Cover Image: Tasha

Tasha

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When Brian Morton published his 1991 novel The Dylanist, he idealized his father and simultaneously tarnished his relationship with his mother, Tasha, who he painted as a not so loveable character. Now 30 years later, Morton remembers his spitfire mother in his book, Tasha: A Son’s Memoir. Recounting her final years and the complicated emotions that arise when caring for an elderly parent, Morton explores the complexity of mother-son relationships and honors his mother through a form he thinks she would have been much more pleased with. I spoke with Brian Morton about all this, as well as what it was like revisiting some painful memories. Here’s our conversation.

https://www.kmuw.org/podcast/marginalia/2022-04-15/brian-morton-on-tasha-a-sons-memoir-a-tribute-to-his-mother
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i enjoyed this book although i didn’t find it profound in any way. i’m also not very fond of this writing style but its easy to read and straightforward so its not difficult to continue reading anyways. i liked this book because it was honest and realistic about the reality of caring for someone losing their battle to time & age & the resulting cognitive deficits, of caring for someone you’ve learned to keep an arms-length away.
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In Morton’s memoir, he writes about his elderly mother’s decline in health later in life.  Many people who have had the responsibility of caring for an older relative will be able to relate to Morton’s experiences.  Obtaining care for someone you love in the most respectful way possible is not easy to do.

The author explores how he navigated this situation while providing a wonderful portrait of his outspoken, independent mother.  I don’t remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud and cry, but Tasha accomplished that feat.   The book made me reflect on my relationships with my grandparents, parents, and children.  

I would recommend this book for readers of memoirs and anyone interested in elder care.
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This memoir is written by the author Brian Morton and it is about his mother.  Morton‘s mother is described as an elderly Jewish women in her 80’s.  She is very intelligent, has a quick wit, is very stubborn, very kindhearted to all, and unfortunately she now has dementia. Her home is a hoarder’s mess and she is furious that her license to drive has been taken away.  She certainly does give her son and daughter a very difficult time as they try to keep her safe and happy.  
The author also reminisces about his childhood and his relationship with his mother throughout the years.  Like everyone who looses a parent, he expresses some regrets and some guilt that continues to haunt him.  I enjoyed this author’s sense of humor and found this to be a memoir that also had me reminiscing about my own parents. While reading this book I felt very gratefully for my wonderful memories and also grateful that my parents were not like Tasha.
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This book was truly an unexpected pleasure! The writing is solid, the author is funny and honest and how can you not love Tasha? Even so, while it is the author's tribute to his mother, it is also a sad tale of how women age and how very difficult their care can be. Our eldercare system is nowhere close to being what it should and could be.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I loved it.
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Tasha is a fascinating memoir about the author's mother and his relationship with her. I loved learning about Tasha and her uniqueness and forward-thinking. The memoir follows his mother's aging and end of life. It ruminates on the way we live and how we treat our family. I loved the style of writing and vulnerability. At times, it is touching, funny, and heartbreaking. 

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC. All thoughts are my own.
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This book is definitely not for readers who are sincerely sentimental. I’m afraid they might be shocked at times by the relationship between the author and his mother. For example, when two of his mother’s live-in helpers proved to be very bad at their jobs, Mr. Morton does not get particularly angry, but made it a point both times to be highly empathetic towards those two women. I wasn’t sure if he was simply a man who championed the rights of the working class, or if he felt his mother would drive anyone to drugs or verbal violence.

See, the problem was his widowed mother Tasha could no longer properly care for herself and her home, due to geriatric health problems. When his mother was 85, she got stuck in her car on a rainy night on a flooded street in Jersey, where water was coming into the car. Fortunately, she was rescued by patrolling policemen. Or was it unfortunate she was rescued by patrolling policemen? For from that time on, her life and health went down river.

