Charnas's memoir of her father Robin's demise begins with the flashbulb moment where she realizes he can't live independently anymore. She asks him to read back the telephone number she has just given him and he responds simply "I didn't get it... I can't see to write it down." Charnas recalls, "I got a sinking feeling. My father was living in a loft on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan. I now lived in an adobe house in Albuquerque. My husband and I were launching new careers.... There was no money to spare for flying back and forth to New York." Charnas, a Nebula Award-winning science fiction and fantasy novelist, barely hesitates before inviting Robin, whom she hardly knew as a child, to come live in the "in-law" cottage next to her own home. What follows is a moving, thoughtful, sometimes tedious but never sentimental account of how daughter and father get to know each other in middle and old age. Book One lingers a bit too long on Charnas's childhood and opaque, rambling excerpts from Robin's journals. It's clear that she's just trying to paint a clear picture of her curmudgeonly father. But Book Two, which chronicles Robin's time in a nursing home, is much stronger. Here, Robin's unique combination of eccentricity and strength speaks for itself, especially when he's quietly holding hands with his new girlfriend, Jane. Charnas's story is bound to be a guidebook and an inspiration for anyone caring for aging parents. (Oct. 1) Forecast: Blurbs from Tony Hillerman and Peter Straub could make this popular among baby boomers.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When science fiction author Charnas realizes her artist-father can no longer remain alone in his Greenwich Village loft, she has him live with her and her husband in an "in-law" adobe on their Albuquerque property. That final homecoming, far from his beloved New York, is the focus of his daughter's memoir, one rich with flashbacks to her baffling divorce, her childhood, and her sister's relationship with their father, the most difficult man in her life. In the present, Charnas' father refuses to wash his long, greasy hair; he fears that to do so will result in baldness, but what does result is cradle cap, a scalp infection associated with poor hygienic care of infants. He manages to drive--barely--and relies increasingly on Charnas for trips to the grocery store within the narrow time frame when he will be sure to find blueberry muffins there. Throughout, Charnas' beautifully written rendering of this father-daughter duo's humanity holds our attention on the sometimes elusive, often baffling bonds that make a family. Whitney Scott
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