Sister Zero: A Memoir (Hardcover)
In Sister Zero, a woman who never wanted children suddenly becomes a mother to her nine-year-old nephew after her sister commits suicide at age 34. Fifteen years later, the boy will also kill himself and in almost exactly the same manner.
Sister Zero is narrated through short prose sections and snippets of "advice" from Mister Ed (of the old television show), while Nance Van Winckel exhumes the sisters' shared childhood for missed clues, interrogates memory's accuracy, and interacts with a mother who's disappearing into late-stage Alzheimer's.
As the shock of these deaths ripples out, the book progresses in swift strokes between the tough and tender, often staring stony-eyed at a terrifying moment, then jumping forward or backward in time to a moment of quiet humor.
Each chapter begins with an altered page from the Official Guide to the 1964 World's Fair: collages Van Winckel made as testaments to that touchstone event in New York when the sisters were children, a time she realized how huge the world was, how vastly different other countries and cultures were from her own. The Fair was all about the future, its bright and happy promises. She and her now-dead sister rode a ride called "tunnel to the future." The sister was scared; our narrator was not.