FATHERS: Daughters, Sons, Fathers Reveal Their Deepest Feelings by Robert Meister

FATHERS: Daughters, Sons, Fathers Reveal Their Deepest Feelings

Email this review


The focus here is on the subjective experience of fathering and being fathered--via 16 stories, distilled from 213 interviews, and told usually from the points of view of father plus one or more children. The histories themselves make interesting enough (even horrifying) reading, but two factors stack the deck as far as conclusions are concerned: an overreliance on the unusual or the extreme (inherited riches, concentration-camp survival), and an admittedly arbitrary, often overlapping, categorization scheme. For example: a famous conductor who torments his son into becoming a brilliant pianist is labeled ""tyrannical, demanding,"" while a famous chef who goads his son to follow in his footsteps (with miniature pots and pans even in the playpen) is termed ""macho, competitive."" To be fair, there are differences; the conductor's son hated the piano and his father was not a gifted pianist, while the chef's son really loved cooking and, it is hinted, may have been yanked from that career because he was competing too successfully with his father. But whether such differences warrant separate treatment here is questionable. Other categories include fathers who are seductive--more in terms of courting behavior toward their daughters, usually, than incestuous inclinations; who are bizarre (a self-proclaimed ""amoral hedonist"" introduces his son to the pleasures of sadomasochism); and who are distant or silent--to Meister, the most destructive type of all. In each case the subjects are described through the author's eyes, their points of view generally paraphrased; and though this heightens the drama, its contribution to a true understanding of father-child relationships is minimal.

Pub Date: May 18th, 1981
Publisher: Marek--dist. by Putnam