Author Kelly Corrigan on Glitter and Glue Part 1: Understanding Mom


Listening to writer Kelly Corrigan, whose latest book Glitter and Glue released this month, talk about her family is a little bit like listening to a stand-up comedy routine. When riffing about her mom and dad, Corrigan immediately slides into well-worn impersonations of each, offering a loving glimpse into the family themes that drive her books.

We first met the Corrigan family in The Middle Place, the author’s 2008 memoir detailing the emotional fallout of two cancer diagnoses—both Corrigan’s and her father, George Corrigan’s. While a story of family, The Middle Place reads as a touching homage to her dad—or “Greenie”, as everyone who knows the larger-than-life patriarch of the Corrigan clan calls him. “The thing you need to know about me,” the author wrote in the book’s opening lines, “is that I am George Corrigan’s daughter, his only daughter.” Her next book, Lift, published in 2010, Corrigan paid loving tribute to her role as a mother to her own two daughters.

Now, with Glitter and Glue, the subject turns to Kelly’s mother, Mary Corrigan. While growing up in suburban Philadelphia, Corrigan saw her mother as stoic and strict; the serious foil to her father’s over-the-top gregariousness. She was certainly less fun, a fate Mary Corrigan openly acknowledged to her kids when she told them, “your father’s the glitter, but I’m the glue.”

“My mother is just a different kind of person,” Corrigan said in our Bibliostar.TV interview, adopting her Mary Corrigan voice. “She is not trying to make you like her. She doesn’t need you. She doesn’t need any new friends. She has a great routine that she likes to do each and every day. And for the first 35 years of my life I was trying to change her and make her more like my father. More lovable. I wanted to change her interface.

“And I got over it.”

As the book describes, the process of “getting over it” began during Corrigan’s post-college trip to Australia where she hoped to see the world, start living, and, in her words, “become interesting.” When her travel funds dried up, she was forced to find a job–or risk having to crawl home and acknowledge failure in her quest to become a person of substance. With no other choice, she took a job as a nanny for a recently widowed father and his young family attempting to carry on without their recently deceased mother. As time passed with the family, and as Corrigan became more comfortable, she began to feel an acute sense of the vital and complex role her own mother played, and the beauty and nobility that comes with being the glue.

“I think people enable each other and I also think people more than enable each other they kind of create each other. You adjust to the reality of your partner in this parenting game,” Corrigan said. “The older I get, the longer I’ve been married and the older my children get the more I have a sense of how she balanced the equation.”

For more Kelly Corrigan, watch Part 2 of our interview below, or watch the full feature here.

Related Videos

Author Kelly Corrigan on Glitter and Glue Part 2: Writing motherhood, Guess Jeans, and the strictest mom in Radnor Township

Kelly Corrigan and Mary Corrigan: You Never Stop Being a Mom


Recorded at Book Expo America, New York, 2013.
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