Saturday, June 15, 2019

Four good "bad dad" memoirs

Andrew G. S. Thurman is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. He is working on a book about his father. At LitHub he tagged four good Bad Dad memoirs, including:
Frank Conroy, Stop-Time

Michael Chabon refers to Stop-Time as the “great grandaddy” of literary memoir. He’s not quite right—Conroy was just one member of a larger movement legitimizing the artistic merit of nonfiction—but Stop-Time is still a model for young memoirists for a reason.

Between his father’s insanity, his stepfather’s incompetent grifting, and his mother’s ambivalence, Conroy is effectively forced to raise himself. He does so with grace, becoming a charismatic and effortlessly funny young man good at having his back to the wall—which, throughout the narrative, it often is.

By the end of the book, however, we begin to see a sad truth take shape: the comedic tic that defines him is not just a personality trait and storytelling device, but also a coping mechanism for latent trauma. What emerges is a surprisingly bitter ending from a work that otherwise seems to pride itself on being wry and detached.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue