Excerpt from Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Getting Mother's Body

by Suzan-Lori Parks

Getting Mother's Body
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  • First Published:
    May 2003, 272 pages
    Apr 2004, 288 pages

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"Laz is just Laz," I says.

"His daddy runs the funeral home but Laz ain't never gonna be running shit," Snipes says, laughing hard and squeezing my hand to get me to laugh too and I laugh till his squeezing hurts and I make him let go.

"Today's Wednesday, ain't it?" Snipes says. He looks down the road, seeing his upcoming appointments in his head. "I'm free towards the end of the week. Let's get married on Friday."


"Friday's the day," he says, taking out his billfold. He peeks the money part open with his pointer and thumb, then he feathers the bills, counting. His one eyebrow lifts up, surprised.

"That's what you call significant," he says.


"What year is it?"

" 'Sixty-three."

"And here I got sixty-three dollars in my billfold," he says smiling.

He pinches the bills out, folding them single-handed. He reaches over to me, lifting my housedress away from my brassiere and tucking the sixty-three dollars down between my breasts.

"Get yrself a wedding dress and some shoes and a one-way bus ticket."

"I'ma go to Jackson's Formal."

"Get something pretty. Come up to Texhoma tomorrow. We can do it Friday."

"You gonna get down on yr knee and ask me?"

"You come up tomorrow and I'll get down on my knee in front of my sister and her kids and ask you to marry me. Hell, I'll get down on both knees. Then we can do it Friday."

"How bout today you meet Aunt June and Uncle Teddy?" I says.

"Today I gotta go to Midland," he says.

"It'll only take a minute."

"I don't got a minute," he says. He looks at me. He got lips like pillows. "Have em come to Texhoma Friday. They can watch us get married. I'll meet em then."

"When they come up you gotta ask me to marry you on yr knees in front of them too," I says. "They'd feel left out if they didn't see it since you'll be asking me in front of yr sister and her kids and yr mother and dad—"

"My mother and dad won't be making it," Snipes says.

"How come?"

"They's passed," he says. He starts up the car, turning it around neatly and pulling it into the road, heading back towards Lincoln. On Friday my new name will be Mrs. Clifton Snipes.

"I was ten when Willa Mae passed," I says.

"Willa Mae who?"

"Willa Mae Beede. My mother," I says.

Snipes takes his hand off the wheel to scratch his crotch. His foot is light on the gas pedal. There's a story about my mother. All these months I been seeing Snipes, I didn't know whether or not he'd heard it. Now I can tell he has.

Excerpted from Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks Copyright© 2003 by Suzan-Lori Parks. Excerpted by permission of Random House, 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.

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