On the Rocks: A Novella
Texas Review Press, Dec 30, 2020 - Fiction - 168 pages
In On the Rocks, Eva Marino's free-spirited mother Leonora is on the cusp of her second marriage and Eva is to serve as the maid of honor. Between binge-watching episodes of Midsomer Murders, attending therapy, and drinking mojitos at the Grumpy Monk Tavern directly after the yoga classes she takes with her mother, Eva attempts to keep her grief at bay.
Eva knows she has to step up for her mother as wedding preparations continue, despite the grief she feels over her best friend's death and her realizations about the secrets her parents kept from her as well as from each other. For Eva, the convergence between her past and present comes to a head in the weeks leading up to her mother's wedding. A mother-daughter last hoorah at a New Jersey spa culminates in Eva's understanding of the truth, the truth she tried to keep from surfacing as well as the discovery of a secret that could be impossible for her to move on from.
On the Rocks is a novel about mother-daughter relationships, betrayal, annoying relatives, the power of laughter, family secrets, and a love that lingers from childhood even after the beloved's death. It is both hilarious and poignant, and its heroine's observations are laugh-out-loud funny at the same time they break your heart. Brad Watson has described Theodora Ziolkowski as descending "from a line of writers including the late-greats Eudora Welty (in her sometimes-under-appreciated comic mode), Flannery O'Connor, Charles Portis, and Lewis Nordan, and more recently the great George Singleton. She's darkly funny with a fine eye for the everyday bizarre absurdities that make you want to lie about some of the people you come from." According to the judge for the Next Generation Indie Book Award, "The strength of the voice in [On the Rocks], the humor layered over the pain, the need to turn away from the pain and yet confront it make this fast, funny, poignant [novella] memorable."
The Revised and Expanded Edition includes a foreword by Antonya Nelson, a preface by the author, a reading guide, and the author's preferred version of the text.