The Afterlife by Donald Antrim
A Memoir

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From "a fiercely intelligent writer" (The New York Times), a wry, poignant story of the difficult love between a mother and a son

In the winter of 2000, shortly after his mother's death from cancer and malnourishment, Donald Antrim, author of the absurdist, visionary masterworks Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, The Hundred Brothers, and The Verificationist, began writing about his family. In pieces that appeared in The New Yorker and were anthologized in Best American Essays, Antrim explored

his intense and complicated relationships with his mother, Louanne, an artist and teacher who was, at her worst, a ferociously destabilized and destabilizing alcoholic; his gentle grandfather, who lived in the mountains of North Carolina and who always hoped to save his daughter from herself; and his father, who married Louanne twice.

The Afterlife is not a temporally linear coming-of-age memoir; instead, Antrim follows a logic of unconscious life, of dreams and memories, of fantasies and psychoses, the way in which the world of the alcoholic becomes a sleepless, atemporal world. In it, he comes to terms with--and fails to comes to terms with--the nature of addiction and the broken states of loneliness, shame, and loss that remain beyond his power to fully repair. This is a tender and even blackly hilarious portrait of a family--faulty, cracked, enraging. It is also the story of the way the author works, in part through writing this book, to become a man more fully alive to himself and to others, a man capable of a life in which he may never learn, or ever hope to know, the nature of his origins.


About Donald Antrim

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DONALD ANTRIM is the author of Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, The Hundred Brothers, and The Verificationist. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He lives in New York City.
Published May 15, 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 208 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Afterlife

The New York Times

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It is striking that, after the dedication ("for my mother") and an opening passage announcing Louanne's death (and the deaths of her parents), Antrim's first chapter quickly changes the subject: "With this is mind — the story of my mother and me, my mother in me — I will try to tell another story...

Jun 18 2006 | Read Full Review of The Afterlife: A Memoir

The Guardian

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The Afterlife by Donald Antrim 224pp, Little, Brown, £15.99 Few novelists write about madness as well as Donald Antrim.

Mar 31 2007 | Read Full Review of The Afterlife: A Memoir

USA Today

In these tragicomic essays written for The New Yorker and now gathered as a non-linear memoir, Antrim agonizes over his troubled relationship with his mother, a former beauty whose looks and life were ruined by alcoholism and then cancer, presumably brought on by years of smoking.

| Read Full Review of The Afterlife: A Memoir


To say that Antrim's gripping new book recounts the pain of having a ferociously alcoholic, violent, charismatic mother might make it sound like a conventional memoir.

Jun 05 2006 | Read Full Review of The Afterlife: A Memoir

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