HOMING: A Memoir
In this heart-twisting memoir, a teen boy is the object of his mother’s deep sexual urges. Does it cross the line into abuse? Is he responsible for her frequent retreats to mental hospitals? Can he ever forgive her? The son needs most of a lifetime to unravel, then free himself from, the mysteries of her demise.
Fourteen-year-old Mark Lyons awakens to his mother screaming at his father, threatening to tell the children her darkest secrets, including her sexual obsession with her son. The “Black Dog” soon drives her to mental hospitals, electroshock therapy, and addiction. Some days Mark is banished from home to avoid setting her off. He finds sanctuary in the greasy garage of his friend Richie and in training his pigeons to circle home to their roost. At seventeen Mark flees his home, but he never really escapes. As an adult he contends with guilt and rage and a profound fear of loving. Decades later, after circling back home time and again to reclaim his childhood, he finds a way toward peace and forgiveness.
In addition to its depiction of a teen trying to make sense of his crumbling world, Homing paints a brilliant portrait of Southern California in the late 1950s. If you have never cruised in a rebuilt ’49 Studee to the Long Beach Pike, leaped over the dikes of orange groves while firing greenies at the kids from the next block, or worked alongside Mexican farmworkers, this book will take you there.
Mark Lyons' collection of short stories, Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines, was chosen as a 2015 Kirkus Book of the Year. He has also edited two bilingual books: Dreams and Nightmares/Sueños y Pesadillas, a memoir by a fourteen-year-old girl who fled Guatemala and traveled alone to the United States; and Espejos y Ventanas/Mirrors and Windows: Oral Histories of Mexican Farmworkers. He is director of the Philadelphia Storytelling Project.
Memoir, 226 pages
paperback / $18.95 / ISBN 978-0-9995501-5-1
Kindle ebook / $9.95
“To read Mark Lyons’s Homing is to feel you’re in the presence of a writer excavating years of memories—by turns harrowing, confusing, nostalgic, tender—with great honesty and integrity. While at times painful, this memoir doesn’t veer into the sensational or sentimental. Nor does it offer easy answers. This book truly moved me.”
—Elise Juska, author of If We Had Known and The Blessings
“Raw and ultimately triumphant, Homing celebrates the healing powers of the natural world and the resilience of the human spirit.”
—Joy E. Stocke, author of Anatolian Days and Nights and publisher of Tree of Life Books
“Vividly detailed, present-tense prose … filled with adolescent angst, sadness, fears for his future, and anger at his parents.… The author has found peace, but pain and a sense of great loss permeate these pages. A thoughtful, moving account.”
“Mark Lyons’ Homing is a companion piece for Phillip Roth’s Portnoy's Complaint. Homing takes the reader further into family history. We root for Lyons, hoping he’ll feel lovable again. He holds the reader spellbound, persists in breaking through the walls that his parents constructed. A great read that will find you turning the pages no matter the time, to find out that trust—not distrust—is a bigger part of the human spirit. It took guts to write this book. Most of us insist on living in the shadows. He lets the light in, penetrating every corner.”
—Hal Sirowitz, former Poet Laureate of Queens, author of Mother Said
“Loss and longing make homing pigeons of some of us, and the stakes are raised when mental illness permanently changes a family. In Homing: A Memoir, Mark Lyons circles back home again and again, in the face of fear, shame, and danger, ultimately discovering empathy, forgiveness, and love where less honest and bold souls might remain paralyzed by loss and anger. Vivid and lyrical, Homing’s haunting narrative provides an eloquent voice for every child so trapped, making it a timeless and important book.”
—Ned Bachus, author of the memoir Open Admissions
“This poignant book should be read by anyone who has ever wondered about the capacity for joyful engagement with wildlife and the creative resilience of a child in the face of adversity.”
—Annie Steinberg, M.D., child psychiatrist, University of Pennsylvania
“Homing takes on the taboo of incest. Such honesty may be especially difficult for men, according to the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. A frequent response to abuse by survivors is to handle it 'by ourselves,' the association notes. Homing may lead to more frank and healing conversations.”
—Constance Garcia-Barrio, on the blog of the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging