The Pulitzer Prize–winning fiction writer tells what he knows of the marriage of his loving parents—and what he can never know, as the only child who came between them.
This is a memoir that seems to have been written more for Ford (Let Me Be Frank with You, 2014, etc.) than for his readers, and it reveals as much about the writer as it does about his parents. Neither of these observations implies fault, only that the renowned novelist recognizes how the selection of detail and the limitations of memory inform a narrative and how the writer’s craft inevitably makes the results as much about the writer (and his craft) as his subject. By any standards, this is a singular volume, as peculiarly personal as it is slim. There are two sections, one devoted to each parent: “Gone: Remembering My Father” and “My Mother, In Memory.” The second was written three decades before the first, shortly after his mother’s death. Ford’s father had died much earlier, leaving his mother alone in the world to raise the son she loved, but not in the way she had loved his father. “He was her protector, but she was his,” writes the author. “If it meant that I was further from the middle of things, I have lived my entire life thinking this is the proper way to be a family.” There is some duplication in the material, the few incidents that seemed so significant in the life of each of his parents, recollected separately across a gap of three decades. There is also conjecture, as Ford imagines the lives of each before they met each other—and their life together before they had the child who would change everything. “For all this to be a blissful life,” writes the author, “love is certainly required, and a willingness—on my part—to fill some things in and deflect others.”
A subtle, careful testament to devotion and a son’s love for his parents.