from “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen

In this scene an unmotherly mother attempts to mother a teenage daughter who has been raped;

“It was shocking to see her mother in the gym and obviously shocking to her mother to find herself there. She was wearing her everyday pumps and resembled Goldilocks in daunting woods as she peered around uncertainly at the naked metal equipment and the fungal floors and the clustered balls in mesh bags. Patty went to her and submitted to embrace. Her mother being much smaller of frame, Patty felt somewhat like a grandfather clock that Joyce was endeavouring to lift and move.”


“Well then how could this happen!”

“Let’s just go home.”

“No. You have to tell me. I’m your mother.”

Hearing herself say this, Joyce looked embarrassed. She seemed to realise how peculiar it was to have to remind Patty who her mother was. And Patty, for one, was finally glad to have this doubt out in the open. If Joyce was her mother, then how had it happened that she hadn’t come to the first round of the state tournament when Patty had broken the all time Horace Greeley girls’ tournament scoring record with 32 points. Somehow everybody else’s mother had found time to come to that game.”


Wednesdays are the best days. There is no sport after achool and Graham does the drop off. I have ususally recovered from Monday’s twelve hour stint in the vet clinic. I have pottered about all Tuesday and got nothing much done and by Wednesday there is no excuse not to write. Of course the hallway is still a disaster zone and doing an internet search for holiday accomodation in Sienna or Paris can be a distraction. And then there is Jonathan Franzen talking about his book Freedom and saying that to have too much freedom is the death of him and really he is much happier if he is told he must just sit down  and finish his book or essay or whatever it is he is working on. I can see he struggles too. Asked about the title of his book he said it was his least favorite question.

Anway I am of course no Franzen. I have a book to work on but it has languished now for such a period that I am frightened of it. It has become a mythical thing with yellow teeth and dripping saliva. The thought of it makes my heart  race. I have started it and restarted it a couple of times now. Each time I start again it feels afresh and hopeful but after an increasingly short period it begins to thud and drone. There is part of me that just wants to abandon it altogether. Perhaps give a new project a go. But maybe there is something there and if I push on with it I will find it out.

Instead I am writing this dribble. So perhaps Wednesdays are not good afterall.