A Good Ending for Bad Memories

Vailes Shepperd

In the 1860s, Lloyd Earl was an African American entrepreneur disguised as an enslaved carpenter who traveled nationwide with freedom papers forged by his own hand. Collector of the “comebacks,” Lloyd Earl built the first Negro Kitchen Library in the USA. His family and others like it were found on a list called The Curiously Successful Negro. A list kept in secret for more than 100 years by Harvard University!

Selsie, his wife, a slave known as “Two for the Price of One,” suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder, unnamed and undiagnosed at the time. In her small town, everyone knew Selsie. When she was limping and cooking, her potatoes were to die for. When she was smiling, her biscuits were dangerous.

A Good Ending for Bad Memories begins in 1958, when the first African American attaché and his family are posted to Cairo, Egypt. Perfect for his wife, Lloyd Earl and Selsie’s great granddaughter, “Mother,” an undiagnosed moody beauty with four distinct personalities of her own. Freed from the day-to-day responsibility of caring for her husband and children, Mother spends her time sifting through memory in search of the cause of her disorder which lies deep within the family’s past.

Mother’s grandmother and Great Grandmother Selsie murdered the men who attempted to take family property. Selsie poisoned the pudding and hid the evidence among her four personalities. Mother has inherited Selsie’s recipes and her disease. Now she must grapple with her own startling legacy and that of her children.

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