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Fathering Daughters: Reflections by Men


A landmark collection of original essays that fills the void of writing by men about their daughters. Contributors include Phillip Lopate, Rick Bass, Gerald Early, Gary Soto, Scott Sanders, Nicholas Delbanco, and Alan Cheuse.
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A landmark collection of original essays that fills the void of writing by men about their daughters. Contributors include Phillip Lopate, Rick Bass, Gerald Early, Gary Soto, Scott Sanders, Nicholas Delbanco, and Alan Cheuse.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lily, Annie, Katie Chun, Anya, Mary Katherine, Lowry, Madison, Linnet, Ruth, Aviva, Francesca, Andrea, Mariko, Rachelthese are among the daughters whose stories their fathers chronicle here. All the pieces commissioned for this book by Henry, founding editor of Ploughshares, and McPherson (Crabcakes) are literate and absorbing; several have appeared elsewhere. In the most wrenching selection, Mark Pendergrast, author of For God, Country and Coca-Cola, relates the estrangement of his two daughters, who broke off contact with him after supposedly retrieving "memories" of his sexual abuse. In one of the most enlightening accounts, Samuel Shem, a psychiatrist, who with his wife traveled to China to adopt their daughter, details the gender differentiation to which boys and girls in all cultures are subject from the earliest age. Fred Viebahn (The Stain) talks about raising a biracial child with his wife, the poet Rita Dove. And in the most poignant account, William Petersen, a fishmonger and writer, relates a trip to Mexico with his daughter, who is gravely weakened by leukemia. This is a collection for those interested in bedrock human relations. (June)
Library Journal
Fathers, long considered to be less involved with their children than mothers and prone to disinterest and even abandonment, are the subject of this collection of essays. The book focuses on the concern fathers feel for their daughters and includes the overwhelming sense of responsibility that accompanies fatherhood. The collection, which begins with a piece about birth and ends with one about an anticipated death, comments on the various stages of a daughter's life. Especially moving is Mark Pendergrast's account of his dismay and horror when both his grown daughters became involved in the recovered memory movement and accused him of abuse. The outstanding feature of this collection lies in the deep commitment to fatherhood that the writers express. It is refreshing, in this age of competition and hostility between the sexes, to witness such respect and admiration from men toward their wives, ex-wives, and daughters. Highly recommended for all public libraries.--Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Kirkus Reviews
These essays by writers including Rick Bass, Alan Cheuse, Nicholas Delbanco, Mark Pendergrast, and editors McPherson (Crabcakes, 1998, etc.) and Henry (founding editor of Ploughshares magazine), among others, strike deep into the heart of issues spanning both nurture and gender relations, and represent some of the best recent writing about manhood. Looking beyond a politicized definition of the father-daughter relationship, the editors have sought for this collection essays that express what they call "the perplexities of parenting daughters during these decades of questioning, polarization, and social change." The results are grouped by life-stage ("Arrivals," "Early Childhood," "Girlhood and Adolescence," etc.). In the opening essay, about the birth of his daughter, Lily, Phillip Lopate struts his stuff, skillfully combining humor and seriousness to arrive at a persuasive rejection of solipsism. Fictionists Adam Schwartz and Samuel Shem are both fathers of adopted Chinese orphans. Says Shem in describing his young daughter's searching intensity, "Living with Katie is like living with a twenty-four-hour-a-day Zen master." Gerald Early, himself an African-American, recalls teaching his teenage daughter to drive and her search for a race-free identity. DeWitt Henry worries about his teenage daughter's late-night partying, and Gary Soto writes about living with depression as a father. All of these perspectives reveal hard-won insights about parenting girls and young women from a man's perspective. As might be expected of any thematic collection, some of the essays here are stronger than others. But the best are truly memorable, as with McPherson's "Disneyland," in which separation andrace figure prominently, and which incorporates a haunting jazz-like refrain; and photographer William Peterson's "Border," about a last trip to Mexico with a daughter dying of leukemia ("there are some things you cannot accept"). Fine personal writings, to be published for Father's Day, that deserve a wide audience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807062197
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Arrivals
Delivering Lily 3
A Story for Ancient Moon 20
Pt. 2 Early Childhood
A Prayer for Connection 29
The Mistake Game 42
My Daughters 53
Pt. 3 Girlhood and Adolescence
Prayers for My Daughter 67
The Driving Lesson 72
Wide-Eyed 79
Aviva's World: Reason, Race, and Some Degrees of Separation 93
A Prayer for the Daughters 106
Getting It Done 118
Pt. 4 Separations
Disneyland 129
Daughters Lost 150
Man in the Middle Visits Daughter at School 172
Father and Daughter 180
Pt. 5 Wings
To Eva, on Your Marriage 193
Building Back through Time 205
Border 208
Pt. 6 Coda
Ordinary Blessings: A Letter to My Daughter on the Eve of Her Birth 219
Contributors 235
Credits 238
Acknowledgments 239
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