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MAKING TOAST by Roger Rosenblatt


A Family Story

by Roger Rosenblatt

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-182593-4
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

A father grieves over the stunning loss of his 38-year-old daughter, who died in 2007 of a rare, undetected heart condition while exercising at home.

Rosenblatt (English and Writing/Stony Brook Univ.; Beet, 2008, etc.), who has excelled in nearly every literary form—journalism, drama (six Off-Broadway plays), nonfiction and fiction—now adorns the memoir genre with a graceful, slim but piercing tale of loss and its sometimes grievous, sometimes ennobling effects. The author describes his daughter, a pediatrician with three children and loving husband, in tender tones. The extended family seems remarkably cohesive and affectionate, with a fondness for irony and humor. Rosenblatt and his wife, Ginny, moved into their daughter’s in-law apartment in their home and assumed as many useful roles as possible. They taxied children, cooked, cleaned, ran errands, etc. The title derives from one of the author’s morning tasks—making the children’s breakfast. Though deeply wounded by tragedy, Amy’s family was financially fortunate—able to afford private schools, a child psychotherapist and a nanny 12 hours per day, five days per week, as well as a retreat to the elder Rosenblatts’ capacious and quiet summer home in Quogue. The author rarely discusses how fortune—financial and otherwise—eased their awful burden. Although the flow of the text has a gentle current, it frequently shifts and bends and obeys a psychological rather than a chronological imperative. Rosenblatt employs the urgent present tense as he relates how he and the others cope, but for Amy he must use the painful past. There is plenty of hugging and tears, but thankfully no mawkishness or emotional manipulation.

Through the glass of the author’s transparent style we see all the sharp and soft contours of grief.