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First Fiction Fridays: My Grandmother’s Pill by Lisa Pike
A story of mean drunks and happy ones, and of the women who often outlive them, My Grandmother’s Pill is a rollercoaster ride through three generations of abuse and addiction from Lisa Pike and Guerinca Editions.
My Grandmother’s Pill (Guernica Editions, 2014)
Lisa Pike completed her MA in English & Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Policeman’s Alley.
Why you need to read this now:
A story of mean drunks and happy ones, and of the women who often outlive them, My Grandmother’s Pill is a rollercoaster ride through three generations of abuse and addiction. Set in Toronto, with flashbacks to Windsor and Detroit, this serious, but often humorous, narrative portrays the abuse of sedative drugs and alcohol, accompanied by slow cognitive dissolution.
On the heels of divorce, Maude’s relationship with Seamus sets the scene for her struggle to break free. My Grandmother’s Pill is an intense, microscopic account of an alcoholic relationship between Seamus and Maude, who are caught up in inter-generational patterns of addiction. Reflecting the often moment-by-moment experience of living with addiction, the novel is organized according to a series of these chronological and emotional moments rather than a series of thematic or developmental chapters.
The format seeks to reproduce, to some extent, the intense, minute-by-minute experience of the alcoholic and of the person trying to "manage" or control the alcoholic’s drinking. Insofar as it juxtaposes differing emotional moments of the different characters, the format also reinforces the inter-generational aspect of the novel: the dynamics of a present-day relationship are attempted, through the character of Maude, to be understood in relation to broader family histories. Pike scrutinizes the personal embarrassments, ephemeral joys, financial struggles, and eventual ruptures of dysfunctional relationships.
"My Grandmother’s Pill weaves a compelling tale of the pasts we carry with us across the generations and of the mistakes we learn from and those we seem doomed to repeat. Lisa Pike writes with humour, with insight, and with grace." – Nino Ricci
Many thanks to Cristina Rizzuto at Guernica Editions for sharing My Grandmother’s Pill with us.