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The Things between Us: A Memoir

The Things between Us: A Memoir Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Montgomerys of Framingham, Massachusetts, are among the last of a dying breed — New England WASPs who effortlessly combine repression, flamboyant eccentricity, and alcoholism. Fragmented by drink and dysfunction, the family had avoided assembling under one roof for more than a decade. But when Big Dad, the patriarch, was diagnosed with stomach cancer, the siblings all returned to their childhood home, Four Corner Farm, to help their parents navigate the specialists, treatment options, pain management, and, most difficult of all, their own anguish. The Things Between Us is Lee Montgomery's alternately wrenching and riotous story of her family reuniting as one of their own is dying.

Even in healthy times, Big Dad moved carefully through life, taking responsibility for the farm, the cars, the house, and his wife. Meanwhile the irrepressible Mumzy drank her first gin each day at 8:45 a.m. and spent her time singing jazz standards and reliving the glory days when she rescued horses from the now defunct hunt club. Prickly and proud, the two tried always to keep their chins up. But Big Dad's cancer rattled their formidable denial, and their habitual coping mechanisms took on heightened meaning when he became sick and the family reconvened. In Big Dad's last months, Montgomery accompanied him on his daily walks as he bade farewell to the places where their lives had unfolded; she and her mother sang old songs, and eventually composed their own jazzy musical called If You're Dying of Cancer, Do You Want Us to Tell You?

Montgomery's stunning memoir vividly evokes the often unspoken bonds between family members — bonds made of memory, love, and disappointment. Heartbreaking, lyrical, and often hilarious, The Things Between Us hums with a sense of wonder as the author discovers anew the most familiar people in her life, herself among them.

Review:

"In her bittersweet memoir of her father's death from metastatic stomach cancer, Montgomery (editor of Tin House magazine) charts the rough terrain of her eccentric New England family life and explores the trauma it took to reunite her dysfunctional family. Montgomery's mother is a falling-down drunk who has gin for breakfast; her gentleman farmer father, Big Dad, ignores his wife's alcoholism. The author's sister, Lael, and brother, Bob, are nine and six years her senior: Montgomery feels as if she grew up solo, in a different world than they. Escaping harsh realities is a family trait and none of the family has spent so much as a holiday together in more than a decade before Big Dad's news, when they all, reluctantly, come home. Montgomery skillfully shifts her narrative between the harrowing dailiness of her father's yearlong illness, her mother's escalating drunkenness, her own impending sense of loss and a damaging familial past she recalls with deeply mixed emotions. Montgomery's lyric and nuanced rendering of her love for her miscreant tribe has comic as well as tragic moments, but she steers clear of both sentimentality and New England stoicism, creating a tender portrait of modern death and real American families." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"What Montgomery does, uncannily well, is to catch how normal an alcoholic family feels when you're in the midst of it. Montgomery has wrung an engrossing book from her eccentric (at best) childhood and the journey of reconnection she and her brother and sister take in the wake of their father's terminal diagnosis....Montgomery's greatest gift is to be able to describe her family clearly and unsentimentally but without cruelty. That's what allows us to laugh with the Montgomerys but certainly not to laugh at them. They're much too compelling for that." O, The Oprah Magazine

Review:

"Most families have a black sheep. Montgomery's had a black hole — her mother, a frustrated performer and prodigious drunk. So imagine Montgomery's surprise when she is called home to mount a death watch — not for her Mumzy, but for her tight-lipped father, always something of a cipher for his children. Her memoir of a belatedly dutiful daughter, harrowing and inevitably heartbreaking, also manages to be scathingly funny." The Boston Globe

Review:

"This is not just another memoir of alcoholism and family dysfunction — this is the smartest, funniest, warmest, and most wicked of alcoholism and family dysfunction memoirs to come along in many years. Lee Montgomery paints flawed and aching people with a touching and lovely palette." Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

Review:

"A monster mother, a beloved father, a trio of grown siblings who reunite to deal with a death in the family. The Things Between Us is unflinching and absolutely as fascinating as it is sad. It's also a scathing attack on the practice of medicine in America today and a perhaps inadvertent plea for us to rethink the role of hospice and our dying process." Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life

Review:

"Montgomery has a lovely, straightforward, trustworthy style....There's no pretense of offering some grand lesson, other than love: Love as best as you can for as long as you can. That's all." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[T]ackles universal questions of love and loss without judgment or bitterness." Booklist

Review:

"Montgomery writes her memoir with precision and grace, showing how a parent's decline and ultimate death can unite a family and lead to self-discovery, forgiveness, and healing." Library Journal

Review:

"An immensely heartfelt book....What makes this memoir moving and memorable is that the love is firmly rooted in honesty, in a generous but still clear-sighted assessment of one family's struggles, alongside the closeness." Aimee Bender, author of Willful Creatures

Review:

"[P]erfectly captures a middle-aged rite of passage: returning home to help a parent die....[D]amn near perfect." Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

Synopsis:

The Montgomerys are among the last of a dying breed — New England WASPs who effortlessly combine repression, flamboyant eccentricity, and alcoholism. Fragmented by drink and dysfunction, the family has not assembled in more than a decade. But when Big Dad, the patriarch, is diagnosed with stomach cancer, the siblings return to their childhood home, Four Corner Farm, to help their parents navigate the specialists, treatment options, pain management, and, most difficult of all, their own anguish.

Big Dad has always moved carefully through life, taking responsibility for the farm, the cars, the house, and his wife. The irrepressible Mumzy, now in her late seventies, drinks her first gin each day at 8:45 a.m. and spends her time singing jazz standards and reliving the glory days when she rescued horses from the now defunct hunt club. Prickly and proud, the two have always tried to keep their chins up, but Big Dad's cancer rattles their formidable denial.

Montgomery's stunning memoir vividly evokes the often unspoken bonds between family members — bonds made of memory, love, and disappointment. Heartbreaking, lyrical, and frequently hilarious, The Things Between Us hums with a sense of wonder as the author discovers anew the most familiar people in her life, herself among them.

About the Author

Lee Montgomery is the editorial director of Tin House Books and executive editor of Tin House, a literary magazine. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Story Magazine, Black Clock, Denver Quarterly, and The Iowa Review. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

1. Lunatics

Framingham, Massachusetts

2. The Garden

October 1998, Framingham, Massachusetts

3. Fury

1965, Framingham, Massachusetts

4. Wanderings

October 1998, Framingham, Massachusetts

5. The Diagnosis

October 1998, Boston, Massachusetts

6. Surgery

November 1998, Boston, Massachusetts

7. Miracles

Summer 1997, Framingham, Massachusetts

8. Recovery

November 1998, Framingham, Massachusetts

9. Thanksgiving

November 1998, Framingham, Massachusetts

10. Long Winter

February 1999, Portland, Oregon

11. Chemotherapy

March 1999, Framingham, Massachusetts

12. Escapes

May 1999, Portland, Oregon

13. Love Story

May 1999, Framingham, Massachusetts

14. Hands

May 1999, Framingham, Massachusetts

15. Floating

Memorial Day, 1999, Stevenson, Washington

16. Night

June 7, 1999, Framingham, Massachusetts

17. Ends

Tuesday, June 8, 1999

18. Fireflies

Tuesday, June 8, Framingham, Massachusetts

Product Details

ISBN:
9781416543107
Publisher:
Free Press
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Author:
Montgomery, Lee
Subject:
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20070731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 8.33 oz

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Related Subjects


Biography » General
Health and Self-Help » Recovery and Addiction » Adult Children
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Biographies
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs

