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Tom Lanoye's mother, an amateur actress, suffered a stroke and lost her ability to speak. With her voice, once so dear to her, gone, she deteriorated, slowly and inevitably. New attacks made her entirely dependent on help.
As a grateful and moving homage he reconstructs her life in an abundance of language that used to be hers. We meet Jos� as a flamboyant, domineering and controlling woman who, investing great effort in her family and their butcher's shop, always strove for everyone's respectability, reputation and well being, resorting from time to time to dramatic scenes and shrewd manipulation to get her way. Among Jos�'s most painful experiences were, according to Lanoye, the fatal car accident that killed her one 'difficult' son, and the disclosure that her youngest son, the author, is gay.
Good natured and often humorous, Speechless is at times a 'song of curses', as Lanoye describes the conflicts with his beloved diva of a mother and her brave struggle with decline and death. This is an informal, honest testimony of a mother by her son. But it's also the portrait of a generation, of family life in the sixties and seventies. Speechless will speak to anyone who has a family.