The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit Hardcover – Sep 27 2011
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A Globe and Mail Best Book
“A personal yet universal story about a son’s quest to understand his father. This beautiful, cleverly executed story gets to the very heart of the most basic masculine bond, and how even through disappointment, abandonment, anger, confusion and pain, a son can love, honour and protect his father.”
—Globe and Mail
“Beautifully crafted, Lee’s memoir is a heartbreaking page-turner about a family, an abusive father, and men’s fashion. Who could have thought these themes could work together? In his first book, Lee has shown us how.”
—Jury citation, Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
“Lee seamlessly weaves together elements of painful personal experience, fashion history, and his modern-day quest to learn the art of tailoring and find a place for himself in the world. . . . An intimate and thoughtful rumination on what it means to be a son, a father, and a man.”
“An exquisite book.”
“Touching and inquisitive . . . [A] striking and accomplished blend of humour, information and pathos. . . . [A] thoughtful and intermittently provocative memoir.”
“A deftly crafted memoir. . . .”
“At times incredibly witty and wry, and at other times endearing and touching . . . The Measure of a Man is a great read.”
—Tenth to the Fraser
“[An] often heartbreaking yet humorous and compelling memoir. . . .”
“Takes us into the nearly vanished world of exquisite, made-to-measure suit tailoring, and on his personal journey to understand his late father’s life and the sometimes-tormented relationship the two shared. . . . His tender, sometimes funny and often achingly sad story revolves around a suit left behind after his father’s death, and his desire to remake it into something that would fit him. I loved this book for its honest tone as well as for the spicy tidbits of suit-making history with which he seasons his story. . . .”
—Chronicle Herald (Halifax)
“Lee’s book skillfully weaves a personal struggle to understand his estranged father after his death through the process of repurposing his dad’s suit to fit his smaller frame. . . . Truly inspires.”
“A graceful, compelling memoir. . . . A thoughtful, loving and honest narrative, elegant in its clarity and observation.”
—Minneapolis-Saint Paul Star Tribune
About the Author
JJ LEE is the menswear columnist for the Vancouver Sun and broadcasts a weekly fashion column for CBC Radio in Vancouver. He spent a year as an apprentice at Modernize Tailors and was featured in the award-winning film about
the shop, Tailor Made: The Last Tailor Shop in Chinatown. In 2007, he wrote and presented an hour-length radio documentary on the social history of suits, entitled The Measure of Man, for CBC Radio's Ideas. Lee lives in New Westminster, where he works as a creative consultant for a design firm.
Top Customer Reviews
Lee elaborates the history of the suit while trying to physically remake his father's own suit when he worked as an apprentice. As he literally tears apart and reassembles the suit, the memories start to flow, and the troubled past of the elder Lee is summoned up.
It's not pretty; in fact, it is often harrowing: the domestic violence, the drinking, his father's affairs, his on-going economic woes and the numerous, literal, car crashes. These episodes underlie, I think, what appears to be the author's emotional fragility and his conflicted feelings about masculinity. And, throughout, one sees that the elder Lee's sartorial style, its ascendancy or decline, often reflected his economic and psychological state. Not surprisingly, prosperity and well being = attention to fashion and one's person. Psychological chaos and economic disorder = more slovenly behavior and attire.
Lee also unravels for the novice intriguing bits of menswear history in minutia: the tie points down to specific part of the male anatomy (I never thought of it that way!Read more ›
Editor of Fathers: A Literary Anthology
The Measure of a Man is great for women readers who are interested in a memoir about family relationships as well as curious about men's fashion. JJ offers lots of little insights into why certain buttons are buttoned or not buttoned and where women go wrong in "helping" men with their wardrobe. And it's great for men who might be drawn to the sartorial education provided in the pages but also curious about how the suit makes the man and how the anxieties of trying to measure up or measure yourself against your father are faced in this particular story.
Most recent customer reviews
Loved this book. Well crafted, intimate memoir of a man coming to terms with his childhood and difficult relationship with his father while reconstructing his fathers suit. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jestferlaffs
An interesting story. I passed it along to a friend who is in the business. I had a different expectation of the book, but Lee's personal story was worth the read. Read morePublished on May 12 2013 by BRYAN WALKER