HER FATHER: A Memoir by Bill Henderson


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The founder of the Pushcart Press and editor of its Pushcart Prize series writes a coming-of-middle-age memoir that gets as intimate as a memoir ought to. Opening with the death of his mother, Henderson recalls life as her son and the son of a father besotted with fundamentalist religion. His reaction, of course, was a bohemian life as an unpublished literary artist intoxicated with words. For this wannabe beat author of the great American novel, life in New York as the '60s turned into the '70s appeared to be one of unbridled venery, with a plentitude of screwing, booze, screwing, drugs, screwing, laughs, and genial copulation. The beau monde is described in a set piece about a visit to a sex palace that is less erotic than plain raunchy (and not particularly helpful to those who still hope for federal funding for the arts). All the while Henderson was yearning for Miss Right. Along with a few near-Miss Rights, he finally met her, and though her name was Annie, she looked a lot like Ellen Burstyn. His blood pressure became elevated. He suffered palpitations. He shipped books from his garage, the early offices of his Pushcart Press, and endured uxorious mishaps as he finally settled down with Annie and a Chesapeake retriever (named Ellen Burstyn). And the reprobate began a reformation. To the couple's eventual delight, Annie became pregnant, and after much prepartum bleeding, graphically reported, she gave birth to a daughter. Henderson rejoices in the evergreen miracle. Now his daughter is 11, and he has returned to a fervent religion of the buttonholing variety. He ends his story with the astonishment, common to every daddy, at the beauty and bravery, the wit and wisdom of his child, his wonderful child. Just this side of bathos, this is a heartfelt and affecting story of a scapegrace who achieved grace through the oldest of marvels, parenthood.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1888889160
Page count: 164pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber