Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me PDF Download review free
A daughter’s tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity.
On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me.
Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms.
Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.
From the Publisher
A Conversation with Adrienne Brodeur, author of WILD GAME
WILD GAME delves into your relationship with your complicated and charismatic mother, Malabar, and how she involved you in her extramarital affair starting when you were just fourteen. How did you know that now was the right time to tell your story?
The night my mother woke me up to tell me that she’d been kissed by my stepfather’s best friend, I was only fourteen and my life changed instantly. I went to bed as my mother’s daughter and I woke up as her best friend and confidante, soon becoming a co-conspirator in an epic love affair, participating in years of elaborate subterfuge, and not stopping to consider the consequences of my complicity. It took years to contemplate and process my story. Truthfully, I don’t think I was ready to tell it until now. It wasn’t for lack of trying.
As a teenager, I wrote about the situation in journals, and as an adult, I first tackled it in lighthearted personal essays, thinly veiled fiction, and a romantic comedy script. But there came a point in my life when it became clear that playing the story for laughs undermined the shame I felt, and the genuine pain I was in and had caused others.
I also became a parent in 2005, and knew that I did not want to mother as I had been mothered. To protect my children, I realized I had to reckon with my past, understand the effect of family secrets, and stop the pattern of trauma (of which my mother’s affair was not the only example) that existed in my family. Only then did I start to find the courage to confront my past head on, through memoir.
You’ve said that you didn’t want to write a Mommie Dearest. How is your mother-daughter story different?
The mother-daughter relationship in Mommie Dearest is black and white. There’s a villain and a victim, end of story. My goal with Wild Game was to explore the gray zone, the bits of villain and victim that reside in all of us. Early in the writing process, I read Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story and the following line stopped me cold: “For the drama to deepen, we must see the loneliness of the monster and the cunning of the innocent.” I taped that to my computer where I could consider it daily. My goal was to capture the truth of my relationship with my mother and write a nuanced book that explored our mutual humanity. In order to do that well, I couldn’t vilify my mother and protect myself. I had to examine the whole of it – her history, my history, and our dynamic – and write specifically and truthfully to create a universal story.
Can you talk a little bit about the title? Where did it come from?
Wild Game was the title of a proposed cookbook that my mother and her lover – both married – came up with as a ruse for their affair. My mother was an expert chef who had a food column in the Boston Globe and wrote many cookbooks, and her lover was an avid hunter and fisherman who traveled the world in pursuit of these activities.
The proposed wild game cookbook created a reason for the two couples to get together frequently: to test recipes. Her lover’s job was to provide the game – venison, wild boar, squab; my mother’s job was to create the feasts; and their unsuspecting spouses’ jobs were to critique the results. In this way, they were able to carry out their affair in plain view for over a decade.
Left: young Adrienne and her mother, Malabar
You’ve lived in New York, Boston, and California, but much of the book is set on Cape Cod, where you’ve spent many summers. What makes it such a special place for you?
Simply put, Cape Cod is home. There was not a ton of stability in my childhood. My parents had an acrimonious divorce when I was 5, and each went on to marry two more times. For years, my brother and I were shuttled on Greyhound buses between parents and places, but throughout all of it, Cape Cod was the constant. To this day, I experience a physical reaction as I approach the canal. When the landscape starts to change a few miles before the bridge – and maple trees and murmurings of starlings give way to scrub oaks and seagulls, and the air turns brackish – I feel a loosening, an inner calm, a sense of peace.
