cover image Tasha: A Son’s Memoir

Tasha: A Son’s Memoir

Brian Morton. Avid Reader, $27 (224p) ISBN 978-1-982178-93-2

The tumultuous bond between a mother and son animates this unstinting yet tender work from novelist Morton (Florence Gordon). When, after years of “successfully [keeping] her at arm’s length,” Morton’s mother’s worsening dementia forced the two of them to reconnect, Morton aired his frustrations on paper. While he confesses to satirizing his difficult and “voluble Jewish mother” in his novel, The Dylanist, he offers a more nuanced look here at the woman who believed “the people she loved were depriving her.” Morton details how his octogenarian mother, Tasha—once a sharp-witted New Jersey teacher—slowly lost her memory, and how he and his sister struggled to find her care in the process (“We got the names of people who could supposedly guide us... but it turned out that they too were working in the dark”). Despite Tasha’s obstinacy—which only grew as her health declined—Morton describes her antics with measured compassion and gallows humor. Contemplating her last words—“Go to hell.... I hate you”—he crafts an imagined deathbed monologue for Tasha, a single-sentence two-page tour de force that paints her complexities in a humanizing light (“Who I was is just too much for you,” she explains). Part gut-punch comedy, part eulogy, this tribute is dazzling. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner. (Apr.)