Her only daughter had major health problems and worked six days a week, so she was not really in the position to have her mother move in with her family. The author, her only son, had a wife, two young sons, a job teaching at Sarah Lawrence, and really, really, really did not want his mother to move in with his family. He had kept her at a safe distance most of his adult life. A terrible son, yes? No? Well, you’d have to know some things about Tasha before voicing a fair opinion of that matter.

His mother had been a brilliant teacher of children in her younger days, and cared deeply about the state of education. She also cared deeply about her own children, so much so that if the author was late coming home as a teenager, she would frantically call all of his friends’ homes, the hospitals, the police station, etc. Late being past 6PM, mind you. So, was she actually caring or crazy? Tasha also always did whatever she wanted and said whatever she wanted, with little regard as to how her actions or words might affect certain individuals, such as her children. She was a Jew and an atheist, a person with never ending opinions about everyone and everything.

So, what do you do with an elderly lady who won’t listen to anyone, who doesn’t want to leave her home, who doesn’t fit in at assisted living homes, who is mistreated by hired caretakers at home, and who is not particularly liked by a son who does not particularly want to take her in? Fortunately . . . and it probably was indeed fortunately . . . she died before he had to make a definite move to take her in. Does that sound cruel? Or maybe it's cruel that science has made it so we humans often live too long. We often end up like babies in need of constant care. Who really wants to end up like that? Well, actually there are some adults who love being treated like infants again, but Tasha wasn’t one of them.

Would it not have been better if she had died in her flooded car in Jersey that rainy night? Not doing so did give her a chance to change the way she behaved, and change the way she communicated with others. But that did not happen. She stayed the same old Tasha, not wanting anyone to tell her what to do and say, how to behave. Was that really bad? It was obviously bad for her and how she was treated in her final years by others, but it was her choice to continue floating down river. It was her decision to remain true to herself.

If her soul had her say about the matter, and could look back and review the situation, I somewhat believe she would have chosen to die in her beloved car. She would have seen that as a more fitting death for a woman like herself. Not struck down by God, mind you, but wiped off the face of the earth by an old broad even tougher than she was . . . Mother Nature.
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My thanks to NetGalley and Avid Press / Simon & Schuster  publishing for the opportunity to review this memoir.
I loved this unflinching insightful look  of what it can be like dealing with a complex and fiercely independent woman who is also your mother. Who’s lifestyle and actions deteriorate with age and dementia, until her death.
I found this very true to the reality that I have personally experienced with patients I have cared for.. 
Definitely worth reading
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In Tasha, Brian Morton (Florence Gordon) offers up a biography wrapped in a memoir, an attempt to understand the complex and complicated woman his late mother was.

Morton starts with his own understanding of his mother. He recalls her harebrained adventures as a young mother, their strained but never estranged relationship as he became an adult, and later her slow decline into depression and "despondency" following the sudden death of her husband, Morton's father. "When you're young, it's hard to see your parents in context," Morton writes. "Your parents are the context." Following years of complicated caregiving as his mother aged, and her eventual death, he yearns to understand his mother. Thus was born Tasha, an attempt "to see her whole, as I didn't succeed in doing when she was alive."

Tasha Morton was the first-ever copy girl at a local newspaper. She paused her education for 10 years to mother her two children before eventually earning a master's degree and starting a career as a teacher in her 40s. She attended the board of education meetings in her town every week, served on the board for 20 years until the age of 80, and kept attending meetings even after failing to win re-election in 2005. She organized against racist redlining practices in her town.

Morton offers up these accomplishments as context before focusing more fully on his mother's eventual stroke and slow decline toward death. Tasha is a beautiful and kind, if not always nice, tribute to a mother from her son, told with a quality of self-reflective honesty that is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming.
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Old Tasha was a firecracker!

I love it when I can say a memoir is juicy when there’s not neon-light action and drama. It’s just a son telling the story of his mom, Tasha, as she slowly enters dementia-hood. It’s chock full of self-reflection and psychological insight—about him, her, and their relationship. I always pant to hear that kind of talk—psych talk where we get down to the nitty-gritty of why we do and say things.

I picked this book up for two reasons. One, Betsy gave this book a big thumbs up in her excellent review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4482890647?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 Two, I read a novel years ago by Morton called Florence Gordon, which ended up on my favorites shelf. It’s about a feisty old feminist living in New York City.  I started out loving her but then decided she was too much of a bitch for my liking. Still, I remember the book fondly.

Morton is such a good writer—no fancy-schmancy, self-conscious, poetic wax-ness. Just a very honest, straightforward, and sophisticated memoir, with some humor and self-deprecation thrown in. We don’t get any filler or side trips or navel-gazing. The tone is conversational without being cute. Good editing for sure.

Morton seems to understand his mom deeply. And he analyzes his motives and needs as he wrestles with what to do with her. He doesn’t give himself any breaks; he doesn’t make himself appear as the saintly son, that’s for sure. She, of course, has her own needs, ones that aren’t the same as his—and man does she express them! 

What to do with an old mother who is losing it? Do you take her home to live with you? (Oh squirm like a worm!) Do you find someone reliable and normal to come to her home and take care of her? Do you find a “facility”? And good luck with that one. There are a lot of scary dumps out there! The book shines a light on the huge question of what to do. We learn that America sure drops the ball when it comes to caring for old guys. And elder abuse does exist, folks—frightening! Now an old gal, I found it all fascinating and cathartic. Also terrifying.

This book is super relatable, as my sibs and I had the same problem with our demented mom. Where should she live? How to cope with the feelings that go with that decision? And now—oh this must be impossible—my own kids might have to make tough decisions on my care down the road. Gulp.

Tasha was a firecracker, which made it a captivating read. But I also found her obnoxious and uncaring, especially as Morton recounted her younger years. She did grow on me, but it took a while. Morton went through hell making the required decisions about her life. His angst meter was topping out.

Funny, I went back and read my review of Florence Gordon and in it I talk about a son who is at college and never appears in the story. It seemed strange. I can’t help but think that Florence the character resembled Tasha his mom. Well, I’m here to tell you that the son ain’t mum no more—he has shown up bigtime, to talk about the real Tasha, aka Florence. He honors her quirkiness, her stubbornness, her zest, her crankiness, while looking at himself as he struggles with her behavior and needs.

I’m a fiction lover through and through, and I will tell you that this memoir reads like a great character-driven novel. And did I say it’s a page-turner? Pretty good when we’re talking about a tame little memoir about a son and his mom. I want to read more by this author; he definitely has groovy writing chops.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
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The author after his mother is rescued from a car that was stuck in flood waters and both him and his sister noticing that something is not quite right find out that their mother has probably suffered a stroke. He is forced to look back over his and his family's life's and especially his relationship with his mother which was not as close as the one he had with his father. He also figures he should have realized that his mother was an eccentric and at times a little different. He tells the story of his mother who was a driven woman that left home at the age of 16, changed her name, was the first ever copy girl for the Daily Worker, she worked for a labor union, and became a forward-thinking teacher that was loved by both students and parents. She used the concept of open teaching that was something quite new in the 1970's. She led a successful life and contributed towards society especially education as she was an elected school board member for twenty years. Still with all this he is confronted with why he could not have a closer relationship and why his mother acted the way she did. As the story moves forward the family has to cope with what children have to face with aging parents or parent with taking driving privileges away and in her instance moving into dementia and how to care for her and how to find the right care and possible facilities and people that care and will actually do their job. As you will see he does find some of the answers he is looking for concerning his relationship, but it just may come a little too late. I could not believe that he did not realize at the time that his mother was a hoarder, he mentioned one time they hired a cleaner who took fifteen bags of trash to the curb and after she left his mother brought them all back in and took everything out of the bags. Overall, this is a good read thank you to Netgalley and ECW press for an ARC for a fair and honest review.
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This biography (or memoir, depending on how you look at it) is deeply intelligent and was a pleasure to read. Morton's writing is engaging and flows really well, and his literary perspective does his mother's life and memory justice.
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Oh how I love a writer who strives to tell the truth.

