Aftermath’s Family

Blue_seat back_2013-04-23

2013-04-24 – I’m interested in aftermaths. But they are a tense topic. I’ve got one aftermath in my novel Cain’s Mother-in-Law. So, in preparing for my search for a publisher, I’ve read some other aftermath literature, particularly aftermaths of a biblical nature.

One such novel is The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín, which considers the passion of Christ as seen through the eyes of his mother. I was debating whether to write about this book here because I was disappointed. I was expecting a fairly radical retelling of the story, but didn’t feel I got one. To me, Mary’s feelings about the unfolding events at the end of her son’s life never seemed to rise above unease. You’d think a mother’s feelings would be stronger. Instead we get a rehash of the story of the gospels.

If you want to see the sort of story I expected, take a look at the stories about the family of the Boston Marathon bombers and their reactions.

Now, I am not in any way comparing Jesus to Suspect #1 and Suspect #2. I am just talking about families in pain. In both cases the families had sons who were criminals in their societies and killed because of it. So, not only did the sons die brutal deaths, but society was not available to provide comfort—just the opposite. Any available sympathy came strictly from outcasts.

The pain of the Tsarnaev family is palpable, contradictory, and even a little embarrassing. Of course, it is filtered through lawyers, but, in spite of that fact, all the different reactions of the different family members seem human.

The Mary of Tóibín’s book is tepid by comparison. Where is the anger, the grief, the denial, or even the transcendence? I don’t see it. Wouldn’t you think that Mary would have felt something stronger than disliking the crowd her son chilled with? I enjoyed reading the book as a fan of this type of literature, but I didn’t get the real payoff.


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