Excerpt from Memoirs of a Muse by Lara Vapnyar, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Memoirs of a Muse

A Novel

by Lara Vapnyar

Memoirs of a Muse
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2006, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Nice and cool," she commented.

The tears gushed out of my eyes, while my whole body shook with laughter. "You’re cute like that, Ba," I said. "You’re funny."

ChaptNr Two Iwasn’t home when my grandmother died. I had gone to my friend Lida’s house in the country for two weeks, and the date of my return coincided with the date of the funeral. I didn’t even have to cut short my vacation. Convenient timing, Lida’s mother commented when my mother called.

My mother told me the news on the phone. Your grandmother died. It didn’t sound shocking. I knew that it would happen. I had gotten used to the thought. I didn’t think it would change anything.

During the five years of her illness, my grandmother’s condition was slowly slipping. And the two last years she’d spent in a state not much different from a coma. The sane, medium-crazy, and crazy days were long gone. There were no more stories, no more frightening, wet eyes, no more wandering with a pillow. Even the chair became useless after a while. The potty had been replaced with a bedpan, the cup with a baby bottle, the pills with a syringe. My chores had become so mechanical that I barely noticed them. On coming home from school, I had to change a sheet, give my grandmother a drink, then give her the bedpan and apply ointment to her bedsores. I always wondered why the skin on her back was so soft. Everything else crumpled like used wrapping paper, but the skin on her back stayed perfectly smooth and tender, just like my own, even more delicate than my own. And it seemed that the skin on her back was the only part of her that reacted to the outside world. It usually became irritated and broke into annoying, wet sores, but at least it was something. The rest of her didn’t react at all. She didn’t try to communicate. Her eyes were open, but she never looked at me. I wasn’t sure if she recognized me. I didn’t feel that there was another living person in the house when I sat in my room doing my homework or reading a book. I felt that I was left alone or with a strange big doll that required changing and feeding and sometimes made tiny, quiet whimpers that didn’t mean anything.

My reaction upon hearing my mother’s announcement was, "Oh, so it did happen after all."

Just as I had expected, I didn’t find any drastic changes when I came home from my vacation. The apartment had always seemed a little different at the end of a summer: the ceiling seemed lower or higher than I’d remembered, the rooms emptier or more cluttered, the bed softer, the armchair firmer. I couldn’t tell whether the differences were real or imaginary. Now, when I saw on my return that my grandmother’s bed was empty and her table/toilet chair was covered with a piece of cloth, I had to struggle to remember if they had really looked different before I left. I caught myself being disturbed by the fact that death wasn’t anything extravagant. She had just disappeared. She used to be there, and then she wasn’t there anymore. Not that she was anywhere else. She wasn’t even buried in the ground. She’d been cremated, turned into nothing.

My uncle sat by the phone with his plump notebook, calling everybody he knew, saying a formal, "My mother has ended." Ended. As if she were a book or a movie.

Excerpted from Memoirs of a Muse by Lara Vapnyar Copyright © 2006 by Lara Vapnyar. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood
    Bryn Greenwood's debut, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, is a harsh, raw, and ultimately, truthful...
  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Ashes of Fiery Weather
    by Kathleen Donohoe

    "Admirers of Pete Hamill and Kate Atkinson will appreciate this gripping novel." - Library Journal

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.