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Family: American Writers Remember Their Own Hardcover – November 5, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (November 5, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679442472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679442479
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,016,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Collected here by the Fiffers, who previously collaborated on Home: American Writers Remember Rooms of Their Own, are 18 short original pieces by authors who recall family members who have had an impact on their lives. These essays, written from diverse cultural perspectives, are refreshingly free from sentimentality and present fully rounded human beings, with the exception of Whitney Otto (How to Make an American Quilt), who movingly describes her relationship with her cat. Writing in her grandmother's voice, Alice Hoffman (Second Nature) recounts the humorous and useful advice she received from this down-to-earth woman. Included also is a haunting account of the life and death of his mother by Chang-Rae Lee (Native Speaker), the story of Edwidge Danticat's (Krik? Krak!) hardworking father, who supports his family by driving a gypsy cab, and a memoir of his difficult and eccentric father by Geoffrey Wolff (Age of Consent). Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The Fiffers (Home: American Writers Remember Rooms of Their Own, Pantheon, 1995) have collected here 18 contemporary memoirs about "family values." Each focuses on a particular family member, with family interpreted broadly enough to include Whitney Otto's cat and Beverly Donofrio's neighbor. Two of the best pieces involve grandparents and food. Geoffrey Wolff raises interesting questions about family and memory as he revisits an episode with his father and brother that he treated more briefly in The Duke of Deception. Other highlights include Edwidge Danticat's portrait of her cab driver father and Bob Shacochis's painful tale of what he and his wife have been through in attempts to have a baby. Though most of these are original memoirs, the essay by Edward Hoagland has appeared before. Recommended for public libraries.?Mary Paumier Jones, Rochester P.L., N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jackie Reyenga on April 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Different from any college textbook I have ever read, Family: American Writers Remember Their Own, is at a personal level to the reader. The individual stories about the writers' family members are written to be familiar to oneself. My favorite story was Happy Blue Crabs by Jose Raul Bernardo. Jose Raul's grandfather, Maximillo, is a chef and since his family ate meat everyday, he would only cook seafood at his restaurant. One special evening, Maximillo invited Jose Raul into the kitchen with him. As a rule, Maximillo would only cook for men, as he himself was a man's man who had a "large passionate appetite for everything important in a man's life: caiman hunting, deep-sea fishing, great sex, and, of course, great food" (p 57). As a bonding experience, Jose Raul and his grandfather prepare a meal for the men. While in the kitchen, Grandpa Maximillo tries to explain to Jose Rail about the "ahhh moment" in one's life and how it can change your entire view of the world. "sometimes a sentence goes beyond just being clear. It becomes radiant. It illuminates your life. It may even change your life for good. And when that happens, that is poetry. That experience. That moment in your life" (p 61). This story is at a personal level for readers because it describes an event in every person's life: the point where both yourself and your parents recognize you as an adult. The reader will enjoy this book not only for the interesting and humorous stories, but also because he will be able to relate to the stories.
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By nataly on April 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I feel that the most important thing in any person's life should always be their family, I know mine always has and always will. There is nothing that I hold closer to my heart. This book, "Family: American Writers Remember Their Own," is for anyone who feels as I do that every relative, alive or passed, lives on forever, through memories, stories, pictures, and other belongings they left behind. Most people can recall family gatherings during which their relatives spend hours on end telling stories of a favorite deceased uncle, cousin, parent, and so on. Even if it is the same stories each gathering, they never get old or boring. They seem to be even more interesting or funny each and every time. The memory is an amazingly wonderful and powerful thing. It has the ability to bring passed on friends and family members back to life, to revive them. Such stories as are told in this remarkable book are our way to keep relatives and friends alive forever, to keep their teachings, stories, and beliefs as vivid and extraordinary as when first told or taught.
I cannot explain the extent to which I enjoyed and even cherished this collection of stories. It was assigned to me as part of the curriculum in my freshman English class at Florida State University. As with most books assigned in school, I dreaded it because I thought it would be boring and tedious to read it. However, once I read the first story assigned I was deeply moved and inspired. I truly grew to love the book and looked forward to reading the remaining stories. All of the stories are great. The tales seem to put you right into the story. They make you feel as if you are part of the family that is being talked about, as if it is your grandmother or father.
A couple of the stories stand out for me.
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Format: Paperback
Family-American Writers Remember Their Own, is a wonderful collection of stories, that contain very descriptive analogs of many cultured families. Throughout these stories you recieve general information, about the cultures and the families and many of the traditions that they take part in throughout their lives. Although, these stories are short and to the point they contain much description that leave one satisified.
Family, contains many stories that would attract a readers attention simply because they are stories in which we can relate too. For instance in My Famous Family, im sure at one point or another everyone has had to write some type of synoposes of their family, and have discovered something, about their family that they never knew of. That is excatly what took part in My Famous Family, although many of us, probably dont have many family members who have met Charlie Chapman, im sure we have members in our family who we feel are famous for one reason or another.
Another story that many relate to would be that of Sympathy, which tells the story, of the black-sheeped father. He was the member in the family whom everyone, did not understand, and did not have the patience to try and get to know. Another familiar situation that many families face.
All of these stories, are ones in which people are able to relate to in one way or another, therefore they capture the interest of the audience. It is a wonderful collection, of many amazing stories that are beautifully told.
One of my favorite shorty-stories would definitly have to be one of the more recent ones that I have read which would be Advice from my Mother. I enjoyed this story very much so, due to the fact that it wasn't necessarily a story but more of a detailed description of lifes little lessons.
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More About the Author

Memoir led to mystery for writer Sharon Fiffer

Before finding her inner Nancy Drew,Fiffer co-edited three collections of literary memoirs: Home, Family, and Body.

Editing the memoirs of others prompted her to write about her own childhood--growing up in the EZ Way Inn, her parents' tavern in Kankakee, Illinois. When she began creating the character of antiques picker and scavenger, Jane Wheel, she decided to merge her own memories with those of her fictional heroine, giving Jane a giant helping of her Kankakee childhood.

"It's great fun to rewrite one's childhood and work out all the humor and glitches and heartbreaks of being a grown-up daughter while also struggling to be a mother, a wife, a professional, and a friend. It's also fun to shop at garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets and estate sales--all in the name of research."

Sharon Fiffer admits to having a few collections of her own, but is happy to work out any obsessions with Bakelite buttons, crocheted potholders and vintage sterling silver charm bracelets on the pages of her novels.