An Amazon Best Book of October 2019: When Adrienne Brodeur was fourteen years old, her mother entered her room to tell her “Ben Souther just kissed me.” Her mother wasn’t upset, despite the fact that Ben was not Adrienne’s stepfather. In fact, she was happy about it. This event sets off Brodeur’s memoir exploring her outwardly comfortable upbringing and the odd triangle that she, her mother, and Ben eventually created—the result is an engaging, at times breathless, read that builds in anticipation, even after that bang of a beginning. There is barely a wasted word in the book, and the tensions that develop between various members of the family, good or bad, recognized or not—as well the tensions we feel as readers—keep the narrative humming. It’s difficult to describe what makes one memoir more readable than another. But put this one at the top of your list.–Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review
A Best of Fall Title from: People * Refinery29 * Entertainment Weekly * BuzzFeed * NPR’s On Point * Town & Country * Real Simple * New York Post * Palm Beach Post * Toronto Star * Orange Country Register * Bustle * Bookish * BookPage * Kirkus* BBC Culture* Debutiful
A Book of the Month Pick (September)
An Amazon Best of the Month/Spotlight Pick (October)
The Nervous Breakdown Book Club (October)
An Apple Best of the Month (October)
A Bookish “Kelly’s Pick” (Fall)
“Reading Wild Game is an infectious experience. The moment you finish the book, you’ll want to pass it on, so you too can discuss the memoir’s shocking content and astounding writing. Wild Game is for anyone who’s asked themselves the question, ‘Am I destined to become my parent?’“ —Refinery29
“Brodeur’s memoir has set both Hollywood and publishing ablaze.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Shocking, poignant, unputdownable.” —People Magazine
“It’s the kind of juicy what-is-happening memoir that just begs to be made into a movie.”—Buzzfeed
“A fascinating tale about a troubled mother-daughter bond and the effect that decades of lies has on two families.” —NY Post
“Adrienne Brodeur’s stunning memoir is the kind of true story that makes you wonder why we’d ever need fiction. It’s a beautifully written, totally engrossing story unlike any we’ve read before—and will surely be one of the most talked-about books of the year.” —Town and Country Magazine
“As the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up. [A] remarkable web of relationships in a privileged, Cape Cod world and the lies a daughter was forced to tell. Riveting.” —Toronto Star
“I can’t stop thinking about this extraordinary memoir. In the spirit of The Liar’s Club and The Glass Castle, Brodeur takes on the complicated subjects of mother-daughter relationships and family secrets with masterful storytelling and cinematic style. Be forewarned that this book requires the buddy system; you’ll need to discuss it with someone the minute you finish!” —Allison K. Hill, Orange County Register
“This page turning memoir…reads like heady beach fiction…This layered narrative of deceit, denial, and disillusionment is a surefire bestseller.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Here is a book you won’t want to put down for anything. Not since The Glass Castle has a memoir managed to convey such a complex family bond, in which love, devotion, and corrosive secrets are inextricably linked. Gorgeous, addictive, unflinching, Wild Game is a must-read.”
— J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times best-selling author of Maine and Saints for All Occasions
“It’s a rare memoir that reads like a thriller, but Adrienne Brodeur’s Wild Game manages to do just that. Beautifully written and harrowing, the book left me breathless.”
— Richard Russo, author of The Destiny Thief and Empire Falls
“Entirely unique and utterly enthralling, Wild Game examines the ardor of a daughter’s love, caught up in the relentless needs of her mother. In this courageous act of radical self-reflection and truth-telling, Brodeur untangles karmic threads that bind families together across the generations.”
— Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
“Wild Game tells an extraordinary family story, but this riveting memoir will touch all mothers and daughters. Adrienne Brodeur explores with compassionate clarity the intense bonds of love and need that create a family; and the destruction that can ensue. This is a beautiful book.”
— Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl
“A searing, indelible memoir of an extraordinary mother and her equally extraordinary daughter. Among Adrienne Brodeur’s many achievements in Wild Game—beautiful prose, a riveting story, elegantly told—what I found most moving is the love threaded through every page of this unforgettable book.”
— Dani Shapiro, author of Hourglass and Inheritance
“Adrienne Brodeur has had decades to consider her glamorous, aspiring, and deeply manipulative mother, along with her complex influence on her life. She appears to have used each day to explore and perfectly distill this legacy of sex, lies, and love into a memoir that is intimate, emotionally gripping, exquisitely shaped. Brodeur’s search for honesty is heroic and graceful; her hard-earned understanding animates this quietly shattering book about how lies passed by parents embed themselves into their children’s hearts.”
— George Hodgman, New York Times best-selling author of Bettyville
“A candid, deftly crafted narrative…a vivid chronicle of a daughter’s struggle to find herself.”
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me PDF Download review free