Thursday, April 07, 2011

What is John Darnton reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: John Darnton, author of Almost a Family: A Memoir.

His entry begins:
Latest book was Flaubert's Sentimental Education, which I read for a book group (otherwise I probably would never have picked it up). It's a slow start and it's hard to sympathize with the main character -- almost all the characters, in fact -- but over some 460 pages, the satire takes a back seat and the story, about obsessive love, kicks in. By the...[read on]
About Almost a Family, from the publisher:
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and best-selling author: a beautifully crafted memoir of his lifelong chase after his father’s shadow.

John was eleven months old when his father, Barney Darnton—a war correspondent for The New York Times—was killed in World War II, but his absence left a more profound imprint on the family than any living father could have. John’s mother, a well-known Times reporter and editor, tried to keep alive the dream of raising her two sons in ideal surroundings. When that proved impossible, she collapsed emotionally and physically. But along the way she created such a powerful myth of the father-hero who gave his life for his family, country, and the fourth estate that John followed his footsteps into the same newsroom.

Decades after his father’s death, John and his brother, the historian Robert Darnton, began digging into the past to uncover the truth about their parents. To discover who the real-life Barney Darnton was—and in part who he himself is—John delves into turn-of-the-century farm life in Michigan, the anything-goes Jazz Age in Greenwich Village, the lives of hard-drinking war correspondents in the Pacific theater, and the fearful loneliness of the McCarthy years in Washington, D.C. He ends his quest on a beach in Papua New Guinea, where he learns about his father’s last moments from an aged villager who never forgot what he saw sixty-five years earlier.
Learn more about the author and his work at John Darnton's website.

The Page 99 Test: Almost a Family.

Writers Read: John Darnton.

--Marshal Zeringue