Book Talk: Home Making: A Novel by Lee Matalone
"An intricate exploration of family and home, of mother and child, of friends, of women and written with both precision and style."
—Weike Wang, author of Chemistry
From a talented, powerful new voice in fiction comes a stunning novel about the intersection of three lives coming to grips with identity, family legacy, and what it means to make a house a true home.
About the Book
Cybil is a war child—the result of a brief affair between a young Japanese woman and a French soldier—who at a young age is transplanted to Tucson, Arizona, and raised by an American officer and his rigid wife. After a rebellious adolescence, she grows up to become a successful ob-gyn.
Chloe, Cybil’s daughter, is adrift in an empty house in the hills of Virginia. Her marriage has fallen apart, and her estranged husband is dying of cancer. Room by room, Chloe makes her new house into a home, grappling always with the real and imagined boundaries that limit her as a single, childless woman in contemporary America.
Beau, Chloe’s closest friend, is in love with a man he’s only met on the internet, who lives across the country. Shepherding Chloe through her grief, he is often called back to his loud, humid, chaotic childhood in Southwest Louisiana, where he first reckoned with the intricate ties between queerness, loneliness, and place.
Through each of these characters Matalone weaves a moving, beautiful narrative of home, identity, and belonging. Home Making is a somber, yet hopeful, ode to the stories we tell ourselves in order to make a family.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" Matalone’s heady, lyrical debut overlays an adopted woman’s journey into motherhood with her daughter’s story of making a home for herself as an adult. In measured prose, Matalone draws out connections between past and present to illuminate the mother and daughter’s shared sense of ambiguity toward motherhood. Matalone’s cool reflections on art and architecture will appeal to fans of Chris Kraus. " —Publishers Weekly
“ In her poetic first novel, Matalone probes the meaning of home and family. . .These vivid characters revisit their pasts and make plans to build a place “where happiness can bloom.” Chloe’s renovation watchword is “Rome,” as in “not built in a day.” So it is with home-making. The work is never done. The layers of meaning Matalone evokes provide a rich trove for discussion. ” —Booklist
“ In Home Making, Lee Matalone has written the debut novel of the year. Structurally bold and metaphorically rich, Matalone constructs a whole new world from the empty spaces inside us all. In Home Making, Matalone provides a rich, new blueprint of how we find meaning in the places we inhabit, the people we know, and how ultimately we continue to build that home which is our self. Brilliant. ” —Scott McClanahan, author of The Sarah Book
“ Home Making is subtle, funny, and original. An enormously moving novel about learning to make a home and, ultimately, a life.” —Erin Somers, author of Stay Up with Hugo Best
“ Lee Matalone’s Home Making is simply put — incredible. Her style is reminiscent of Pat Conroy and Flannery O’Connor yet uniquely her own. Her characters are well-drawn, and after a few pages, you feel as if they were old friends coming to visit for a couple of days…Home Making is more than a metaphor, more than an idea or a story. It’s a piece of literary magic.” —Rapid River Magazine
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Lee Matalone's writing has been featured in the The Offing, Lit Hub, The Rumpus, Denver Quarterly, and Hobart, among other places. Home Making is her first novel. She lives in South Carolina.