Sunday, September 27, 2015

Polly Dugan

Polly Dugan is the author of So Much a Part of You and The Sweetheart Deal. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Dugan's reply:
I’m ¾ of the way through Making Nice, Matt Sumell’s debut, which deserves all of the attention and praise it’s received, as does Sumell for sharing Alby’s unflinching honesty as he staggers along his journey through grief after the death of his mother. Alby’s being cyclically infuriated and brokenhearted in the wake of great loss make him a complex and compelling character. He’s not entitled or proud of behaving badly when he does, but he is painfully self-aware of his flaws—he has no delusions about himself or his motives—and it made me root for him. He’s not trying to get away with anything, he’s trying to get through something, even if the only means to do so is by hanging on for just a little longer and doing the best he can, his best often being a mounting list of regrets.

Any reader who is a fan of smart, literary fiction with a volatile and vulnerable character and intense emotional stakes at its center either already loves this book or will when they get their hands on it, but having lost my mother 12 years ago this September 23rd (next week as I write this), my connection was more personal. Unless you’ve experienced it, (and I’m sorry if you have), people don’t know what grief will look and feel like or what course it will take. Grief can make people misbehave, take risks they shouldn’t, jeopardize relationships, abandon self-care, self-medicate, can make them both needy and antagonistic, to name a few that Alby and Matt Sumell are obviously familiar with. And more: you cling to what you still have that you dearly love—your dog—or to what you believe you could possibly save—a dying bird or your brother from marriage.

I’m familiar too, and since the death of my mother is either thematically at the center of my work, or the event that directly informed it, I applaud Sumell for using what hurts to write this unforgettable book. And, what I also know is true about grief, as clearly Alby does, is that it’s proof of our continued capacity and irrepressible willingness to risk loving deeply, despite the cost.
Visit Polly Dugan's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Sweetheart Deal.

Coffee with a Canine: Polly Dugan & Tripp.

--Marshal Zeringue