“The End of Eve”: Ariel Gore’s Memoir About Caregiving Her “Crazy” Mom

In the weeks immediately after her mom died, when Gore half-jokes that she should have been clearing out her mom’s house and going into therapy, she instead started writing her reflections on her mother. Sarah Maria Medina, Bitch, about The End of Eve

The bio page on the website of prolific author Ariel Gore, editor and publisher of Hip Mama, an award-winning online magazine, notes that her new book, The End of Evehas been called “Terms of Endearment meets Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

Part of the publisher’s description of Gore and The End of Eve:

At age 39, Ariel Gore has everything she’s always wanted: a successful writing career, a long-term partnership, a beautiful if tiny home, a daughter in college and a son in preschool. But life’s happy endings don’t always last. If it’s not one thing, after all, it’s your mother. Her name is Eve. Her epic temper tantrums have already gotten her banned from three cab companies in Portland. And she’s here to announce that she’s dying. ‘Pitifully, Ariel,’ she sighs. ‘You’re all I have.’ Ariel doesn’t want to take care of her crazy dying mother, but she knows she will. It’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? And, anyway, how long could it go on? ‘Don’t worry,’ Eve says. ‘If I’m ever a burden, I’ll just blow my brains out.’ 

Why Did Gore Choose toTake Care of Her “Crazy Dying” Mom?

As told to July Westhale, Lambda Literary:

I became my mom’s caregiver because she was widowed and only had two kids and my sister refused to have anything to do with it. So it fell to me to take it on or to abandon her, which was certainly an option. I think usually if there is a queer kid in the family it falls to the queer kid to do the caregiving. In the same way that if there are no queers but there’s a female—it would fall to the female before it fell to the male children very generally speaking.

Wayne Scott, Oregon Live: “‘I knew my mother was impossible, and worse,’ writes Gore. ‘But some part of me had always liked her.'”

Kirkus Reviews: “Convinced that she needed to do as the Tibetan yogis she admired did and ‘go to the places that scared [her],’ she became Eve’s caregiver.”

Eve Under Gore’s Care

Wayne Scott, Oregon Live: “Eve is a theatrical, tightly wound narcissist; a cross between ‘Mommie Dearest’ and ‘Portlandia’ with a dash of ‘Interiors’; beautiful yet stylishly cruel, distinctive, sometimes eloquent, in the excesses of her sharp attitudes.”

Kirkus Reviews: “…(H)er mother took over the house her daughter had bought and began renovating it. While the author and her family scrambled to make a life ‘out of stardust and panic,’ Eve flirted outrageously with an Anaïs Nin scholar–turned-contractor, watched Hollywood noir movies and reminded everyone that she was dying.”

What Happens to Gore’s Life?

For one, she gets kicked out of her own house after standing up to her mom. For another, her 10-year relationship goes kaput.

Susie Bright, author: “This is the story of the world’s most startlingly insane, beautiful mother who was supposed to die in one year— but nearly killed her entire family and staff before she was through.”

Kirkus Reviews: “…(T)he life Gore had ‘always imagined she [wanted]’ soon fell apart. Desperate to understand her own role in making ‘all this violence seem necessary and inevitable,’ Gore fled to a house outside of Santa Fe where she began redefining the meaning of love.”

She meets someone new. Readers will only know this new love interest as “The Chef.”

Sarah Maria MedinaBitch:

The love story is an integral part of Gore’s memoir—it’s clear that her mom’s death is not the only part of Gore’s life that is changing. Instead, the death marks both an end and a beginning. ‘My mom was dying, but this dynamic in my life was dying, too: the dynamic of being attracted only to people who are withholding and mean to me on some level,’ says Gore.

What Kind of Caretaker is Gore?

Wayne Scott, Oregon Live: “Without defensiveness, Gore maintains her compassion and loyalty. In spite of her mother’s abandonments and manipulations, up to the last days of her life, Gore remains steadfast, trying to set up hospice, bringing food, and worrying.”

Want to Read An Excerpt?

Go to The Nervous Breakdown to read “Lung Cancer Noir.”

Catch the Author on Tour?

It’s all on her website.

Overall Reviews

Kirkus Reviews: “Wickedly sharp reading filled to bursting with compassion, rage, pain and wit.”

Wayne Scott, Oregon Live: “Transcending blame, Gore shifts the paradigm that usually dominates grief memoirs, charting a courageous course through a different type of sorrow: mourning for the parent who couldn’t, wouldn’t love her enough.”

Tom Spanbauer, author: “The depth of insight of The End of Eve often took my breath away. Not to mention its drop-dead humor, the sadness, and the rage. Ariel Gore’s memoir is in its essence a how to book. In the face of death, our grief, how to breathe, how to be brave, how to be funny, how to be authentic. How to make it through. But most of all: tenderness — how Ariel puts human tenderness on the page is an act of poetry damn close to sublime.”

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