Author: Lily Iona MacKenzie
Genre: Literary/Women’s Fiction/Humor
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing
Fling! features 57-year-old Feather and her 90-year-old mother Bubbles. They travel from Canada to Mexico, making stops in San Francisco and the Isle of Skye, seeking answers to family mysteries during their odyssey. What they find instead is a whole new view of life that they hadn’t considered before.
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.”
Waiting for 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. Mexico 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 Mexico City. But I can’t make out these words: Oficina de cartas perdidas. What do they mean?”
“I think it’s the office of lost packages.”
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 Mexico City. It’ll be like old times. Traveling together.”
Feather throws up her hands. “Mexico City? No way. They kill tourists there. Anyway, I already have plans for the summer. I’m doing research in Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende on matriarchal cultures.” She’s been interested in spending more time in Mexico since doing her earth goddess series of sculptures. The matriarchy still lives there, hidden under the layers of modern life. There’s something very primitive hovering in that country.
Bubbles scowls. “I can’t just leave her in a foreign country. I could get killed here, too. Gangs are attacking old people all the time. Never mind, I’ll get Buddy to take me.”
“Buddy! Jesus, Mum, he can’t handle a trip like that.”
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A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in my early years, I supported myself 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 me into the States). I 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 (I was the first woman to work on the SF docks and almost got my 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, CA, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). I have published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 150 American and Canadian venues. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2017. Freefall: A Divine Comedy will be released in 2018. My poetry collection All This was published in 2011. I also taught writing at the University of San Francisco for over 30 years, and I blog at https://lilyionamackenzie.wordpress.com .
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