* A brilliant, touching and desperately funny portrait of an American family in all its glorious oddity
Donald Antrim's mother Louanne was a difficult woman: an operatically suicidal, chainsmoking, delusional alcoholic who even when sober believed that her cat Merlin was a descendant of the Arthurian necromancer. Seeing his own life bound up in her relentless deterioration, Donald Antrim embarks on this strange, marvellous memoir in an attempt to make sense of his mother and her legacy.
A series of tragic-comic adventures in psychological dysfunction, Antrim's personal journey takes him wandering across the Southern states of America, tracing the bust-ups, reconciliations, and migrations of his warring parents. Gradually he unpicks the stories of his childhood, and the characters: his handsome sportsman uncle; his hardworking, bewildered Episcopalian grandparents; and his mother herself - alarming, melodramatic, manipulative, reckless and brave. This is a vivid, unmissable Technicolor slideshow of a memoir.
** 'I read Donald Antrim's THE AFTERLIFE with admiration. This must have been a difficult book to write ... but he performs the dance artfully. Formally perfect, filled with grace, wit and the only sort of love that's worth offering - PETER CAREY, Irish Times Books of the Year
An account of family tragedy lifted by stark beauty and dark humour - INDEPENDENT
** 'Shocking, hilarious, painful; Louanne, the mammy, is no longer breathing, but she's still there, in every word. A bad ma, but a great, great book - RODDY DOYLE, Irish Times Books of the Year
** 'A mesmerising, novelistic story of a dysfunctional childhood ... THE AFTERLIFE unfolds with precision, bounded by structural elegance and masterful pacing. It is an intensely personal, admirable act of remembrance; a wry pilgrimage made powerful by the - DAILY TELEGRAPH