M. Sarki's Reviews > Epigraph

Epigraph by Gordon Lish
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jun 03, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star-wonders, to-read-again-soon-before-dying
Read from July 28 to August 04, 2015 — I own a copy


In numerous correspondences a husband with the same name as the author Gordon Lish attempts to eventually come to grips with his grief and the particularities of certain Mercy Women and civil authorities who had come to govern his home and life while in the death throes of his wife’s long and painful illness and decline. The fact that these Mercy Women who managed the bulk of his wife’s daily care were Christians seemed to drive a deeper wedge into the open wounds of Gordon Jay Lish who himself was raised a Jew. Lish constantly makes pleas to all of them, and uses diatribes in his letters to secure his point on a growing number of issues that tend to be judged by certain strict fundamentalists too harshly, when in fact, the vast majority of us behave in much the same manner as does this now-over-excitable and frighteningly-lonely character Lish. It is obvious that in his mind he must now cross over these religious and civil barriers his perceived aggressors have drawn as lines in the sand for him. How dare these women cast their vile at him for now wanting a bit of hot sex he hadn’t religiously enjoyed for years during his wife’s prolonged and unjust illness? And why do the civil courts keep summoning his dead wife with their notices for jury duty? It is enough to drive the poor man crazy.

Dear Mrs. Florism,

…If I am wrong, tell me I am wrong. Hesitate not. I could not bear to think that you might be at all hesitant not to hesitate me not. Come see me. I want to see your bosoms. Yours are the bosoms that tremble, not the bosoms that shake. If I am wrong, if I go too far and am wrong, then write it off to the paper I am writing this to you on—but please, please, please, not to breathe a word of this to Mr. Florism for I am very afraid, very afraid, very afraid…

Dear Mrs. Florism,

Please, please, please—I am so dreadfully sorry for what I said and so unbridledly ashamed of it and am consequently desirous in the veriest extreme of you keeping it to your self and of you not making any mention of it to your mister.

Yours apologetically.

Mr. Gordon Lish, in bereavement

Is it too much of me to think that Gordon Lish may have taken the greatest risk and told the utmost truth of his despair, he while in the midst of such grief over the loss of his wife and life they shared together for so many years? His expression in words amounting to the affects of an extremely troubled soul? To have finally been forced to let go of romantic dreams they made together of creating a loving home, their lives so totally immersed into the arts of dance and literature? A bereavement so wretched that the afflicted man escapes into the arms and sex of anyone available to him to provide him comfort from his extreme pain and suffering? It is plain to see between these covers that Gordon Lish is finally having his own nervous breakdown. And he deserves it after eight long years tending as nurse to his long-suffering wife. And what is a little sexual attention among friends, or even the occasional stranger? And why not enjoy recreating, lounging at a three-quarter tilt in the previously-used Lauchesset that his wife Barbara had suffered in for so long? Or using her discarded letter board as a perfectly fine hard surface in which to write his daily correspondences on? Gordon relaxes himself in this Lauchesset while wrestling with numerous demons who not only want their valuable chair returned but continually harass the now-posturing man with their constant reminders.

Along with the obvious, and present throughout, are birds and hermit crabs, all with names as pets, and their eventual personal accidents resulting in their own deaths and the messes that their additional dying consists of. Plus there are freshly-baked cakes, and the woman who makes them, as well as the one who eats. And a woman’s heels of the one who eats that grip his arching back in order to skillfully draw their naked genitals even closer, and all the while a loose finch or two threatens to claw his bare behind and unclothed vulnerabilities. There seems to be feathers afloat everywhere. But no ranting can save him from his suffering.

Of course, as with any Lish offering, there is never a resolution in which to hang your hat on. And there is no sense of ever coming home, especially, to roost.
4 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Epigraph.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/28/2015 marked as: currently-reading
07/28/2015 page 15
9.0% "I just couldn't help myself. I have read this book at least two times before. My favorite Lish title."
07/30/2015 page 41
26.0% "I absolutely love this book!"
08/04/2015 marked as: read

No comments have been added yet.