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Here’s an excerpt from Bono’s upcoming memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

Bono is stumping for the release of Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, a memoir that will be out in this November. The New Yorker published this excerpt.

have very few memories of my mother, Iris. Neither does my older brother, Norman. The simple explanation is that, in our house, after she died she was never spoken of again.

I fear it was worse than that. That we rarely thought of her again.

We were three Irish men, and we avoided the pain that we knew would come from thinking and speaking about her.

Iris laughing. Her humor black as her dark curls. Inappropriate laughing was her weakness. My father, Bob, a postal worker, had taken her and her sister Ruth to the ballet, only to have her embarrass him with her muted howls of laughter at the protruding genitalia boxes worn by the male dancers under their leotards.

I remember, at around seven or eight, I was a boy behaving badly. Iris chasing me, waving a long cane that her friend had promised would discipline me. Me, frightened for my life as Iris ran me down the garden. But when I dared to look back she was laughing her head off, no part of her believing in this medieval punishment.

I remember being in the kitchen, watching Iris ironing my brother’s school uniform, the faint buzz of my father’s electric drill from upstairs where he was hanging a shelf he’d made. Suddenly the sound of his voice, screaming. An inhuman sound, an animal noise. “Iris! Iris! Call an ambulance!”

Racing to the bottom of the stairs, we found him at the top, holding the power tool, having apparently drilled into his own crotch. The bit had slipped, and he was frozen stiff with fear that he might never be stiff again. “I’ve castrated myself!” he cried.

I was in a state of shock at seeing my father, the giant of 10 Cedarwood Road, fallen like a tree. And I didn’t know what that meant. Iris knew what it meant, and she was shocked, too, but that wasn’t the look on her face. The look on her face was the look of a beautiful woman suppressing laughter, then the look of a beautiful woman failing to suppress laughter as it took hold of her. Peals of laughter like those of a bold girl in church whose efforts not to commit sacrilege just make for a louder eruption when it finally arrives.

She reached for the telephone, but she couldn’t get it together to dial 999; she was bent double with laughter. Da made it through his flesh wound. Their marriage made it through the incident. The memory made it home.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38340 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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