Thursday, January 26, 2006

Whose Story Is It? II

Woke up ridiculously early this morning--in part because our room is ridiculously cold & the comforter was all on Darling Husband's side of the bed. Couldn't get back to sleep, so I finished reading the ARC of a riveting memoir that reads like a novel. In fact, it is by a novelist. He describes in minute detail a tumultuous affair he had in the early 1960s with a woman who was pregnant (not by him) and how he helped her give the baby girl up for adoption. Decades later, the daughter tracks him down, assuming he was her father, and asks for help finding her mother. He gets back in touch with Mom, whom he gives a pseudonym, but describes her background, very public career and looks in minute detail. Mom doesn't want to see the daughter; in fact won't even acknowledge that she is indeed her mother, despite their striking resemblance. Basically Mom comes off as a hypocritical, manipulative, selfish bitch--the more so when it turns out that she lied to the author about her relationship with the guy who knocked her up.

Mom is very protective of her privacy. Her husband knows about the adoption but her kids don't. She complains that the author portrayed her poorly in his novels and tries to get him to promise that he won't write about her and the adoption, which he refuses to do, claiming that it's his story too. Fair enough.

BUT...

Within 10 minutes, using just two short phrases from a newspaper quote about Mom, I discovered her real name, which contains an anagram of the pseudonym. Just to be sure it was her, I searched Google Image. Bingo! Gotta give the author kudos for physical description--though he neglected to point out Mom's amazing resemblance to Geena Davis. (However, he did mention that Daughter's new husband looks like Benicio Del Toro.)

SO...
Whose story is it? Is the author right to have outed Mom? Despite her odious behavior, should he have omitted some details in order to keep her identity secret?

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

Oh that's good! You have me thinking now...

Susan said...

Wow! I am all over this... because I'm also writing an adoption memoir about a birthmother who does not want to be outed. And trying to figure out how to pull it off; how to tell My Story without spilling Her Beans.

Susan said...

I am also DYING to know WHO IT IS.

Bella Stander said...

Not anyone famous, unless you're a DC Beltway wonk.

It's odd: I was sucked in by the book and my sympathies were completely with the author all the way through. But as soon as I finished it, some things nagged at me. Why was he so coy about Mom's identity and angry about the invasion of his privacy early on, only to give her away (while pretending not to) by book's end? Methinks he protested too much about being Over Her.