Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks

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Billy Beede, the teenage daughter of the fast-running, no-account, and six-years-dead Willa Mae, comes home one day to find a fateful letter waiting for her: Willa Mae’s burial spot in LaJunta, Arizona, is about to be plowed up to make way for a supermarket.

As Willa Mae’s only daughter, Billy is heiress to her mother’s substantial but unconfirmed fortune—a cache of jewels that Willa Mae’s lover, Dill Smiles, is said to have buried with her. Dirt poor, living in a trailer with her Aunt June and Uncle Roosevelt behind a gas station in a tumbleweedy Texas town, and pregnant with an illegitimate child, Billy knows that treasure could mean salvation. So she steals Dill’s pickup truck and, with her aunt and uncle in tow, heads for Arizona with Dill in hot pursuit. While everyone agrees it’s only polite to speak of getting mother’s body and moving her to a proper resting place, it’s well understood that digging up Willa Mae’s diamonds and pearls will make the whole trip a lot more worthwhile.

The enormously accomplished fiction debut from Suzan-Lori Parks, the 2002 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Getting Mother’s Body takes its place in the company of the classic works of Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker. But when it comes to an ingenious, uproarious knack for depicting the trifling, hard-luck, down-and-out souls who need a little singing and laughing and lying and praying to get through the day, Suzan-Lori Parks shares the stage with no one.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Suzan-Lori Parks

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Suzan-Lori Parks is a novelist, playwright, songwriter, and screenwriter. She was the recipient of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/ Underdog, as well as a 2001 MacArthur "genius grant." Her other plays include Fucking A, In the Blood, The America Play, Venus, and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World. Her first feature film, Girl 6, was directed by Spike Lee. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she studied with James Baldwin, she has taught creative writing in universities across the country, including at the Yale School of Drama, and she heads the Dramatic Writing Program at CalArts. She is currently writing an adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel Paradise for Oprah Winfrey, and the musical Hoopz for Disney. She lives in Venice Beach, California, with her husband, blues musician Paul Scher, and their pit bull, Lambchop.From the Hardcover edition.
Published May 6, 2003 by Random House. 282 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Parenting & Relationships. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Getting Mother's Body

Publishers Weekly

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Audio reviews reflect PW's assessment of the audio adaptation of a book and should be quoted only in reference to the audio version.FictionGETTING MOTHER'S BODYSuzan-Lori Parks, read by the author.

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Publishers Weekly

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Billy steals Dill's truck and, together with her aunt and uncle, embarks on a trip to Arizona to find her mother's body, her mother's treasure and her mother's memory.

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Entertainment Weekly

The life of a Negro gal with a baby in her belly and no ring on her finger is cheaper.'' Legend has it that her dead mother, Willa Mae, shares a coffin with a bounty of jewels.

May 09 2003 | Read Full Review of Getting Mother's Body

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