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Who Killed Mom?: A Delinquent Son's Meditation on Family, Mortality, and Very Tacky Candles [Paperback]

Steve Burgess
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 21 2011

A Globe & Mail Top 100 Selection

One of Canada's funniest writers, Steve Burgess, tackles his mother's life and death in a profound, entertaining story.

Memoir, biography, and outrageous comedy make for a perfect blend in the debut book from acclaimed writer. Telling the tale of his mother's life and death, and along the way laying bare his own struggles as a troubled teenager, Burgess delivers a moving meditation on life and family.

The author's mother, Joan, barely survived her thirteenth birthday: a rare disorder had made it almost impossible for her to swallow food. Her battle to survive this illness was the first in a lifelong struggle with the demons of her upbringing. As she raised her five children, of whom the author is the youngest, Joan revealed herself to be a strong and remarkably complex woman, despite being a sick parent. This is the story of her family: Joan herself, her husband—a charming United Church minister—and their children, including the alarmingly delinquent Steve.

Who Killed Mom? brims with uproarious anecdotes and one-liners. Whether he's relating how an ice cream product saved him from a gruesome death on the Trans-Canada, sizing up the rebranding efforts of a woeful Manitoba motel, or depicting daily life in a retirement community, Burgess infuses his tales with plenty of humour. But beneath the book's hilarity is a penetrating examination of eternal themes: family, mortality, fate, and the enduring value of love.


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Review

. . . a poignant, loving and darkly humourous memoir. —Toronto Star 100 Books of 2011

(2011-12-03)

Using a blend of memoir, biography, and at times outrageous comedy, Steve tells the story of his mother's life and death, while laying his own struggles bare along the way . . . Beneath the book's hilarity is a penetrating examination of eternal themes: family, mortality, fate and the enduring value of love. —Brandon Sun

(2011-04-10)

Not only are there no murders, but Burgess has managed to pull off a memoir that dwells not on dysfunction and disaster but on the everyday experiences of a refreshingly happy and ordinary family . . . Burgess has a way with one-liners, and it comes in handy as he gets ready to face the death of his beloved mother. As they say, you have to laugh. —Winnipeg Free Press

(2011-04-16)

It's a heartfelt, but funny, portrait of the author's mother . . . Burgess writes with candor and humour about his family and their circle. He's also merciless when revealing his own faults. —Uptown Magazine

(2011-04-21)

Who Killed Mom? more closely resembles a poignant, darkly humorous but very loving memoir of [Steve Burgess'] parents, his mom especially, and the kids who had to let her go, not an easy thing to do. I found it hard to let her go too. —Toronto Star

(2011-05-06)

One would hardly expect to guffaw through a memoir that examines the aging of a parent, her declining health, her loss of independence, and inevitably, her death. But such is the case with Who Killed Mom? A Delinquent Son's Meditation on Family, Mortality and Very Tacky Candles, author Steve Burgess's sobering—and yes, hilarious—new book, as indicated by the somewhat cheeky subtitle. —Prairie Books NOW

(2011-09-01)

Like a Garrison Keillor of the Canadian Prairies, Burgess writes funny, unfiltered observations, anecdotes and character descriptions . . . This is a very funny book, worthy of a Leacock Medal for Humour. —Globe & Mail Top 100 (2011-11-28)

A touching—if decidedly and deliberately offbeat—family memoir . . . Expect to encounter laughs and tugs on the heartstrings in pretty much equal amounts. —Booklist

(2012-03-05)

In this witty and compassionate debut, Canadian broadcaster Burgess examines the life and death of his mother, Joan, and his own supposed role in her demise . . . Burgess honestly highlights the great ruthlessness of familial love, and the power of humor and storytelling to cope with life and death. —Publisher's Weekly

(2012-04-16)

Burgess's tale is part memoir, part autobiography, and part who-done-it and all-over fantastic . . . a fine work of serious literary value. —San Francisco Book Review

(2012-06-29)

About the Author

Steve Burgess is a writer and broadcater whose honours include two Canadian National Magazine awards.

Burgess is the former host of @the end, a nationally broadcast talk show on CBC Newsworld, and a frequent CBC Radio guest host.

Burgess' stories have been featured in Reader's Digest editions around the world, as well as Maclean's, the Globe & Mail, and other publications. Who Killed Mom? is his first book.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly Hilarious April 21 2011
By Dale
Format:Paperback
From the first time I read an article written by Steve Burgess back in 1994, I was hooked. I remember feeling certain that we were embarking on the discovery of Canada's answer to Dave Barry. So when I heard he was releasing a book, my first reaction included expectations that may have been borderline unfair. After all, it is his first. But as lofty as they were, apparently those unfair expectations may not have actually been high enough!

Going beyond his usual razor wit and inimitable observations, Who Killed Mom also has a level of depth and humility that is refreshing in today's 'me-first' culture. Funny and tearful, heartbreaking and uplifting, crushing and hopeful, this is much more than a simple narrative of a loving mother and the effect she had on the family she raised and loved. It also delves into the question of what makes us who we are, the heartbreak of the ultimate goodbye and how the bitter-sweet pain of the circle of life can provide an ironic sense of strength and inspiration to carry on. A beautiful, compelling, hilarious biography/memoir, it is a must read for anyone who has ever had the experience of being part of a family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Memoir Jan. 2 2014
By TJ
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've given this as a gift.
This amusing memoir reads quickly and made me laugh out loud. it' san entertaining glimpse into someone's family life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books ever Sept. 23 2012
By Zee
Format:Paperback
This book touched me in so many ways - being of the same vintage as the author, and from the prairies, I could relate well to many of his stories and how we were. Mom was the unsung hero, sorely missed when gone. The book took me from outright laughter to near-tears. The author's wit is sharp and full of surprises; his reflections and musings are insightful and wise. Thank you Steve Burgess!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read! April 22 2012
Format:Paperback
Through this wonderfully engaging story we meet Joan Burgess, whose life journey reflected the times through which she lived. A heartfelt, funny portrait of this minister's wife, homemaker, mother, teacher, and family and community lynchpin. More than just a good read, the characters in this memoir stay with you. A must read for any book club. Don't be fooled by the name: this would make a great Mother's Day gift!
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