In November we're publishing Mark Lyons' memoir Homing, a book that defies our trove of adjectives. Even a thesaurus doesn't help much: "compelling" is too trite; "devastating" too vague; "powerful" too dull. Here's the description we've managed to cobble together:
In this heart-twisting memoir, a teen boy is the object of his mother’s deep sexual urges. Does it cross the line into abuse? Is he responsible for her frequent retreats to mental hospitals? Can he ever forgive her? The son needs most of a lifetime to unravel, then free himself from, the mysteries of her demise.
Fourteen-year-old Mark Lyons awakens to his mother screaming at his father, threatening to tell the children her darkest secrets, including her sexual obsession with her son. The “Black Dog” soon drives her to mental hospitals, electroshock therapy, and addiction. Some days Mark is banished from home to avoid setting her off. He finds sanctuary in the greasy garage of his friend Richie and in training his pigeons to circle home to their roost. At seventeen Mark flees his home, but he never really escapes. As an adult he contends with guilt and rage and a profound fear of loving. Decades later, after circling back home time and again to reclaim his childhood, he finds a way toward peace and forgiveness.
The genre, memoir, is a departure for us, since we've previously devoted our energies to fiction. This is a book, though, that uses fictional techniques to great effect: imagery, time shifts, odd juxtapositions, inventive syntax. It also displays (which we somehow didn't manage to say in our description) a brilliant sense of place, creating a vivid portrait of Southern California in the late 1950s. If you never had the chance to cruise a rebuilt '49 Studee to the Long Beach Pike, this book will take you there.
Most of all, it's the tale of the author's lifelong quest to overcome early trauma. And it's a success story. We dearly need success stories, don't we? Watch for this one in November.