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Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home--A Memoir Hardcover – May 13, 2008


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Funderburg, author of the highly acclaimed Black, White, Other (1994), accompanied her dying father on his annual journey from Philadelphia to the small town of Monticello, Georgia, where he owned a family farm. He was a gentleman farmer, employing others to work his 126-acre farm in a town where the number of black farmers was dwindling. Funderburg details her father’s obsession with securing a pig to test his new roasting device and his chemotherapy treatments for prostrate cancer, which had returned after 15 years of remission. But at the root of their visit is a revisiting of the family and town history. Her grandfather was a physician and, like most of the family, fair-skinned enough to pass for white. They, too, felt the restrictions and cruelty of racism, though her grandfather’s coloring and profession gave him the status to challenge racism. Her father had a similar disposition, and his bitterness about the racial struggle created an emotional distance the author was only able to overcome in her father’s latter years. As she reveals her family’s complex history, Funderburg reveals the complexities of American racism. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"Pig Candy is a candid and moving memoir of a daughter's deep love for her father both when he is most difficult to love and impossible not to. Unforgettable and powerful, we are changed for the better by every page of it." -- Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I'm Dying

"With Pig Candy, Lise Funderburg has achieved something very remarkable in contemporary memoir: a personal narrative that is crisply intelligent rather than cleverly self-satisfied, deeply and meaningfully emotional rather than soppily sentimental. Even better, she has used her considerable powers -- of private observation, of social empathy, and of historical imagination -- to transform an already gripping personal narrative into an overwhelming parable about race, family, and mortality. A wonderful book." -- Daniel Mendelsohn, author of The Lost

"With a daughter's compassion and a journalist's precision, Lise Funderburg recounts the final years of her father's life on his farm in Georgia. But Pig Candy is more than simply the story of George Newton Funderburg. It's an extraordinary portrait of how a difficult place shapes a man, how a daughter loves a challenging father, and how the act of remembering even the most painful aspects of our personal and collective histories can make us whole." -- Bliss Broyard, author of One Drop --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416547665
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416547662
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,715,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lise Funderburg's latest book is a memoir and social history called "Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home" (Free Press), which is a contemplation of life, death, and barbecue. Her first book was a collection of oral histories, "Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk about Race and Identity," the first to explore the lives of adult children of black-white unions. She has been a regular contributor since 2001 to O, the Oprah Magazine and has written a book about the Tony-winning musical "The Color Purple." Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared widely in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, Salon, National Geographic, More, and other publications.

Funderburg won a 2003 Nonfiction Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a 2014 fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. She has twice been selected as the writer-in-residence at The James Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio, and has received grants from the Dick Goldensohn Fund for Journalists, The Leeway Foundation, and the Puffin Foundation. Funderburg has been awarded residencies at The Blue Mountain Center and the MacDowell Colony. She teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers and lives in Philadelphia.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Especially for the healing professions.
NYC Mom
I just finished reading "Pig Candy" and what a touching and moving book it was.
Amazon Customer
A beautiful book in content, feel, and the writing.
CPW

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dera R Williams VINE VOICE on July 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lise Funderburg wrote a moving memoir in tribute to her dying father in Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home--A Memoir. The author of Black, White, Other details the last few years of her father's life and the dynamics of their relationship during their travels to rural Jasper County, Georgia, George Funderburg's hometown. Funderburg had a distant relationship with her father for most of her life. She always felt she had to walk on eggshells around him, even as a little girl. George was a demanding, sometimes impossible man who intimidated those around him. Funderburg made the trek with her father several times to his Monticello, Georgia farm from the East Coast where the layers of his life and legacy were revealed to his daughter, peeled away like an onion, sometimes with tears.

George's father, Frederick Douglas Funderburg, was the town doctor who served both the black and white communities beginning in the 1920s. His illustrious climb from rural roots in Alabama to entry into the Columbia University medical program and then tenure in an all-white medical corps in the U.S. Military was possible because of his white-looking appearance. The Funderburgs were of the elite Monticello African American community because of Dr. Funderburg's stature and his keen business acumen at a time of Jim Crow racism and perilous race relations.

George Funderburg attended segregated schools and attended Morehouse College, a men's black college in Atlanta, married twice and had a family while accumulating wealth through lucrative real estate and business ventures in Philadelphia.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lukelover on June 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
no plot review could do the magic of this book justice--because it's not so much what happens: pickling peaches, say, or, visiting doctors, diners, and rib purveyers. it's the comedic timing, the brilliant, telling details and writing so fine that you can't get through more than a dozen pages without underlining a sentence or two. also, lise is a reliable and honorable narrator who helps you now only understand her relationships but create your own with the complete and complicated characters in the book. it's just too good not to read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Cross on May 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
George Newton Fundenberg is a cantankeous, opionated, black man from rural Georgia who married a white woman, moved to the North, became a successful real estate broker and is the proud father of three daughters. He is difficult to get along with and even more difficult to please. His daughter, Lise, is determined to do just that, get along with and please him before he dies. In the process, she is introduced to the Southern tradition of roasted pig (pig candy), Southern hospitality and Jim Crow laws. This is a beautifully written, vividly painted memoir and a worthwhile read in its own right. Anyone who has dealt with an aging, ailing parent will identify with Lise's struggles and preserverance to bring her relationship with her father to a healthy but loving closure for both of them.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mary Howard on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home--A Memoir

Never, not ever, not Amy Tan, not Toni Morrison, not any of my
favorites (not even Alice Walker) has shown the ability to expose
herself--to bare her proverbial soul, while respecting boundaries;
those of her self, her subjects, her family and her readers. I have
never known any writer, of any gender, to speak so truly and deeply
from within, in such a matter of fact manner while conveying
unparrelled integrity, and without manipulation of the readers' emotions.
No preaching, no judgment; just accessible values and hopefulness, as
if it is an easy, everyday thing to do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bookalicious on December 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the novel Pig Candy Lise Funderburg pays tribute to her terminally ill, stroke-impaired father. She recalls the details from their annual trips from his retirement community in Pennsylvania to his summer farm house in Georgia. George Newton Funderburg was a complex man with a colorful background and a thorny past. His life experiences are marked by times of segregated schools, `White's Only' signs and KKK threats. Lise wondered why she and her two sisters had such restricted childhoods but more than that she wanted desperately to get to know her father after years of disconnect. As an aside here, I can relate to the strict upbringing, but now that I'm a parent myself I can look back on it as a form of protection.

Lise reflects on her father's skewed psyche,

"My father won't let Margaret close all of the sunroom blinds to August's wilting midday heat. You can close most of them, he says, as long as you leave two or three open. I want to be able to see the Klan sneaking up on us. He is joking and he is not joking."

Lise puts on a brave face and deals with her father's cancer and cantankerous manner, all the while trying to gain some much needed closure to their strained relationship. George's e-mail is a good example of his headstrong nature.

Subject: Eddie Frank's Ungracious Behavior.

dear Jackie and Eddie,

it is distressing to have to write this e-mail about eddie's confrontational, ungracious behavior toward one of my guest invited to fish on our lake.

it may be that we can straighten this outwhen i return in about two weeks, I hope so, how ever to emphaxize my position, let me suggest that eddie not, fish on our pond until we do straighten this out.
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