Kirstin Scott’s stories have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Sonora Review, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
$15.00 paperback | 248 Pages
e-book | ISBN: 978-1-936970-20-9 iTunes Publication Date: January 8, 2013
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AWP Award Series in the Novel
MOTHERLUNGE is an eloquent and irreverent debut novel about first sex, true love, chronic sibling rivalry; it’s about the deepest fear of young (and not-so-young) adulthood: the fear of inheriting a disappointing life. It's motherly advice, too—featuring wigs, dogs, road trips, and medicine—a guide to the essential experiences of being female, "born unto a librarian, named for the goddess of sight,” waiting for the future to arrive. With sly wit and surprising joy, MOTHERLUNGE considers the flaws in the family line and celebrates the promise that staggers alongside.
Funny and smart…in Thea and those around her Scott has created characters we believe in and wish well, characters who feel real—strange and sad and happy, like real people are.
—Publishers Weekly (“Pick of the Week”)
Impressive...Scott, winner of the AWP Prize in the Novel, renders wonderfully offbeat characters in crisp, polished prose.
—Booklist (starred review)
From the judge’s citation:
Told with dazzling prose, Motherlunge is a wry, luminous exploration of the legacy of motherhood—here, about the afflictions that may cycle through generations. This is a thoroughly engaging novel, with wonderful turns of phrase in every sentence, and its witty humor announces a welcome new voice in American fiction, full of charm and tender wisdom.
—Don Lee, author of The Collective
…voice is where Kirstin Scott astonishes, both in the gutsy yet precise and lyrical voice of her narrator Thea, and in the brilliantly realized voices that Scott bestows on the rest of Thea’s family. Here we have a tribe of mothers-gone-wrong and their sidelined, well-meaning, hapless men – and yet, owing to the sheer inventiveness of Scott’s prose style, the family portrait that emerges is almost (well, not quite) affirmative. We believe in these characters and even believe that some good – some human equivalent of that ribald, generous and knowing voice -- will come out of all this.
—Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule
So surprisingly joyous is Motherlunge's writing, and so careful and precise, too—it’s full of the kind of perception that stays the reader's eye, that startles and delights. Informed not so much by sentiment as by psychological, emotional, psychical knowledge, Motherlunge is an example of what important fiction does, allows us the experience of extremity within the arms of reason and hope.
—Michelle Latiolais, author of A Proper Knowledge
Winsome, deft, and magical . . . everything about Motherlunge is unpredictable in the best possible way. When I finished, I turned back to page one and read the book again.
—Debra Monroe, author of On the Outskirts of Normal
Motherlunge is one of the smartest amusement-park rides I’ve ever ridden.
—David Kranes, author of Making the Ghost Dance
During those years at the market, was Walter well-groomed and reliable? Did he greet customers with a smile and an inquiry (Have you noticed that our sweet corn is in?)? Did he perform key tasks and manage other duties as assigned? For example, did he devise clever signage (How’s them apples? 40 cents a pound!)? Was he careful to rotate the heads of lettuce so that the fresher ones were in the back, and did he tear off the browning leaves?
Walter did these things only occasionally and not well. He did enjoy aiming the carrots all in one direction, however. He made a hellfire of raining orange arrows.
But did he, as his widower father often suggested to him in those early years, make the most of this opportunity within the Buttrey’s Company, striving to work his way up, joining the Rotary Club or the Masons so as to make potentially useful business connections? Was his handshake firm? Did he have the manager and his wife to his apartment for dinner occasionally? Or did he perhaps think that a psychiatric institution—as they were far more humane than they used to be, not like The Snake Pit or similar, staffed by trained doctors and achieving miraculous results in hundreds of people every single day—might not be a suitable place for Dorothy, for a while?
Walter considered these and others of his father’s suggestions, but his mind would never stay on them. He couldn’t do them. For one thing, he didn’t want to give his father the satisfaction. For another, his father’s voice on the phone reminded him powerfully that he was already forgetting the sound of his mother’s voice. The way his mother said his name—Wal-ter—the first syllable with a falling note as if her mouth was also trying to smile while she said his name. Most of all, he just couldn’t think of self-improvement. Standing in his stained apron, piling potatoes and turnips and parsnips, he couldn’t focus on these bright and reasonable suggestions. He felt too dark, buried.
Every day he felt himself reaching deeper downward—on purpose, he had to admit, because some part of him must want this blind and twisting kind of striving—a human tuber.