Life, Death and Bialys: A Father/Son Baking Story

Overview

In 2002 Flip Schaffer asked his son to join him in a bread making class at a fancy cooking school in New York. At first, the idea seemed considerably less than half-baked. Dylan didn't have much of a relationship with his father -- not since he left Dylan and his three siblings in the care of their mentally ill mother thirty years earlier. And, Flip, diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer, wasn't expected to survive the year.

But Flip made it. They baked. And one of them survived ...

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2006-09-05 Hardcover First Edition New in Like New jacket Flawless new first edition, first printing hardcoverr book in also mint dustjacket. MendoPower Employment Services will ... immediately and carefully pack this book in high-quality bubble lined, envelopes. Then we send you a confirmation e-mail. We appreciate your business and welcome any questions. Read more Show Less

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New York 2006 Hard Cover First U. S. Edition (stated) New in Near New jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. FIRST PRINTING of the First U.S. Edition (stated). An often humorous memoir ... of a father and son reuniting, learn to bake bread together, exploring New York City, experiencing each other's pasts and dreams and failures-and coming to terms with cancer. Hardcover with dust jacket, 264pp. A very nice copy, the jacket neatly encased in an acid-free archival plastic protector. Rare. Read more Show Less

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Life, Death & Bialys: A Father/Son Baking Story

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Overview

In 2002 Flip Schaffer asked his son to join him in a bread making class at a fancy cooking school in New York. At first, the idea seemed considerably less than half-baked. Dylan didn't have much of a relationship with his father -- not since he left Dylan and his three siblings in the care of their mentally ill mother thirty years earlier. And, Flip, diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer, wasn't expected to survive the year.

But Flip made it. They baked. And one of them survived to tell the tale. Together, Dylan and Flip struggled through several cramped weeks in a ratty Bowery hotel by night and the French Culinary Institute by day to become artisanal bakers and finally come to terms with each other.

Wonderful and irreverent, Life, Death & Bialys is about letting go of the past, learning how to forgive and how making a decent baguette is harder than it looks.

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Editorial Reviews

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At first glance, Schaffer's memoir appears to cover familiar territory: the impossible father who abandoned his family, the angry son who can't forgive him, and their final reconciliation in the last moments before illness prevails. But trust us, as you turn the pages of this delightful little book, such cynicism will melt away like the hot buttery crumbs of a freshly baked croissant.

Schaffer's father, Flip, is a handful. Smart, charming, and an accomplished academic, he is also impulsive, evasive, and capable of tantrums that would put a two-year-old to shame. He's a playwright whose work has never seen Broadway, a fiction writer whose books never made it to print, and a father of four who stopped being a family man long before his children were prepared for such abandonment.

Life, Death & Bialys narrows its focus to one week in the lives of Flip and Dylan: a week they spend taking a bread-baking class in New York. But the fascinating ins and outs of baking are just one of the gifts this unforgettable and compassionate book has to share. For as Flip and Dylan learn how to bake croissants, brioches, and baguettes -- but not, alas, Flip's beloved bialys -- one can't help but wonder: Will Flip's revelations about his life's choices satisfy the curiosity of his son?

