MAKING AN EXIT: A Mother-Daughter Drama with Alzheimer's, Machine Tools, and Laughter

Elinor Fuchs, Author . Holt/Metropolitan $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6317-2

Fuchs celebrates the richness and folly of life and language in this loving and often funny tribute to her nonconformist mother, Lillian Kessler. Born in 1908, Kessler attempted to take the well-paved path of a proper lady twice, first by attending Radcliffe and then by marrying an accomplished, high-society violinist. But she eventually forged her own way, getting divorced, leading WPA projects, entertaining suitors and business associates at lavish parties and ambitiously building the Kessler Corp., selling "spare parts"—all while first abandoning, then raising her daughter on her own. Displaced by her mother's self-important life, Fuchs didn't become a willing participant in this drama until disaster struck Kessler: first a heart attack and then Alzheimer's. Fuchs writes of navigating the heartbreaking vagaries of this debilitating disease together with her uncle and the caregivers at Kessler's assisted-living facility and, later, Kessler's nursing home, and how she found sympathy for her mother as she sought meaning in the mellifluous babble of their absurd conversations. Fuchs, a Yale School of Drama professor, places excerpts of these dialogues, scriptlike, between chapters as interludes that set the next scene and illuminate the inane intelligence of the demented mind. Never mawkish, this is a tender tale of an idiosyncratic, independent woman and her daughter's reluctant love. Agent, Tina Bennett. (Mar. 1)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 293 pages - 978-0-7862-7693-6
Paperback - 191 pages - 978-0-8050-8007-0
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