Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Dying Mother

A Short Story By Kelly Lundgren Pietrucha
Reviewed By Susanne MacDougall

A mother calls her daughter every day to remind her that she is still dying and hangs up. This is the entrance to a story about the complexity of a mother-daughter relationship coming to an end, reduced to persistent, eerie calls and obligatory hospital visits.

The opening paragraph is gripping, but the story itself struggles to live up to those first few lines even with its interesting language and concise dialogue.

We follow the daughter on her way to the hospital and end up in a decrepit hospital room where the dying mother insists on retelling a story that the daughter already knows. The mother insists that the previous version was a lie. We don’t know which is the truth but the retelling, which involves a man named Peter, is definitely more interesting than the first.

Is this new telling really about Peter or the mother? Is it deathbed truth telling or just another elaborate lie to cover a sad life? Does it really matter? For me this is the core of the short story. We all know how time changes life’s stories. The question left unanswered is why.

Pietrucha’s language is vivid and the exchanges between mother and daughter engaging. The topic is grim but filled with the familiar ironies of life. The storyteller takes us on a on a bumpy ride, much like the ride the main character is on with the dying mother. Overall it is a good, solid read.

ePublisher: Carve Magazine

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