A provocative memoir about coming to terms with not only the life and death of the author’s father, but also with writing about it as honestly as possible.
A prizewinning novelist in his native Spain, Torrente (The End of Love, 2013, etc.) has drawn from his own life in his fiction, and he admits that he used his writing as a “weapon” against the father who left his mother for another woman and whose contact with his son was infrequent for decades. “Triangulation, concealment, exaggeration, cross-contamination….The fact is that I used my father,” he writes. “The substance of the book grew out of our deepest misunderstandings.” However, he continues, “[f]iction, even when it’s inspired by reality, obeys its own rules. It alters reality by pursuing different ends than those of fidelity to the truth.” This, then, is a book about discovery, of new rules, of a different, more authentic voice than the one in the fiction. It’s also a book about how the relationship between father and son came full circle, with the former’s failing health and the latter assuming the role of primary caretaker. And it’s a book about the creative process—the father was a painter who experienced shifts in critical reception as his son’s career was on the rise—about blood ties and competition, and inevitably about the contemplation of one’s own mortality. “The dead leave sadness and not a few questions behind them,” writes Torrente. “They oblige us to contemplate our own death, and, at the same time, the futility of life, but in the face of the inarguable reality that everything comes to an end, that there’s no redemption, that what wasn’t done can no longer be done, our understanding fails us.” Unsentimental and unflinching, the book is also about a son’s love for his father and about the time lost to tension and estrangement that he wishes he had back.
A short memoir that moves readers on multiple levels.