That sounds like a simple statement but it is not. A writer who strives to tell the truth acknowledges, first, that it's impossible. The minute you put something into language, you are once-removed from its essence. And when you try to write the truth about somebody other than yourself, the chances of getting it right are almost nil. And if you try to tell the truth about yourself, you are in for the battle of your life.

In this funny, moving memoir about Brian Morton's complicated irascible mother Tasha, Morton not only does full battle with himself to tell the truth, but he strives to get it right about a woman whose last words to him were, "I hate you."

And somehow Morton makes his striving, full of conversations with himself in an effort to get to truths he may be ignoring or hiding from himself, absolutely riveting.

I loved it. I love the humor. I love the truth. I love Tasha and Brian. I love the effort, and I love that he succeeds. This is a wonderful, entertaining memoir of complicated truths (as well as a lot of substantial content about aging and elder care in the US of A, "a country whose motto might as well be "You're On Your own."). And I believe more and more that if a writer does this—commits himself to truth over the vanity of looking good or any compulsions to be a literary show off (we all have both) or create any kind of appearance that people might like or that might sell books—he becomes somebody any reader, no matter what their own history, can relate to.
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Weird and interesting - certainly unusual - memoir of a mother which makes you think. 
I can't tell if I enjoyed reading it, because it's a sad look at life but it did make me think, and it certainly represented some people of a similar age and situation I have come across. 

Overall you note the love the son has for his monther, despite her not being an easy person. However I missed hearing more about the woman she was before. There was another side to her that is touched upon, but after reading so much about the woman, I wish I knew more.
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Brian Morton's memoir on his mother, Tasha, begins as she is nearing the end of her life.  Battling the aftermath of a stroke as well as the onset of dementia, Tasha does not make life easy for anyone. Morton chronicles her story giving readers a glimpse into the complex, courageous and rather irreverent woman that he grew up with.

Morton admits that he kept his mother "at arm's length" for most of his life, but as Tasha struggles with day-to-day living, Morton gives us an unvarnished account of what it's like to deal with a parent whose independence is rapidly vanishing, but whose pride won't let go of a life she's known for so many years.

Morton has written a loving, humorous and honest account of dealing with Tasha (warts and all) as both of them navigate this new reality. And while Morton wrote this book after Tasha's death, I liked to think that even though she (as well as her son) weren't always written in the most flattering light, it is a book filled with a son's devotion and love.

I would like to thank #NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to review this electronic ARC.
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Beautiful. Poignant. Phenomenal.
This was a beautify read and I learnt so much. I cried and I smiled and there was nothing more that I wanted from this book. Truly a gem.
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Always hard to judge a memoir. I thought this was interesting, but I had a hard time connecting with or relating to the people in this memoir. While it didn’t work for me, I would still recommend as I think other people could definitely relate. I think I would’ve enjoyed this book more if I’d read it at a different time in my life.
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The description of the mother and son's relationship was beautifully done, and the way he cared for his aging mother impacted me more than I thought it would. I would recommend this book for book club, this one would be amazing for an in-depth discussions between fellow readers.
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Well that was lovely - describing a relationship between a mother and son must be daunting. Author Brian Morton writes with a beautiful gift of conveying the complex emotions mananging the care for his aging, declining mother. Throughout the book, I loved his mom.  You will too. I smiled a lot while reading this - i also related to the feelings of love toward an aging parent and the insufficient options an adult
 child has as care options for their parent. Tasha is a wonderful book - I read it it one sitting - page after page captivating me. Highly recommend. Great choice for a book discussion group. Heartfelt thanks to Avid for the advanced copy. I’m grateful.
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Brian Morton has written an ode to his mother Tasha.A warm real look at his mom not the easiest of people.Their complicated relationship takes a different turn in her twilight years where he has to be totally involved.Theirstory had me laughing out loud and also compassion for both of them.Ireally enjoyed this memoir and will be recommending.#netgalley #Avidreaderpress.
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