FATHERS AND SONS by David Seybold


An Anthology
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 An anthology of 23 stories, essays, and poems--many original, some previously published--which dramatizes an intergenerational subject that's receiving a great deal of attention because of the so-called men's movement. Here, the father-son problem is approached from a variety of angles. All of the writers are men, and selections range from perennials like Donald Hall to newcomers. Hall is represented by both a poem (``My Son My Executioner'') and an affectionate sketch (``An Arc of Generations'') about a loving father and baseball. Most of these pieces, in fact, veer toward celebration and nostalgic elegy rather than bitterness or anger. Joseph McElroy's story, ``Night Soul,'' is, predictably, postmodernist--a Proustian evocation as a father stands besides his son's crib, bonding with his son. Dan Gerber's ``Last Words'' is a deathbed scene--again, little recrimination or Eugene O'Neill anguish, only sadness. In ``Notes for a Life Not My Own,'' by Verlyn Klinkenborg, a man imagines the texture of his still-living father's life, just as Wesley McNair's poem ``After My Stepfather's Death'' does the same in verse. The best stories, because they dramatize a more complex world, include Kent Nelson's ``The Middle of Nowhere,'' in which an adolescent son moves into a trailer with his womanizing father and finds himself attracted to his dad's latest live-in lover; William Kittredge's ``Three-Dollar Dogs,'' about a Montana narrator who comes to understand how bittersweet and complicated life can be when he witnesses his grandfather's decline in a home for the aged, even as the old man fabricates tales of derring-do; and Robert Olmstead's ``Into the Cat,'' a backwoods tale set in South Georgia. ``My father taught me the boundaries and burdens...,'' a Rick Bass character says; men would do well, after the literary polemic of Iron John, to turn to this evocative collection.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8021-1368-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1992


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