These questions will plague certain readers-- those raised, I suspect, in a different sort of family. Evasion comes naturally to my tribe, this loose jumble of McGann, Devine and Breen. Thre reasons for this are not so mysterious. My father is a man of shameful habits. My mother is lace-curtain Irish. She will settle for correctness, or the appearance of it; but in her heart she wants only to be good. The space between them is criss-crossed with silent bridges, built of half-truths and suppressions. The chasm beneath is deep and wide.
Those same bridges exist across generations: my mother and her parents, my father and his. On both sides, we are a family of open secrets. When I was a child they enclosed my innocence like a tourniquet. Without knowing quite how I knew it, I understood what might be said, and what must be kept quiet. If from the outside the rules appeared arbitrary, from the inside they were perfectly clear.