Author: Lily Iona MacKenzie
Genre: Contemporary fiction/magical realism
Book Blurb :
Is it possible to come of age at 60 or 90? Is it ever too late to fulfill your dreams?
When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. A woman with a mission, Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.
Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey. The two women head south from Canada to Mexico where Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their hilarious antics.
In Mexico, where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother, and Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes-and a new man-increases her zest for life. Unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. She doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily and lusting after strangers, exulting in her youthful spirit.
Has Bubbles discovered a fountain of youth that everyone can drink from?
Lewis Buzbee, who teaches creative writing in the University of San Francisco’s MFA in writing program and has published several volumes of fiction and non-fiction, says, “Fling is both hilarious and touching, the madcap journey of an aging mother and her adult daughter from cold Protestant Canada into the hallucinogenic heart of Mexico’s magic, where the past literally comes to life. Every page is a surprise, and “Bubbles” is one of the most endearing mothers in recent fiction. A scintillating read.”
He also said, I so enjoyed reading Fling. A terrific book. The writing is wonderful and such a good read. And the characters! I especially loved Bubbles. Thanks for letting me read it.
Waiting for her mother Bubbles to answer the door, Feather dangles her straw tote bag from one shoulder. She’s wearing an ankle length red peasant skirt with matching top and scuffed brown leather hiking boots. A yellow cotton triangle partly conceals her long dark auburn hair, now streaked with gray.
The door opens and before Feather can speak, words rush out of Bubbles’ mouth: “Mother’s ashes, they’re in the dead letter office. México City.” Feather sighs and steps inside, sets down her bag, and gives her mum a tentative hug. The corset she’s wearing prevents Feather from feeling her generous curves, and she can smell urine. The scent is mixed with cheap Evening in Paris perfume. As usual, she feels overwhelmed by this woman who gave birth to her.
Bubbles pulls away and pats her hair. “I’m telling you, we need to make plane reservations right away.”
“Cool it, Mum. You’ll have a heart attack!”
Pure white hair a frizzed halo, scalp pink as a baby’s, she checks out Feather from head to foot and shakes her head. “I thought you’d be dressed up for my party.”
“I am dressed up!” Feather should be used to her mother’s scrutiny by now and her disapproval of anything that isn’t the latest in fashion. But she isn’t. It still stings when she doesn’t accept her as she is, a leftover hippie from the 60s.
Bubbles swerves away from Feather and lurches toward the coffee table, snatching a creased, brown manila envelope from among the clutter there. “I’m serious! Mother’s ashes—” She hands her the letter. “Look: it says México City. But I can’t make out these words: Oficina de cartas perdidas. What do they mean?”
“I think it’s office of lost packages.” Or maybe it means office of lost souls. Given the little she knows of her granny, she seemed a lost soul, unable to adapt to life in the new world after leaving the Isle of Skye. Maybe she does need to be rescued, locked in some in-between world for the sins she committed against her children, leaving them in the dust to follow her lover south of the border. The feminist in Feather applauds her granny for striking out on her own and going against the flow. But the mother in her knows the damage she did by abandoning her kids. She left much sorrow in her wake. Bubbles seems stuck psychologically at the age she was when her mother left, and Feather’s uncles didn’t fare well either. Their lives were hollow shells, like something discarded on the beach. Still, she can’t be too harsh on her grandmother, a woman who followed her heart, not always an easy thing to do.
Feather flops onto the love seat, sending up a cloud of dust, and reads the letter aloud: “Dear Madam: There big box dead letter office address you name. Come get box. Mrs. Heather MacDonald ashes. Nun found box and note for family. Have box many years. No send ashes by mail for health reasons. When you pick up?”
“Granny’s ashes? She popped off years ago.”
Bubbles paces, the bunny ears on her slippers flopping back and forth, almost tripping her. “You’ve got to take me to México City. It’ll be like old times. Traveling together.”
A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in her early years, Lily Iona MacKenzie supported herself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored her into the States). She also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco; briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (and almost got her legs broken); founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County; co-created THE STORY SHOPPE, a weekly radio program for children that aired on KTIM in Marin County; and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). She has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 150 American and Canadian venues. Fling, one of her novels, was published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. Visit her blog at: https://lilyionamackenzie.wordpress.com .
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