Snapshots: 20th Century Mother-Daughter Fiction

By Janet Berliner; Joyce Carol Oates | Go to book overview

Everything Old Is New Again

JANET BERLINER

"THANK YOU for coming. "Yes, brunch was a good idea, wasn't it? Thank you for coming. "We'll get together soon."

"Thank you for --" -- Leaving. Thank you for leaving. Don't call me, I'll call you.Jenny shut the door, leaned against it, and stared at the label on the last of her birthday gifts, the one still wrapped, the one she'd steadfastly pushed to the end of the line, like the pumpkin people inevitably insisted upon piling onto her Thanksgiving dinner plate.

The parcel was from her mother. At eighty, her handwriting remained clean and firm. Old Doll it said next to Contents. Value: Zero.

Like me, Jenny thought. Value: Zero. Contents: Old.

"Everything Old Is New Again," Peter Allen sang at her from her stereo set. She removed one fashionable black high-heeled shoe and hurled it at the CD player, uncaring of the damage she might do, though of course she'd care later. She always cared later.

"Everything old is old and getting older, you sonofabitch," she said. Old or dead. Like Peter Allen who was dead, who had written the song as a tribute to , who was dead, too. Her face lived on in reruns, her voice in recordings. But she was dead just the same.

"Everything old is new again."

Jenny didn't sing along or think kindly of her friend Harlan whom she generally loved and who, seemingly a hundred years ago, had introduced her to the song. Instead, she drank the rest of her birthday champagne straight from the bottle, using it to swallow her last available dose of St. John's Wort, which was supposed to cure her depression but so far hadn't done a thing for her except make her

-228-

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Snapshots: 20th Century Mother-Daughter Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page III
  • Contents V
  • Foreword VII
  • Introduction IX
  • Wicked Girl 3
  • Consuelo's Letter 14
  • Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother 24
  • The Allies 39
  • Cleaning Up 49
  • La Lloradora 65
  • An Ordinary Woman 90
  • Girl 95
  • Solitude 97
  • How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes) 125
  • Kiswana Browne 134
  • A Rose in the Heart of New York 146
  • Mousetrap 174
  • Up Above Diamond City 185
  • Eveyday Use 195
  • Death Mother 204
  • Everything Old is New Again 228
  • Contributors' Notes 235
  • Copyright Acknowledgments 241
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