My Aunt Helen was my favorite person in the whole world. She was my mom’s sister. She got straight A’s when she was a teenager and she used to give me books to read. My father said that the books were a little too old for me, but I liked them so he just shrugged and let me read.

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Are we willing to tolerate ignorance and complacency in matters that affect the entire human family?

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He loved his entire family, including his mother, but growing up with them had taught him that not every intimate detail needed to be shared. He hadn’t wanted to know that his parents had enjoyed a new sexual technique the night before or that his sisters had their periods. He hadn’t wanted to talk about his own sexual development or, back when he’d been a teenager, have his mother ask him, over breakfast, if he’d masturbated yet that day.

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Though auditing a class at the Sorbonne taught by Luce Irigaray and titled The Mother-Daughter Relationship: The Darkest of Dark Continents, Claire had followed maternal example by setting out guest towels.

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