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In Dark Water

The Ballantine
Publishing Group

August 1998; May 1999

Interview With the Ballantine Reader’s Circle

Page 9

 
 

time, did what he was supposed to do. He worked very hard outside the home. But to the family, he was almost invisible. And Michael was holding so much together on the outside, there was no time or place for letting any of his internal turmoil out. Florence left no room for that. Not till the end. And he had no cultural support for him to be anything else than who he was, somewhat opaque and impermeable. At least in this book, because it wasn’t his story and he was seen mainly through Dorrie’s eyes. She loved him, but she couldn’t really know him, and she longed for him even in his presence. In a sense, Michael is a hero, albeit a weak, very ordinary one.

Q:

The Tappens’ great capacity to love another’s child as much as their own is a major part of the novel. In your own life, have you experienced or witnessed this extended notion of family, or does this relationship represent an ideal?

MB:

From the time I was twelve to about sixteen, I lived on a horse farm in the summer with a family I felt part of. Like many teenagers do, I found there my surrogate mom, and then there was her mom, who everyone called Grandma. She was Italian and fed us all. The farm was a lot like the Roman notion of “familias” that James Hillman talks about in his “Myths of the Family” lectures. The origin of that word was not ased on the idea of kinship but on the house itself, the place itself and all belonging to it, the animals, the furniture, the servants. It was not a nuclear family but rather a “psycho-economic organism based on service and participation.”

 

As a single mother for five years, I watched not only my mom and dad but also my closest friends “take on” the effort of raising my child. One of my son’s baby-sitters

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