All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 2.6 MB
Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.
In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall? Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.
Maggie is in the midst of a second lazy orgasm when her brother, Ariel, calls to tell her their mother has died. “Don’t pick up,” Lucia says, the lower half of her face glistening. But Maggie doesn’t listen; she lives for moments like this.
“Hello, Brother. I am currently being eaten out. What are you up to?” And when Lucia pulls her face away, peeved, Maggie leans up on her elbows and says, “No, don’t stop.”
But then she listens, and she sits up and pulls away from Lucia, tugs her knees close to her body, protective. She can feel her face turn stony, is sure the color is draining from it as her brother talks. She sees how she must look through her lover’s shifting features, Lucia’s eyes widening with concern, her mouth hanging open a little, chin still wet.
“Okay,” Maggie says. She repeats it. Then: “I’ll text you my flight details.” She doesn’t say “I’m sorry,” though she is, nor “I love you,” though she does. She can’t think clearly enough to say the things people are supposed to say in such moments. Not because she’s stuck—she isn’t. She isn’t even thinking about her newly dead mother, nor of the violence of her death, a car crash along a route she can picture well. Instead, Maggie is several steps ahead, thinking of the funeral, of who she needs to call, of what will happen to her father. She’s thinking about whether they need to print programs, whether the synagogue will do that, and whether that’s even really a thing, or just something people do on TV. She’s thinking about her planner, sitting in the kitchen, so far from where she needs it.
“Mags, you’re scaring me,” Lucia says. She’s sitting very close to Maggie now rather than between her legs, kneeling, her brown breasts hanging heavy, nipples grazing Maggie’s knees. “Where are you going?”
Maggie stays hunched into her phone, looking at flight options, prices and times. “Home,” she says, and she leans forward to kiss Lucia, whose lips look especially swollen, though it’s just that her lipstick is smeared despite its no-smear promise. “You’ve got a smudge,” she says, and thumbs it away. “My mom died.”
“What?” Maggie tends to shriek when she’s surprised, but Lucia goes soft and still. It makes people lean forward to hear, and somehow amplifies her presence. It’s one of the things Maggie likes about her so much. Her solidness, the space she takes up without trying. “Babe, your mom?”
“Yeah,” Maggie says, lowering her eyes to her phone again. “A tree crashed into her car. Can you hand me my wallet?” But Lucia pulls the phone out of her hands instead. “Hey—!”
Lucia holds Maggie’s face in cupped palms, looks into her eyes like she’s trying to find something there, something that isn’t. “I think you’re in shock.”