Saturday, June 15, 2019

Four "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:
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

In her opening chapter, Alison Bechdel describes her father as “an alchemist of appearance, a savant of surface, a Daedalus of decor” (potentially an alliterative reference to Geoffrey Wolff’s 1979 The Duke of Deception, itself a fantastic Bad Dad memoir). These titles refer to her father’s knack for home restoration, but also to his ability to maintain a double life: despite his marriage and three children, he was a gay man who had a particular interest in teenage boys.

Given these circumstances and her abundant skill, telling a linear, narratively boilerplate story would have made for a great book on its own. Instead, however, Bechdel opts for a delightfully complex structure—one that is self-consciously literary and deeply self-referential, with each narrative recursion adding more metaphorical and emotional nuance. Anyone who came of age in a library will see themselves in Bechdel to some extent, and those who did so due to family circumstances won’t be able to put her down.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue