Wednesday, June 5, 2013

If Only One or Both of My Parents Had Been Insane

"Chanel Bonfire, A Memoir" by Wendy Lawless   Gallery Books   295 pages   $25

Lawless and her younger sister lived a fairly tumultous life with their clinically insane mother.  She was markedly not interested in either daughter and fancied herself quite the seductress.  In her mink coat, cigarette holder glowing, she cut quite a swath across New York, the Hamptons and London. 

The mother emerged to an apartment in The Dakota, one of New York's toniest addresses, from a trailer park via her beauty.  She was prone to drama and suffered numerous "nervous breakdowns" in various asylums as well as suicide attempts.  Lawless struggled to hide what was really going on at home which nearly drove her crazy, too. 

Okay, here is the explanation for the title - you can cash in on them when you are safely an adult.  Especially if you are a writer with any talent at all.  (And I may be flattering myself here...)

Here's an example:

"My Dad always went on a bender on Saturday nights.  He wasn't very dangerous because he was more interested in berating my mother than me.  It was Sunday mornings that I had to be wary.  When he finally did get out of bed, it was with the Mother and Father of all hangovers.  The slightest look could set him off and he would rummage in the knife drawer in the kitchen and come after me, bellowing with rage.  Sine he was somewhat crippled from a childhood bout with polio and not moving any too well anyhow, due to the hangover, he was easy to elude.  I thought of it as Sunday exercise more than anything else.  It was handy on rainy Sunday mornings.

The real truth:  My mother served Sunday breakfast to us, dressed in our Methodist church garb, and we all went to Sundaqy School and then church where I sat between them and Daddy drew rabbits and cats on the program to amuse me. 

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