The Mother of My Invention, by Pat Taub, a review

 

There is nothing like a daughter learning her mother has a terminal illness to shatter the sleep of the dormant demons of the mother/daughter relationship.  As so it is with Pat Taub, author of The Mother of My Invention, her memoir of the whirlpool of the relationship with her mother, Jane. In her 80’s and Pat in her 50’s have recorded a lifetime of barbs and jabs, slams and putdowns.  Blame is never easy to assign, especially for someone like Taub, a trained psychotherapist and a professional journalist with in-depth interviewing skills.  For the most part, Taub operates as though she has a bad mother, but with time now finite to examine the truths behind the facts and appearance, she wonders at the depths of her soul how much of the quake in the relationship is because she is a bad daughter.

Anecdote by anecdote, Taub leads us through the two years of gradual decline.  Although Taub takes the lead on her mother’s care, she weaves into the story the relationship with her brothers and learns secrets about her father and her mother.

And, if the script of this opera is not enough, Peter, Taub’s demon lover, enters with his own weather–changing from dark storms to bright, sunny skies.  At more than one spot in the book Taub wonders to herself if she is a masochist like her mother, seeking out men who treat her poorly.

At a number of intersections in the book, this reader will stop and measure her observations against their own personal experience.  If I had a dollar for every woman who asked/said to me, men treat them like crap, I could spend a month in Starbucks.

It is my sense that the mother/daughter relationship is the most intense, potentially stressful and most rewarding, of all the one-to-one dialogues.  Father/son, father/daughter, mother/son, sisters, brothers, sister/brother, twins–all have their own dynamics that might play out as meteoric growth, development, and achievement–or a disaster on the launch pad.  It seems to me all the tugging and pulling that goes on between family members is apprenticeship for the dramas of courtship and lifetime mating–the second most complex relationship of all.

Taub examines the role of daughters and over the years and has examined this with her girlfriends.

Taub never forgets all of this review and examination takes place in the context of her mother’s life winding down.  Medication, hygiene, and doctor’s visits are a full-time job.

It might seem a spoiler for me to tell you that, in the end, Taub chips her way through a backlog of anger and comes to understanding and forgiveness.  The reason this is not a spoiler is readers will be asking themselves whether they would have been able to understand or forgive.

Taub acknowledges her debt to Jane for lessons in how to be charming while pushy, how to be persistent to the edge of stubbornness.   Skills which she must have honed for her award-winning public radio program, Women’s Voices.

An inscribed copy of The Mother of My Invention can be ordered directly from the author by writing to Pat Taub at pparee2011@gmail.com

Taub divides her time between Portland, ME and the Florida Keys.  Sometimes she conducts workshops on Discovering Our Mother’s Stories.

NEXT.  AL talks with Pat Taub about how the book came to be and what it has meant for her since.

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About allevenson

Writer (of stories, journals, email dialogues), Reader (of books written by friends, recommended by friends, and works-in-progress of friends), Hiker (never met a trailhead I didn't like), Biker (more scenery for the buck than hiking) and lately, Blogger (about my Year on the Road at www.allevenson.wordpress.com).
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9 Responses to The Mother of My Invention, by Pat Taub, a review

  1. karen wittgraf says:

    Ah ha! The mother/daughter thing again. Mine was a true character, mournful and terribly witty, she kept me laughing most of the time. I fought her Irish disposition for many years, said things I should never have said. Then, after her death, I had a shamrock tattooed to my ankle, in honor of the wisdom I didn’t appreciate, and now do. The mother is the teacher for life, and I wish she could have taught my daughters what I could not, which is to love themselves.

  2. I think you are forgetting what this Blog was all about. Certainly not Book reviews. I loved the travel. Time for you to feel the WanderLUST again AL. I just loved it and can’t wait. So when do you get away from everything again?

    • allevenson says:

      David,

      What has received the most positive response has been writing about the people I’ve met. The hopeless and homeless as well as people at heaving against levers at fulcrums they perceive, also including people that simply amuse me. Mary Roach and Pat Taub both pass my test.

      Although spring is upon us, we still have some sub-freezing days. I dont want to recommission the JS until I am sure we are not going to get a surprise.

      I do have myself scheduled for a writer’s retreat in June. Sometime between now and then, I’ll see how the JS handled hibernation.

      Thanks for asking,

      AL

      *AL * *Ride with me and Lightnin’ **on our Year on the Road at ** http://allevenson.wordpress.com or the new blog at* *http:allevenson2.wordpress.com* * * *Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.

  3. dhbauer says:

    It is interesting to me that Pat Taub has surfaced some of the complexities of the relationship between mothers and daughters. Nearly a century ago Freud uncovered the multifaceted nature of this relationship that is rooted in both biology and culture. A generation later, several of Freud’s female followers, such as Melanie Klein and Karen Horney, were among the first to outline in more detail the psycho-dynamics of those relationships. Both Klein and Horney were contemporaries of early feminists such as Virginia Woolf and Georgia O’Keeffe. Evidently, Pat is a modern writer along with Naomi Wolf and Betty Friedan who are probing the depth of their own psyches to help illuminate what Jung called the mother archetype.

  4. David L says:

    I agree with Dave Simmons and look forward to your interview with Taub. Our friend Dave Sawle has invited “guest posters” to his blog (which I also follow) and I’m a bit turned away by that as well. I will do a blog this year and one thing I’ve learned is “stick to your knitting.” When one draws a crowd with free ice cream cones, they ain’t gonna stick around for fried frog.

  5. Colleen Rae says:

    Al, I very much like the fact that you are a people person and interview, observe, get to know, dig into people’s persona and lives. Thanks for reviewing Taub’s book, and keep up the important, creative work that you do.
    For myself, I had a difficult relationship with my mother. Maybe all mothers/daugthers could write books about themselves. I could certainly write one about my mother, who was a lovely, creative, smart woman, but domineering as hell.

    • allevenson says:

      Colleen,

      I’ve received several private replies from favorite females friends like yourself. Most speak of mix emotions, a turbulent period, and memories that mellow with time.

      I think some of the qualities that the Universe loaded in with feminine genes–patience, slow to judge, quick to forgive, better empathy skills– serve to heighten the tensions and stresses between mothers and daughters and deepen the appreciation of one another.

      I have the interview back from my copyeditor and am loading into WordPress. Look for it tomorrow night around 8 pm Eastern.

      Thanks always for personal authenticity of your comments.

      AL

      *AL * *Ride with me and Lightnin’ **on our Year on the Road at ** http://allevenson.wordpress.com or the new blog at* *http:allevenson2.wordpress.com* * * *Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.

  6. Barbara Nathan says:

    I have only 1 erudite comment: Good book review, Al! After reading it, I’ve decided to read the book. Hooray for Pat Taub and YOU!

  7. MaryAnne Catlin says:

    Al,
    I have to concur with Barbara, good book review and thank you for posting it.
    I’ve been fortunate in having a lovely and delightful mother/daughter relationship with my only and adopted daughter since she was 17 days old. I will get Pat’s book as I realize my experience is probably the minority. Thanx for the recommendation.

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