The Things between Us: A Memoir Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Free Press - English 9781416543107 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In her bittersweet memoir of her father's death from metastatic stomach cancer, Montgomery (editor of Tin House magazine) charts the rough terrain of her eccentric New England family life and explores the trauma it took to reunite her dysfunctional family. Montgomery's mother is a falling-down drunk who has gin for breakfast; her gentleman farmer father, Big Dad, ignores his wife's alcoholism. The author's sister, Lael, and brother, Bob, are nine and six years her senior: Montgomery feels as if she grew up solo, in a different world than they. Escaping harsh realities is a family trait and none of the family has spent so much as a holiday together in more than a decade before Big Dad's news, when they all, reluctantly, come home. Montgomery skillfully shifts her narrative between the harrowing dailiness of her father's yearlong illness, her mother's escalating drunkenness, her own impending sense of loss and a damaging familial past she recalls with deeply mixed emotions. Montgomery's lyric and nuanced rendering of her love for her miscreant tribe has comic as well as tragic moments, but she steers clear of both sentimentality and New England stoicism, creating a tender portrait of modern death and real American families." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "What Montgomery does, uncannily well, is to catch how normal an alcoholic family feels when you're in the midst of it. Montgomery has wrung an engrossing book from her eccentric (at best) childhood and the journey of reconnection she and her brother and sister take in the wake of their father's terminal diagnosis....Montgomery's greatest gift is to be able to describe her family clearly and unsentimentally but without cruelty. That's what allows us to laugh with the Montgomerys but certainly not to laugh at them. They're much too compelling for that."
"Review" by , "Most families have a black sheep. Montgomery's had a black hole — her mother, a frustrated performer and prodigious drunk. So imagine Montgomery's surprise when she is called home to mount a death watch — not for her Mumzy, but for her tight-lipped father, always something of a cipher for his children. Her memoir of a belatedly dutiful daughter, harrowing and inevitably heartbreaking, also manages to be scathingly funny."
"Review" by , "This is not just another memoir of alcoholism and family dysfunction — this is the smartest, funniest, warmest, and most wicked of alcoholism and family dysfunction memoirs to come along in many years. Lee Montgomery paints flawed and aching people with a touching and lovely palette."
"Review" by , "A monster mother, a beloved father, a trio of grown siblings who reunite to deal with a death in the family. The Things Between Us is unflinching and absolutely as fascinating as it is sad. It's also a scathing attack on the practice of medicine in America today and a perhaps inadvertent plea for us to rethink the role of hospice and our dying process."
"Review" by , "Montgomery has a lovely, straightforward, trustworthy style....There's no pretense of offering some grand lesson, other than love: Love as best as you can for as long as you can. That's all."
"Review" by , "[T]ackles universal questions of love and loss without judgment or bitterness."
"Review" by , "Montgomery writes her memoir with precision and grace, showing how a parent's decline and ultimate death can unite a family and lead to self-discovery, forgiveness, and healing."
"Review" by , "An immensely heartfelt book....What makes this memoir moving and memorable is that the love is firmly rooted in honesty, in a generous but still clear-sighted assessment of one family's struggles, alongside the closeness."
"Review" by , "[P]erfectly captures a middle-aged rite of passage: returning home to help a parent die....[D]amn near perfect."
"Synopsis" by , The Montgomerys are among the last of a dying breed — New England WASPs who effortlessly combine repression, flamboyant eccentricity, and alcoholism. Fragmented by drink and dysfunction, the family has not assembled in more than a decade. But when Big Dad, the patriarch, is diagnosed with stomach cancer, the siblings return to their childhood home, Four Corner Farm, to help their parents navigate the specialists, treatment options, pain management, and, most difficult of all, their own anguish.

Big Dad has always moved carefully through life, taking responsibility for the farm, the cars, the house, and his wife. The irrepressible Mumzy, now in her late seventies, drinks her first gin each day at 8:45 a.m. and spends her time singing jazz standards and reliving the glory days when she rescued horses from the now defunct hunt club. Prickly and proud, the two have always tried to keep their chins up, but Big Dad's cancer rattles their formidable denial.

Montgomery's stunning memoir vividly evokes the often unspoken bonds between family members — bonds made of memory, love, and disappointment. Heartbreaking, lyrical, and frequently hilarious, The Things Between Us hums with a sense of wonder as the author discovers anew the most familiar people in her life, herself among them.

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