It was suggested that I might want to consider writing a memoir of
my father. The thought has remained with me. I could do it; for my own peace and the edification of my family even if, as is likely the case, it were never published.
As I contemplated the idea I started looking for fatherhood memoirs; books written as tributes to fathers from their children and very soon now I should be receiving at least a couple at my front door. But while I wait, I decided to dig a little more, and research reviews or obscure books that may not have been as well known which fit the genre.That’s when I ran across this Guardian article from 2013.
As I dug into the article and the synopses of the fatherhood memoirs which the author labeled among the “10 best”, I found that I was frozen with the idea of writing such a book. The glimpses of the books presented seemed to indicate that the children of the men explored felt compelled to tell all sides of the story, no matter how unpleasant their memories of their fathers seemed to be. I wondered where the admonition to honor your father fit into all of that. The author put it thus:
The concept of father memoirs is a fascinating one. Confronting fathers directly and publicly is not, and never has been, easy: the patriarch should judge and not be judged. To write about the father is to sit in judgment upon him, and for most cultures this was a taboo too strong to be overcome. The Greeks, despite their searingly perceptive stories about father-child interactions, did not attempt to do so – nor did the Romans, the Italians of the Renaissance, the Elizabethans or even the Romantics. Paradoxically – but not surprisingly, given the rigid paternalism of the age and the attendant psychological pressures – personal father writing, like radical feminism, is a product of the Victorian era.
In 1907, six years after the death of Queen Victoria, Edmund Gosse published Father and Son. Once the taboo was broken, writers were quick to take advantage of the new possibilities. The 20th century saw a steady increase in the number of father memoirs and, now that the boomers are ageing and seeking to immortalise themselves, such memoirs are becoming as ubiquitous as tattoos. As with tattoos, some are visceral works of art.
I look forward to reading and reviewing at least two of the fatherhood memoirs listed as the summer months unfold, as well as this one which I find particularly intriguing.
The twists and turns of life have opened me up to a genre of writing I never would have considered 3 months ago.
That is the power of the written word.