even when sober believed that her cat Merlin was a descendant of the Arthurian necromancer. Seeing his own life bound up in her relentless deterioration, Donald Antrim embarks on this strange, marvellous memoir in an attempt to make sense of his mother and her legacy.
A series of tragic-comic adventures in psychological dysfunction, Antrim's personal journey takes him wandering across the Southern states of America, tracing the bust-ups, reconciliations, and migrations of his warring parents. Gradually he unpicks the stories of his childhood, and the characters: his handsome sportsman uncle; his hardworking, bewildered Episcopalian grandparents; and his mother herself - alarming, melodramatic, manipulative, reckless and brave. This is a vivid, unmissable Technicolor slideshow of a memoir.
Donald Antrim is an editor (formerly at Little, Brown USA) and highly acclaimed writer, and regularly contributes to the NEW YORKER. He lives in New York.