Alice Adams wrote a sweet note to me after my first novel came out when I was 26, and I was so blown away that I sent her a bunch of stamps by return mail. I have no idea what I was thinking. It was a star-struck impulse.
I didn't write about my mother much in the third year after she died. I was still trying to get my argument straight: When her friends or our relatives wondered why I was still so hard on her, I could really lay out the case for what it had been like to be raised by someone who had loathed herself, her husband, even her own name.
I feel incredibly successful. I make a living as a writer and am able to help support a big family, my church, my bleeding-heart causes.
No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother's Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture's bad people and behavior.