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  • jjthorndike

My Latest Book

Updated: May 22, 2022

This is a novel based on my mother’s life. The story opens on the day she left my father for another man. This does not go well, and only days later, her lover tells her that their four-year affair is over. She takes off in his car with no luggage, no hope or destination. She buys a bottle of gin and drinks it straight. She abandons the car, flies to New York and takes an airport hotel room. She has no home and nowhere to go.

This is a biographical novel in which much is remembered and much imagined. I call up my mother’s youth in several flashbacks: the sexual molestation by her father, an early affair with her diving coach, her first marriage. After her divorce from Joe Thorndike, she fights to hold onto her sons.

My favorite blurb for the book comes from the writer Paul Kafka-Gibbons, author of Love. Enter and Dupont Circle:

"John Thorndike is scary. He writes about things other writers don’t even want to think about, and does so in an understated, elegant prose that creeps up on a body and makes a mind go places it would otherwise avoid. In The World Against Her Skin, he takes us into his mother’s addictions and sexuality, and treats those delicate subjects with insight and tenderness. He treads a pathway of memoir on one side and fiction on the other. It’s a path so slender that we’re never sure in which genre he’s setting down his feet—but no matter, you’ll want to walk with him."

Because it was scary at times to write this book: to dive fully into my mother's emotional life, which was sometimes ruled by her sexual life, her often-daring choices, her drinking and drug abuse. I wasn't going to be quiet about any of that. As I grew up, my family was too quiet about such topics. As a novelist, they're what I need to explore.

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