small Jennifer-GilmoreYour own experiences going through an open adoption have informed The Mothers.  Why do you think people keep asking you this?

I think people are obsessed with reading fiction as truth. I would count my family in this category , as well as my friends. Anyone who knows a writer is looking for the reality, for themselves, as if it is a puzzle. As if novelists have no imaginations.  But there is logic to this, as fiction writers tend to take what can be our own experiences—even if it’s just what interests us as people–and grow them into fiction. And so there is a reason I did not write a primer on adoption, or, more realistically, a memoir about my experience.

The_Mothers_Jennifer_GilmoreWe were headed for the Verrazano Bridge, caught in traffic. It was several weeks before Thanksgiving, which I remember because there was a massive billboard hanging from a crumbling brick building off the highway in Sunset Park. It depicted an enormous cartoon turkey standing, feathers unfurled, on a dining room table, a family of six seated around it.

Though we were well into fall, the heat and gas from the cars rose up in waves; looking out it could have been a summer day, except for the trees lining the blocks off the highway, their branches reaching up, sky slipping through brittle claws. Ramon’s hands were tight on the steering wheel. And Harriet, sweet Harriet, sat behind me, panting in my ear.

“Honey.” I reached back to calm her. “Settle down, darling.”


Not Everyone Carried Marbles

August 25, 1979

It was hot as hell and Sharon Goldstein knew everyone had to be positively sweltering out back. Her mother was especially intolerant of humidity and boastful that Los Angeles, the paradise that she and her husband had been wrested away from to come here, to Washington, did not make its inhabitants bear such humiliating conditions. ( What about earthquakes, Nana? Vanessa had said yesterday, but Helen had waved her away.) It was only six o’clock and already the cicadas were screaming.

What would you do if you had any skills to do something else?

I’d be an activist, true and blue, like the older characters in my book, but with current concerns. I went to the rally for Planned Parenthood, Title X, in NYC last weekend and listening to all the speakers, I thought, that is what I should have been. But of course, I am only a little bit that. And of course, just as when an attorney says she should take two months off to writer her novel, well, it takes a little more than wishing.