Life With Father (Common Reader Classic Bestseller Series)by Clarence Day
When the delicious comic tales that make up Life with Father first appeared in the early 1930s, they played a large hand in keeping afloat a fledgling magazine called The New Yorker. Clarence Day's reminiscences of growing up in a turn-of-the-century New York household which keeps wriggling out from under the thumb of a blustering Wall Street paterfamilias are classics of American humor, lively and nostalgic sketches that still manage to evoke the enduring comedy of family life. Father's explosive encounters with horse and cook, servants and shopkeepers, wife and childrento say nothing of his vigorous pursuit of ice!retain their hilarious appeal in no small part because the younger Day never seems put out by the older man's actions, never describes him with less than affectionate amusement. As a result, Life with Father remains as a contemporary critic described it: "A delightful book alive with energy and collisions and the running water of happiness."
A bestseller when it was first published in 1935, Life with Father was the inspiration for one of the longest-running hits in Broadway history and was later adapted successfully for both film and television.
Clarence Day was born in 1874. After graduation from Yale, he followed his father to Wall Street, but his business career was cut short by illness. Turning to writing and drawing, he became an early contributor to The New Yorker and authored several books, the most famous of which was Life with Father. Day died in December 1935, just a few months after Life with Father was published. Life with Mother appeared posthumously.
"A delightful book alive with energy and collisions and the running water of happiness."
The New Republic
"One of the most chuckling books of our time."
"The only reason for reading Life with Father is the fun of it."
New York Times
"Such a rich and rounded character as Father has not appeared in literature for many a year. A novelist would be ranked as a genius for inventing him; Clarence Day didn't need to."
"It won't be so much fun reading Life with Father unless you have someone at hand to whom you can read snatches whenever enjoyment becomes too great to be self-contained any longer."
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Clarence Shepard Day Jr. (November 18, 1874–December 28, 1935) grew up in New York City, NY in the 1890s and early 1900's. His father, Clarence S. “Clare” Day Sr., was a Wall Street broker. The son attended St. Paul's School and graduated from Yale University in 1896, where he edited campus humor magazine The Yale Record. The following year, he joined the New York Stock Exchange, and became a partner in his father's Wall Street brokerage firm. Day enlisted in the Navy in 1898, but developed crippling arthritis and spent the remainder of his life as a semi-invalid, making his living as a writer and long-time contributor to The New Yorker magazine. His first book, This Simian World (1920), was a collection of humorous essays and illustrations. He is best known for his 1935 autobiographical work Life With Father which detailed humorous episodes in his family's life, centering on his rather domineering but still lovable father. Day's comic stories of his father are taken from his serialized articles in the The New Yorker magazine. Drawn from his own family experiences, these were pleasant and gently satirical portraits of a late Victorian household dominated by a gruff, opinionated father who demands that everything from his family should be just so, and a warm, charming mother. Some people don’t like them because they feel that Mr. Day was vulgar, disrespectful, and obnoxious. I tend to agree with others who point out that, yes, the father is somewhat rude, maybe even intolerant and tyrannical, but following his antics is still very humorous. Remember, the author is describing real events and real people. The book does paint an accurate picture of life in that time for a middle class family. And it is evident that “Clare” loved his wife and family, and while he blustered and yelled at times, they loved him. There are references to smoking tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverages, and dancing. My biggest complaint is the sheer amount of profanity and cursing Mr. Day used. Thus, I would suggest that the best use of this book would be as a family read aloud so that the bad language could be eliminated. Aside from this problem, I found the book very amusing. Scenes from the book, along with its 1932 predecessor, God and My Father, and its 1937 sequel, Life with Mother, published posthumously, were the basis for the 1939 play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, which became one of Broadway's longest-running non-musical hits. In 1947, the year the play ended on Broadway, William Powell and Irene Dunne portrayed Day's parents in the film of the same name. Life with Father also became a popular 1953–1955 television sitcom.