Arts Literature

Book Feature: Momma’s Lost Piano

David Madden, Author

Among the books that prolific Black Mountain author David Madden has written is a recent memoir about his mother, Emily Merritt, titled Momma’s Lost Piano. The book stands out for the impressionistic touch Madden uses in recreating his mother’s memories aided by his own imagination. “This is a memoir of a creative son’s relationship with his divorced, hardworking mother who raised three boys, two of whom were in and out of prisons, and lost a fourth son at 11 months old,” Madden says.

When it came to reconstructing her life for the book, Madden relied upon memory, imagination and letters. “My mother’s style of letter-writing was riveting, and I have kept hundreds of her letters to me from my childhood to her death in 1999, as well as her letters to my grandmother and other family members,” he says. “As a family, we constitute an archive of recorded and spoken memories.”

At 90, Madden has published 64 books. His mother also figures prominently in a previous novel titled Bijou, which, he says, she read twice when it was published.

Momma’s Lost Piano, May, 2023, memoir, paperback, $29.95, by David Madden, and published by The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. Learn more at

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