Thursday 8 February 2024

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home

Finished February 3
I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore

This is a very unusual book. It is part letters from one sister to another, dating from the years shortly after the U.S. Civil War, and part modern day tale of a Chicago-area teacher struggling with loss. 
The book begins with a undated letter from Elizabeth to her unnamed sister. It tells of everyday events, include the nature that she witnesses, the male lodger in her home that is wooing her, the state of her finances, and visits from the local minister. She also invokes shared memories of earlier points in their lives. From the contents, and the words used, the reader can tell that this is a letter from a past time, and that it is not too long after the end of the Civil War. 
The next section is set in the present, as Finn moves through New York City to visit his older brother Max, who is in a hospice. We see not only what is happening as Finn sees it, but also his thoughts, which range from issues with his landlady and interactions with his Airbnb host to things he is reminded of by the sights and smells of the world around him. 
Once he gets in to his brother's room, the interaction between the brothers is also mingled with Finn's thoughts and observations. 
When Finn is called away by another crisis the book takes a turn for the surreal, and we begin to be unsure what is real and what isn't. We see Finn's personal issues, including the complicated love he has for Lily a woman he lived with for many years. 
Interspersed with Finn's story are the letters, and we eventually see the connections between them and his story. 
This is a novel of loss, of death, of how people deal with losing someone they care about, and about the uncertainty of life itself. 

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