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Memories of My Father Watching TV Paperback – Jun 1 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (June 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564781895
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564781895
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,214,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

In this darkly funny novel about family in the 1950s and '60s, television serves as both stage and star. It is a capricious god that provokes and shapes the family members and their relationships with each other, particularly the relationship (or lack thereof) between father and son. ("My father has been in a cataleptic trance before the TV since November of 1963. I think there was something hypnotic in the Kennedy funeral procession.")

Instead of being punished by his own feelings of guilt for his neglect of his family, Dad is figuratively punished by imagining that the cast of Combat is pursuing him. In the text, however, the scene of his pursuit appears to be real. In his here's-what-it-means-to-be-a-man role, Dad eats the cheapest no-name brand of liverwurst, Vienna sausages right out of the can, uncooked Spam, and Cheez Whiz--aerosol--sprayed straight from the container. All of it is consumed in front of the TV, of course.

These hours in front of the idiot box illuminate the tragic truth of the stuff that many father/son relationships are made of: silence but for media mentoring. Curtis White brilliantly depicts the family unit transformed into rage and reruns. --Susan Swartwout

From Publishers Weekly

Not to be mistaken for TV Guide, White's (Anarcho-Hindu: The Damned, Weird Book of Fate) witty collection does revolve around a night of TV viewing, but these 1950s serials have never been seen on prime timeAthanks to their adult content, their black humor and their tendency to trap the narrator's father inside them. In "Combat," Dad's a bridge; in "Dotto" (a quiz show like the $64,000 Question), he's a cheating contestant; in "Sea Hunt," he's a missing diver. Reminiscent of the technique employed by Robert Coover in A Night at the Movies, the stories move between the audienceAin this case, the family of a boy named Curtis WhiteAand the demented, autonomous television set. Of course, the detritus of conformist 1950s popular culture has been preferred fodder for satirists since R. Crumb. That's the one problem with this virtuosic spoof. Although the satire is on target, it is very familiar, not least from today's TV: even the lamest shows have learned to make ironic reference to their own stereotypes. White is at his best when he balances riffs on, say, the Kitchen Debate between Nixon and Khrushchev with his own fictionalized autobiography, bringing pathos to what would otherwise amount to shooting fictional fish (or, perhaps, plastic ducks) in a barrel. (June) FYI: Half of Dalkey Archives' May issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction will be devoted to essays on White.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Hilarious, irreverant, highly original, and deeply resonant, but finally a sad lament about the relationship of a father and son via the TV. Memories of My Father Watching TV has as its protagonists television shows of the 1950s and '60s, around which the personalities of family members are shaped. The shows have a life of their own and become the arena of shared experience, veering off into whacky "memories" where what really happened is often confused with vaguely remembered television plot lines, and become a son's projections of what he wants for himself and his father through characters in shows like "Combat," "Highway Patrol," and "Bonanza." In the background, as children try to fit themselves into the family mythology of good and bad TV, their budding imaginations record every hurt, near hurt, or imagined hurt inflicted upon them by silent, depressed, nearly catatonic fathers. Comic in many ways, Memories of My Father Watching TV pricks at the pain lurking beneath the blue-light glow of one of our most universal experiences -- staring at the tube.
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Format: Paperback
My 28 year old daughter gave me this for Father's Day because she knows I like old TV shows. I believe she had no idea about the content. I guess to be chartiable I will call this an artist's book about fathers. old TV shows, sexual fantasies, and altered mental states. I like books in which I can see and follow the plot. I like an interesting story. Two of my favorites this year have been A Civil Action and Confederates in the Attic. If you like dream-like sequences of action, you might like this book. I simply couldn't get into the flow of action or plot because I couldn't find one. I must give the author a good deal of credit for creative thinking but he did not engage me in his private worlds of TV and fatherhood. In the beginning I thought I was reading a critical review of TV. I even rechecked the book to see how it was described. It was called a work of fiction but felt more like a stream of unconsciousness, in which there was no sense of reality. If you want so! mething really offbeat and short, you might try this book. If you want a good story, definitely look elsewhere.
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By A Customer on Oct. 23 1998
Format: Paperback
I have been reading this book for a while, because I am in school and I have other books that I'm forced to read. When I pick up _Memories of my Father_, it's like finding a forgotten half-carton of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in the fridge. I find this book EXCRUTIATINGLY funny, STAGGERINGLY smart, and as thick as a scoop of Chocolate Fudge Brownie. It's not very often that you can pick up a book by a critically acclaimed author and laugh out loud. It's not very often that you can laugh out loud while reading a book, and feel absolutely justified because the humor is smart, sharp, and challenging.
I am 26 years old and have no memory of ANY of the TV shows White is spoofing. I also have no memory whatsoever of my father. However, this book's critique of American values and the complex and worldview of the Velveeta-eating, armchair-inhabiting American male is relevant beyond the scope of its irreverent title. It's the funniest book I've read this year.
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