The story of a son's frustrating struggle to understand a father he barely knows, Life, Death & Bialys is a humorous, sensitive, and honest account of a complicated relationship. (Holiday 2006 Selection)
Library Journal
Schaffer, a former criminal appellate lawyer and author of two legal thrillers (Misdemeanor Man and I Right the Wrongs), has produced a memoir about coming to terms with his difficult upbringing. His father, known as Flip, abandoned his unstable wife and their four children when Schaffer was nine years old. In November 2002, Flip, now dying of lung and bladder cancer, calls Schaffer, asking him to participate in a baking class that is over seven months away. Schaffer agrees, never believing his father will make it to the class. Yet he does, and during a week of intense learning and baking, Schaffer finally gets his father to answer for his behavior. Through pain and rejection at one point Schaffer and his two brothers are cut out of their mother's will the author retains a sense of humor that continues to the very end. Included here is Schaffer's recipe for the bialys he made for his father while staying with him in South Carolina. For fans of well-written memoirs in the style of John Grogan's Marley & Me; recommended for most public libraries. Rosemarie Lewis, Broward Cty. P.L., Ft. Lauderdale, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School
When Schaffer's dying father telephoned him in California to invite him to take a baking class with him in New York, he was less than enthusiastic, but he accepted. This was the man who had abandoned him and his siblings to be raised by his clinically depressed "lunatic" mother. To Schaffer, his father was obnoxious, but to the other students, he was charismatic. Though the author still saw all that his father had not been to him, he began to see a more complete picture of the man as others saw him, and he realized that, in his own way, his father was asking for forgiveness. The book moves quickly; it is clever, funny, and poignant as Schaffer reveals some basic human truths that will resonate with teens. Juxtaposed with the story of the father/son relationship is the story of the baking school, including some specifics of bread making. Compare this raw relationship with the more mellow one in Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie (Doubleday, 1997).
—Ellen BellCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dysfunctional family angst rises precariously in bread-baking classes at a New York cooking school. Facing death, Schaffer's father, Flip, who abandoned his family 30 years earlier, convinces son Dylan to join him for a week's course in what is billed as "artisanal" baking at the French Culinary Institute. And so, bonding, more or less, they bunk together in a seedy neighborhood hotel. Workings of the culinary school are outlined, and classmates are neatly sketched. As others see Dylan's father, a professor of history at Clemson University, as cute, his son sees him as oafish. Flip is sloppy. He lies. Long ago, he left his young children in the care of their mother, psychiatrist Cookie, who was certifiably nuts. "He left me to be raised by a crazy woman," says Dylan, now a lawyer and writer of legal thrillers (I Right the Wrongs, 2005, etc.). Dylan hates Flip, and yet loves him more. Truly, Professor Flip is difficult. He's no Morrie on Tuesdays or any other day, and his son expends much of his creative talent whining in a Woody Allen-esque mode about present anger and past slights. Ultimately, of course, understanding grows like yeast, and there is love in the loaves of bread. The intergenerational sniping ends in reconciliation and understanding as Dylan tends to his father in Flip's last days. With much impassioned, highly personal confession, a son unburdens himself. Some readers may feel the author is sometimes too frank, but, withal, when he's on a roll, the writing is as artisanal as the baking. Fraught lessons learned about the stuff of living and the staff of life, along with kvetching in the kitchen.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596911925
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 9/5/2006
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.63 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Dylan Schaffer is the author of Misdemeanor man and I Right The Wrongs. He is a criminal defense lawyer who has served as appellate counsel in more than fifty murder cases, including death penalty cases. He has represented defendants in the San Francisco dog mauling case, the Billionaire Boys Club case, the Repressed Memory Murder case and the John Gotti/Gambino family prosecution. He lives in Oakland, California.

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2007

    Not half baked.....but made with pure Gold.

    I was rather hesitant about reading this...but so very glad that I did. I read mostly thriller/action novels, and this book was a sweet and different change, such a treasure to read, and greatly fulfilling. This had me laughing, crying and drooling for the taste of fresh baked Bialys. You could almost smell the bread baking! This book also helped me deal with my own loving disfunctional family and the current loss of both my parents and a dear sister. Every family has its quirks, and its 'Flips'. But it's this strange mixture of ingredients that make a family. Such a great book. A must read for anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2006

    Funny & Poignant

    Like many adult 'children' of the baby boomer era, I come from a dysfunctional and complex family. Although I have not yet had to contend with the death of a parent, I was able to relate to Dylan's relationship with both of his parents. The inappropriate comments and behavior, the unexplainable conduct and murky family history all bore some resemblance to my own life. The story was told in a deft and humorous way, causing me to laugh out loud at some points and sigh in recognition at others. Even if you've read other memoirs about difficult and dysfunctional relationships, this story will touch you in a fashion much different than the rest. Make sure that you read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Book spoke to me!

    Well written, often LOL funny bread making book about the author's dysfunctional parents. I read it in one long sitting it was so good. Several times a year I buy a dozen or more copies of a book that I really liked and send it to my family and friends. This book will join other favorites like, Arcadia, White Oleander, Deafening, Summer Guest, that I sent to many. I read several books a week and the only book that I have liked more in the past few months has been Terrorist by Updike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2006

    Introspective, Personal and Delightful!

    What an honest and quite touching book! Although I was prepared to read another story about dysfunctional families, I found the range of emotions that this book evoked left me wanting more. It is infact, a beautiful book that must have taken the author through a personal journey that not many people would want to share. Read the book--it will challenge you to be a better person and be grateful for the life you lead.

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    Posted September 30, 2009

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    Posted February 24, 2010

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