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Every Father's Daughter: Twenty-four Women Writers Remember Their Fathers Hardcover – April 9, 2015
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A collection of essays on the father-daughter dynamic. Editor and novelist McMullan (Literature and Writing/Univ. of Evansville; Sources of Light, 2010, etc.) presents 24 ways of "knowing" one's father by accomplished, independent daughters, each with a folksy introduction to help situate the relationship in place and time. For many of these authors, the father was a tall, handsome, impossibly romantic character in the family, removed from the quotidian, often remote, and whose approval the daughters tried to maintain. In a twist on this theme, Jane Smiley writes how ultimately relieved she was not to know her father who perhaps suffered from PTSD and divorced her mother when the author was a toddler because his absence allowed her the space to grow up "free of preconceptions." Some of the contributors offer reminiscences following their fathers' deaths e.g., Jill McCorkle in "My Dad." In "My Father's Daughter," Bliss Broyard fills in a deeper portrait of her philandering, brilliant, bookish father by talking to his lively, lifelong best friends in Greenwich Village, concluding ruefully that she should have paid more attention to her father when he was alive. Melora Wolff offers an excellent view of the glamorous world of visiting fathers from the first-person, plural view of young ladies at New York City's Brearley School, while Barbara Shoup describes her father's vanishing into alcoholism in her excruciating essay "Waiting for My Father." Throughout, fathers often represent the world of work, whether in the "special places"; like the gambling house that Maxine Hong Kingston describes in "The American Father"; or the sacred writing den that was strictly off limits to boisterous children, as depicted in Alexandra Styron's "Reading My Father." Other contributors include Jayne Anne Phillips, Antonya Nelson, Ann Mason and Alice Munro, and Phillip Lopate provides the introduction. Consistently elucidating portraits. --Kirkus Reviews
Without shying away from the painful parts of life, this anthology celebrates the role of fathers in their daughters' lives.
Every Father's Daughter: Twenty-Four Women Writers Remember Their Fathers, selected and presented by novelist Margaret McMullan, is a heartfelt, honest look at the father---daughter relationship.
The book is full of fondness, beginning with McMullan's experiences, but disappointment and hurt are inherent in all relationships, and that seems especially true with fathers and daughters. Yet, on the whole, this collection is compassionate and eschews bitterness. It doesn't shy away from the painful parts of life and the failures of fathers. Overall, it is a celebration of the role of fatherhood and a celebration of self---we are who we are, the authors seem to echo, because of our fathers: who they were and who they weren't.
Each chapter is written by a different writer, and the chapters are grouped by three larger themes: "Absences," "Lost & Found," and "Presences." These ideas, in addition to the general theme of father-daughter relationships, unify and give shape to the book. As no two relationships are alike, no two of the women's voices are alike. The sole male voice, the introduction by Phillip Lopate, gives a more distant, overarching picture of the father-daughter bond--tracing linguistic, gender, and sociological facets.
McMullan includes Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, and essayists, journalists, novelists, and writers of various levels of acclaim, and seems to include every literary prize and professional writing achievement. About ten of the selections have been previously published, but the bulk of the anthology is new material.
This book will be most enjoyable for adult women who are grappling with, cherishing, searching for, or remembering their fathers. These women's voices will also give fathers--young, old, and in between--insight into how their lives and presence affect their daughters.
In this anthology, nearly every daughter will find a voice that resonates with her own paternal relationship. --Foreword Reviews
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As I finished the book, I recalled this quote from Rumi: “The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” McMullan has succeeded in reassembling our individual broken truths into a clearer reflection of humanity.
Every Father’s Daughter is a collection of more than twenty women telling about their fathers. Each story is unique, beautiful, heartbreaking, happy or sad and will touch you on their own way. It will be easy for you to relate with one or more of the stories.
The editor did a wonderful job introducing each one of the stories and her own story told at the beginning of the book not only gives meaning and purpose to the book but also it's a wonderful piece about how much she loves her father.
The writing quality is excellent, each woman has her own voice and you can feel the power emanating from the words. It’s not easy to rate or review when people are telling their personal experiences, when they are exposed and vulnerable and their lives are out at our disposal. However, these women as most women in the world are not afraid to share this with the readers.
Whether your father is a constant loving figure in your life or a stranger passing by, fathers shape who we are and you can see this in each story. And as only real life can offer we have a magical mix of scenarios and outcomes, from loving fathers to the ones who let alcohol or work ruin their lives, victims of abuse, immigrants, war veterans and more.
I could say a lot more about this collection but I think you should discover it by yourself. If memories and real stories are something you enjoy, Every Father’s Daughter might be the book for you.
*** I received a complimentary copy in exchange of an honest review. ***
EVERY FATHER'S DAUGHTER was born of the close relationship of the editor with her ailing father. She sat at his bedside wiping his brow, tending to his needs, all while reading stories and essays of their favorite authors aloud. To say this is a beautiful moment of caregiving, a tenuous bond of humanity it putting it mildly. When in fact, what the daughter really wanted at this time was a collection of short stories about the father-daughter relationship...and when that book just doesn't exist, why, it's time to write your own.
Compiled from esteemed writers such as Jane Smiley, Alice Munro, Joyce Maynard, this anthology is equally heart-warming and heart-wrenching. In all 24 stories, fathers from all walks of life are represented: from abusive to companionable, to distant and indifferent, to perhaps even slightly enmeshed. We walk along with these women in their coming-of-age, their young families, and even into their foster homes.
And the writing is pretty darn top-notch. But then again, what would you expect from this group of women?
I loved how the editor (Margaret McMullan) shared a brief introduction of each writer/essay, including how she knew the writer, or how the essay landed on her desk.
My only complaint is that, it is not exactly a read-to-the-end kind of book, but instead one in which the reader may pick and choose stories here and there, depending on mood, time, and her overall relationship with her father.
I'm going for 4.5 stars here: "Really, really liked it.
Find all of my reviews, as well as author interviews at www.leslielindsay.com
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