Mary Gordon Reads from 'Circling My Mother' Gordon's best-selling novels have been celebrated as much for the precision of her language as for her powers of observation; here, she reflects on her mother's life — and her death after suffering with dementia.

Mary Gordon Reads from 'Circling My Mother'

Hear Mary Gordon read from and discuss the book.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/13879586/13982258" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The ideas behind Mary Gordon's Circling My Mother grew out of a pair of art-gallery experiences — and a chance airport encounter with her mother's favorite perfume. Emma Dodge Hanson hide caption

toggle caption
Emma Dodge Hanson

Discussion Highlight

On Being 'The Third-Greatest Writer in America,' According to Mom

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/13879586/13982824" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Book Tour is a new Web feature and podcast. Each week we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Mary Gordon's new memoir, Circling My Mother, chronicles how Gordon comes to terms with her mother's life and work — as a legal secretary on Long Island — and with her Roman Catholic faith. Gordon also meditates on her mother's death, which came after a long and difficult period of dementia.

Gordon's best-selling novels have been celebrated as much for the precision of her language as for her powers of observation. In this book chat, she reflects upon how the visual, and even the olfactory, help her convert sensation into prose.

If that reminds you of Proust and his famous madeleines, that may be because Proust is one of Gordon's literary heroes. In this podcast, Gordon also talks about the late-19th century French painter Pierre Bonnard, contrasting the experience of caring for her aging mother with that of Bonnard, who painted loving, unflinching, color-saturated portraits of his wife as she died from a long chronic illness.

This reading of Circling My Mother took place in August 2007 at the Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

Circling My Mother
By Mary Gordon

Buy Featured Book

Title
Circling My Mother
By
Mary Gordon

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?