Up front I would like to say that the author, Eileen Cronin, is a friend of mine. I met her at a literary conference in New Orleans and we smoked numerous cigarettes together while watching a smattering of literary luminaries behave badly in a hotel bar. We were both unpublished authors at the time and we took to one another immediately.
Earlier in the day I noticed that Eileen walked with some stiffness, something I can relate to having never completely recovered my easy gait after a bout with M.S. in my twenties. I asked her why her gait was stilted and told her why mine is gimpy when I’m tired or nervous or break my two drink maximum policy.
She revealed double prosthetic calves and feet below her skirt. She was born that way. “Did your mom take thalidomide?” I asked. She gave me a sidelong glance and said, “It’s a long story.” I was all ears.
Now you can be too because her memoir MERMAID has been published by that hallowed literary publisher Scribner. MERMAID is not an uncomfortable read about growing up physically handicapped. Eileen grew up in an enormous Catholic family in Cincinnati. Eileen has the best literary Catholic family I’ve read about since ANGELA’S ASHES. She has the best literary mother character since THE LIAR’S CLUB. Eileen’s prose is pitch perfect, humorous, heart wrenching, and at times surprising. I don’t want to give it away or pepper you with examples. I just want to share my two thumbs way up for this compelling memoir.
If you are a lover, writer, teacher, or fan of the genre, add MERMAID to your reading list. I implore you.