I met Lori Horvitz several years ago at an artists’ residency, where she was writing this book, then tentatively called “Dating My Mother.” She read the title piece, about her recent break-up with a woman whose eccentric restaurant behavior rivaled that of Lori’s mother, who once responded to a bug in a bowl of soup by saying, “It’s pepper. Just eat it.” The piece was sad, not only because it was about a failed romantic relationship but because the mother in the title died young, when Lori was in her early twenties. I was moved by Lori’s struggle on the page to disentangle herself from a dysfunctional way of paying homage to her mother by unconsciously choosing to date women who resembled her.
In the hands of a skilled writer like Horvitz, such dark material has tremendous comic potential. At the artists’ residency reading, we fellows laughed so hard we were almost in tears. When I say Horvitz is funny, I don’t just mean she is witty or playful with words or cleverly amusing (though she is those things, too). I mean she is David Sedaris-level funny, especially when she writes about her early youth.
Read my full essay, published in The Nervous Breakdown, here.