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We Still Have the Telephone

We Still Have the Telephone

9781739778309
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My mother and I have been writing her obituary. We have been working on it for several years now. Before we started, she had already begun the project with my older sister. She wants to get it right. We Still Have the Telephone describes a life laid out in detail. In a mosaic portrait, Erica Van Horn assembles fragments of past and present. From the fuzziness of the line between eccentricity and madness, a singular everywoman emerges, whose immutable rituals exist on a par with an irrepressible anarchy. ‘In a work as personal and universal as that of her fellow American writer-artist Joe Brainard’s, Van Horn focuses on the small but revealing particulars of a remarkable character; the loves, the hates, and the obsessions. Told, as only Van Horn can, with unaffected, yet sympathetic, candour, grace, and humour, the result is a subtle affirmation of the familial — the personalities and relationships, the memories, and the tensions that make all of us who and what we are.’ – Ross Hair, author of Avant-Folk ‘For a story that takes as its starting point the ongoing task of writing the obituary for its protagonist, this is a remarkably (and for Van Horn, characteristically) unsentimental book. Like mother like daughter: both abhor waste. Gathered here are ‘details’ that are unlikely to find their way into the final draft of the obituary. These document some of the mother’s rituals, preferences, and characteristic way with things, including eggs, envelopes, coins, clocks, calendars, Broadway musicals, and the United Nations. We read these through the tender, amused, exasperated gaze of the daughter, and the wry observational style that makes Van Horn’s writing such a delight.’ – Dr Julie Bates, Trinity College Dublin ‘A masterpiece in simplicity and acute observation. I laughed, smiled and was utterly beguiled. And something deeper... a perfect gem.’  Keggie Carew, on Erica Van Horn’s By Bus