Kate Millett's tremulous and hauntingly beautiful memoir begins with a telephone call from Minnesota where her mother is dying. Her return home to a severe, intelligent, and controlling matriarch is the catalyst for a meditation on her upbringing in middle America and her subsequent outcast status as a political activist, artist, and lesbian.
Mother Millett is an intensely personal journey through the author's interior life, a subject she has visited over the years in such classic texts as Sita and The Loony Bin Trip. In these pages are reflections on a life of political engagement, beginning with the sexual politics of the feminist movement, proceeding to the struggle for gay liberation, and culminating in her campaign for housing rights on the Lower East Side of New York where she and her neighbors currently face eviction. Throughout, Millett confronts her fears of losing her mother, the anchor to a world she has long ago rejected but which continues to define her.
Echoing Philip Roth's Patrimony, Millett writes with great poignancy about caring for the person who brought her into the world, a role reversal that brings with it both devastation and grace.
“A confession of a daughter. An extraordinarily rich and sensitive narrative, like a good wine.”
“As young activists search for ways to define their own movements, Kate Millett contributes a novel idea: Think outside yourself and fight for your mother's, or father's – or grandmother's or grandfather's – rights. Eventually, they will be your own.”
“This work, a meditation on both the perils of mother-daughter love and old age, is perhaps her warmest and most universal to date.”
“One of the Best Books of 2001: Written in compelling prose, this poignant memoir of her mother's final years and the writer's struggle to face losing the most influential person in her life reestablishes Millet as a major American literary voice ... An essential purchase.”
“Mother Millett captures the strength of the bond that overcomes conflicts that inevitably arise between two fiercely independent women, particularly when they are mother and daughter.”
“You'll argue with Kate Millett as you read along, but only because she's succeeded in making you think.”
“No, it doesn't make for a soothing bedtime read. But imagine the person who could write serenely and soothingly about such an experience – what sort of person would that be? Of course, one could choose not to write the book at all. But this is stuff we need to know.”
“Millett's book captures the experience of a parent's old age remarkably well, with a strength and grace of which Mother Millet could be proud.”