A Father's Words

A Father's Words

by Richard G. Stern, Stern
     
 

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Cy Riemer—fifty-ish, divorced, and father of four—surveys the dispersal of his family with a mixture of anxiety, humor, sadness, and pride. In this wry, moving, and wise novel, Richard Stern offers his masterful portrait of Cy as the quintessential caring yet controlling parent, a relentless seeker of self-knowledge whose search is intensified through

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Overview

Cy Riemer—fifty-ish, divorced, and father of four—surveys the dispersal of his family with a mixture of anxiety, humor, sadness, and pride. In this wry, moving, and wise novel, Richard Stern offers his masterful portrait of Cy as the quintessential caring yet controlling parent, a relentless seeker of self-knowledge whose search is intensified through conflicts with his brilliant, ne'er-do-well son Jack. The "manipulation of a smart, sane, self-justifying narrator . . . is not the least of Stern's achievements in this delicate fabrication of tough prose and tender adjustment of sentiment."—Geoffrey Wolff, Los Angeles Times

"Richard Stern's novels are robustly intelligent, very funny, and beguilingly humane. He knows as much as anyone writing American prose about family mischief, intellectual shenanigans, love blunders—and about writing American prose."—Philip Roth

"A delectable rhetorical display. . . . "—The New Yorker

"Anyone who has read Richard Stern's previous novels won't need to be told he is an unusually crisp and intelligent writer, with a sharp edge to his wit; and in A Father's Words he runs true to form. Many of the book's pleasures are incidental: jokes, intellectual cadenzas, agile turns of phrase . . . The author's powers of farcical invention climax in a brilliant, bitter episode where . . . the younger man proclaims his final failure . . . Mr. Stern has written an excellent novel."—John Gross, New York Times

"Richard Stern is American letters' unsung comic writer about serious matters . . . [A Father's Words] produced in this reviewer an apostolic desire to convince a wider audience to try Stern, especially the vintage Stern."—Doris Grumbach, Chicago Tribune

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Cyrus Riemer publishes a science newsletter out of Chicago while struggling through the early 1980s with morality, changes of fortune, his ex-wife and his lover, and his four grown children. Jack infuriates his father with passive-aggressive behavior and by moving in with his mother, prostituting the newsletter, and finally ridiculing Cy on national television. Stern plays this Oedipal conflict mainly for laughs, but some laughs may be too esoteric or arch for most readers. For example: ```I'm losing my grip,' I told Emma. `You're gripped by griplessness.' She'd read Heidegger in modern German thought.'' Some Chicago targets, such as a thinly disguised Milton Friedman, are more familiar than others, such as a certain library book review source. The difficulty of liking the castrating narrator-father, rapid and frequent changes in tone, and a slow first chapter also mean that Stern ( Other Men's Daughters ) remains an acquired taste. Hugh M. Crane, Brockton P.L., Mass.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226773223
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
01/04/1990
Series:
Phoenix Fiction Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.28(w) x 8.05(h) x 0.57(d)

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