Praise & Reviews for Museum of Stones
A mother and her son "sit on the floor of the Museum of Natural History under the blue whale, discussing the way his muscles contracted to propel him through the water. In the semi-darkness we strain to hear the underwater sounds, sometimes muddled, other times perfectly clear." Later, in the planetarium, "the Milky Way is a wide causeway of sparkling mica schist, bordered by diamond-studded mountains. / He whispers, outer space has many dry planets. HD 209458b and HD 189733b are two that are worth exploring."...
In this kaleidoscopic pastiche of a novel, Lynn Lurie creates a world full of grief, confusion, pain, and difficult but enduring love.
The unnamed narrator is the mother of a boy who struggles with many mysterious health problems — once, he is called schizophrenic while another time he is diagnosed with an illness that has supposedly been eradicated everywhere except in parts of Africa. While the stress of raising such a child sometimes overwhelms her to the point of despair, she often is loving and accommodating of her son's unique desires and needs, translating them for the world at large. Yet she has her breaking points — and empties out his hoarded possessions into dumpsters.
Upon inheriting a portrait of herself, she takes scissors and stabs it, ultimately deciding to make it a collage. And that is how this book reads — like a collage of ideas and impressions, taken from a chronological narrative and stabbed apart into what we are left with, pieces of a puzzle strewn like clues between two covers....
Red on White: Motherhood in Lynn Lurie's Museum of Stones
The literature of motherhood, like motherhood itself, is full of different pathways. A reader or mother can venture down any number of routes through the experience, and the choices any person has in this regard are determined by luck as much as will. When I was pregnant the first time, a friend sent me Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions, a popular memoir that frankly acknowledges Lamott's demons: addiction, grief for her father, the mundane travails of single parenting.
Warm and wry, it was the right thing for me to read at the time; it patterned a kind of gallows humor that buoyed me through the tender hell of newborn care. I passed it around to other new mothers. Later, deeper into motherhood, I read and loved Rachel Zucker's MOTHERs, which travels a darker (and more formally experimental) path, largely shaped by Zucker's deep disappointment in her own mother. Here was a gravel-voiced account that provided companionship by daring to admit, as Zucker puts it, "how often I feel, when with my children, 'I don't want to be here.'"
In the novel Museum of Stones, we follow an unnamed narrator through the journey of what motherhood is really like. And in her third work, Lynn Lurie masterfully depicts this chaotic, frightening, loving, and sometimes neurotic life of being a mother to an extraordinary son. Through the unnamed narrator, Lurie brings us into the mind of a new mother to experience everything she is experiencing. We are given her life in a series of carefully chosen, interwoven vignettes that blend together the narrator's past and her present. Moving between the United States and Peru, the narrative pushes forward and backward through space and time and snares our emotions in the in-between.
A life full of what ifs lends itself toward anxiety. The life of a new mother lends itself to the anxiety of the "what ifs." In her novel Museum of Stones Lynn Lurie depicts the hardships and the bouts of anxiety driven mania of motherhood. "I asked the nurse to count his toes and then count them again. She holds a crumpled form in front of me… I count five toes, then, five more." Through a mix of quick flash backs and unsettling time jumps, Lurie shows the fragility of the mind coupled with obsessive desire to protect and love a child.
"In Lynn Lurie's Museum of Stones, a woman experiences parenting as a cross between profound love and constant, only sometimes low-grade terror. Swinging between the past and the present, the novel moves from the mother's rough birth of her son to her time with him in Peru when he is an adult. This work crosses genre boundaries, employing the lyricism of poetry with the character development of a novel."