Reminiscences of life with father don't idealize a family tyrant's lovable eccentricities, revealing instead the pain both parent and child suffer in the struggle to be men. The 91-year-old Edmonds (Drums Along the Mohawk, 1936, etc.) movingly evokes his boyhood in New York City and on a beloved family farm upstate. Walter Edmonds päre, a successful patent lawyer, married a woman some 20 years his junior who bore him three children. He was 53 years old when son Walter—called ``Watty'' —was born, the middle child. The family home was 18 West 11th Street (the infamous townhouse later blown up by 1960s radicals, Edmonds notes in an aside), but the clan's heart was at Northlands, the upstate dairy farm where parents and children adjourned each year from May to November. There, the two stubborn Walters had their most memorable clashes. One abusive autumn was recounted in Edmonds's novel, The South African Quirt (1985), but the essays here show both father and son at their most recalcitrant. ``Fishing with a Fly'' captures a young boy's excitement over his first fly rod—and his competitiveness with a father renowned for hunting and fishing prowess. (Father was so proud of an eight-and-a-quarter-pound trout caught on a fishing trip that when his eight-pound, three-ounce firstborn was presented to him, he reminded his wife that the trout was bigger.) Other essays depict a mother's lost love, a rebellion by the servants, and, finally, a burgeoning if tentative mutual respect between father and son reached as Watty left for college. Simple and simply told stories, capturing the constantly shifting sands of the father-son relationship and the appeal of life before the Depression.
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