Tasha Morton is a force of nature: a brilliant educator who's left her mark on generations of students--and also a Jewish mother extraordinaire, intrusive, chaotic, oppressively devoted, and irrepressible. For decades, her son Brian has kept her at a self-protective distance, but when her health begins to fail, he knows it's on him to step up and assume responsibility for her care. Even so, he's not prepared for what awaits him.
If the dead are never safely dead, and the past never past, the beauty of Tasha is in Morton’s very struggle to get Tasha right on the page, once and for all. With humility and grace, he tells us that he has failed his mother by not seeing her as a full and complete person, one with great courage, complexity and strength. But it is a gift of mature adulthood — and perhaps the work of writing memoir — to see our parents as people who exist outside of their centrality in our lives ... [A] lucid memoir ... Following her death, he offers a deeply stirring passage in which his cleareyed, empathetic understanding of his mother is channeled into her own voice as she might have railed against him in a torrent of onrushing words, never for an instant letting himself off the hook.
[A] bracing account ... Morton’s novels...all have in common a calm, caring voice that imbues the prose with a wry, pained tenderness, as if shaking its head at the human folly it describes. That same voice sustains this memoir ... 'How can you see your parents clearly?' Morton wonders. He’s not sure he’ll ever be able to, but to his extreme credit, he gives it everything...interleaved with his own present exhaustion, exasperation and anguish ... Truth: I found Tasha addictive. I couldn’t even slow down. Why? Its startling details, fearless depictions and the curiosity this sparks: How might Morton 'solve' the unsolvable? Best is Morton’s witty, scalding honesty ... A complex, arduous yet satisfying reckoning seeps through ... Tasha stands as both a cri de coeur and vibrant testament — the painstaking, brave, generous piecing-together of a wildly difficult puzzle.
... superb ... one thing that sets Tasha far apart from the usual one-sided literary conversation with a deceased parent is Morton's rigorous attempt to see his mother, Tasha, whole — as a person — not 'just' in relation to him, or, God forbid, an eccentric 'character' ... Another thing that distinguishes Tasha is Morton's elastic style as a writer, by turns droll, emotionally wrenching, and profound ... The land of no mercy would have been a fine alternate title for this powerful memoir. No mercy for the elderly in need; no mercy for the labor force that cares for them; no mercy for the guilt-ridden, exhausted adult children. It's a wonder that with themes this heavy, Tasha is such a pleasure to read, oscillating between past and present, horror and hilarity, the big social picture and one son's ongoing attempt to work out some stuff with his mother.