The Center of the Universe: A Memoir

Nancy Bachrach, Author . Knopf $24.95 (234p) ISBN 978-0-307-27090-0

Piquant and ribald, Bachrach's debut memoir about her dotty mother from Providence, R.I., revolves around the accidental gassing accident aboard her parents' boat in 1983 that left her father dead of exhaust asphyxiation and her mother with severe brain damage. The author was then a 33-year-old advertising executive working in Paris on a new (ultimately doomed) campaign to introduce antiperspirant to the French, when she rushed back to the U.S. at the behest of her two professional siblings, expecting a double funeral but finding her tenacious, irrepressible 56-year-old mother, Lola, emerging from a coma. Widowed, confused and mis-medicated, Lola was not expected to recover from her carbon-monoxide poisoning, but her long-suffering children knew better, having endured a long history of Lola's erratic, flamboyant, bipolar yo-yoing requiring years of psychiatry, shock treatment and hospitalization. Over time her aphasia, echolalia, catatonia and incontinence amazingly do turn around, but Lola is ever a force to be reckoned with, the granddaughter of a prominent Rhode Island rabbi, molested in her youth, lustily married to so-called Mr. Fix It (also the name of the boat, which he incorrectly rewired, causing the release of gas vapors that killed him) and gamely re-marriageable (“Men are like buses,” she maintained, lining up another husband: “Miss one, hop on another”). Bachrach's prose is wry, risky, and feels like she has found her moment at last. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Show other formats
Paperback - 241 pages - 978-0-307-45541-3
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-20246-7
Open Ebook - 158 pages - 978-0-307-27197-6
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.