On this day in 2014, Ariel Gore’s memoir, The End of Eve, was published by Hawthorne Books.
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Gore explores a time in her life when everything seems okay: she has a stable home, is in a relationship with a woman, her oldest is in college, and her young son is in preschool. But when her mother, Eve, comes back into her life before her final days, Gore’s okay life turns difficult and nearly unbearable at a dizzying speed. As she navigates the lingering effects of trauma and abuse as well as relationships with her lover, daughter, and young son, Gore takes us on a journey where we learn that the definition that we’ve given closure doesn’t fit, and closure as a whole just may not exist.
A synopsis in quotes that I’ve underlined in my copy in non-chronological order:
“I didn’t know if the cure for my life was to lie to everyone about everything or to become brutally honest.”
“and I wondered all the ways abuse invents us.”
[…] but I didn’t know what to pray for. maybe God had enough trouble without worrying about what happened to us.
“In the morning, three dead birds huddled frozen on the front step.
The cold season was coming.
And I worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the birds that needed burying.”
“Don’t worry about me,” she finally said. “The devil takes care of his own.”
My old friend Teagan commented, Geeze, talk about out parents having no use for us the minute we’re not who they trained us to be.
All I had to do was keep my mouth shut for ten more minutes and I’d be free. Don’t say you’re sorry, Ariel.
“Don’t ever do that again. Thank me for doing something sweet for you.” She let go of me. “don’t ever thank anybody for acting right.”
She stared at me for a long time. “Promise.”
And I said, “All right. I promise.”
“Wouldn’t it be funny,” she laughed. “If I was that crazy?”
“Octavio, not every question cries out to be answered.”
“What am I doing here?” I opened to a random page, pointed to the middle and read, “What we are looking for is something small that we can use. This is all we need, a little bit, something that happened by chance, something common like a broken piece of glass, some string, a book of matches: just a small thing where there is nothing but what is here to find.”
He winked at me. “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not comin’ after you.”
Yes. This was the place for us.
Had she died? Not exactly. Was she healing? Probably not.
“Waiting for love is not love, even if we always call it that.”
“Evil doesn’t just happen, Tiniest. People don’t just fall into the earth like that. Evil is what we do to each other.” She closed her eyes. “It’s what we do.”
“I only had the person who would throw me into the fire to cling to. I understood that.”
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that death isn’t ugly.”
[…] “So we have to go back to it at some point –either literally or symbolically– to integrate whatever happened. We can do that consciously, in some safe way, or we’re destined to revisit the trauma over and over again as the violence of life.”
“Precisely how it ended is one of the things we don’t get to know.
“Abuse needs a witness […] if there’s to be any hope of healing.”
“you can’t ever know what happens between people”
I wasn’t sure we knew how to live, but maybe we were learning.
But that in the end, it isn’t so hard not to ruin everything we love.
Page numbers of quotes, respectively: 112, 103, 114, 107, 115.//119, 143.//128, 107, 229.//132, 131, 147, 174, 208, 207, 199.//210, 22, 210, 22, 227, 213.