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Pull Me Up: A Memoir

Pull Me Up: A Memoir

5.0 2
by Dan Barry

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"Beautifully written, utterly felt, it will enrich all who read it."—Anna Quindlen
Agenerational memoir of the American suburbs, Pull Me Up is a deeply affecting book. With prose that to Frank McCourt "flashes with poetry," New York Times columnist Dan Barry tells the story of an unforgettable American family. He writes so crisply that we not only feel his


"Beautifully written, utterly felt, it will enrich all who read it."—Anna Quindlen
Agenerational memoir of the American suburbs, Pull Me Up is a deeply affecting book. With prose that to Frank McCourt "flashes with poetry," New York Times columnist Dan Barry tells the story of an unforgettable American family. He writes so crisply that we not only feel his emotions but also recall our own: the joy of Little League, the thrill of small-town reporting, the pain of losing a parent, and the fear of facing a life-threatening illness. Barry's writing has its own stalwart beauty, a single melody teased out of the American symphony. Here is the voice of an authentic American writer.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Having carved out a niche for himself with a regular column in The New York Times, Barry now trains his keen eye on his own story in Pull Me Up. The eldest of four children, he recounts his amusingly idiosyncratic childhood in a slightly off-kilter Irish-American clan of Deer Park, Long Island, including a father who believes in UFOs and a mother whose collection of seashells and garden statuary threatens to overtake the very refuge it guards.

But Barry's youth gives way to a young adulthood when his career as a reporter begins to accelerate while his parents face financial setbacks and deteriorating health. Barry paints a tender but troubling portrait of his forbears. His mother faces lung cancer with quiet stoicism, nursing a beer and countless cigarettes by the blue light of the television. His father screams in agony from the bedroom upstairs, begging to be rid of the pain caused by the untreatable migraines he has endured for nearly 20 years.

But despite the obvious suffering -- including Barry's own bout with cancer in his late 30s -- Pull Me Up is not a memoir of overwhelming heartbreak. Instead, Dan Barry delivers a story of poignant beauty and wry humor from the details of his suburban American family's life, in true reportorial fashion. (Summer 2004 Selection)

Wendy Wasserstein
Pull Me Up is an extraordinarily lyrical look at a mid-20th-century working-class Irish-American family. Unlike other recollections of that period, Dan Barry's memoir of life in suburban Long Island is neither retro nor campy. In the flat world of parking lots, tract homes, yellow school buses and Little League, Mr. Barry has managed to find the richness of heart of a now oddly distant America.
The New York Times
The New York Times Book Review
There seems to be a notion afoot that the memoir has overstayed its welcome, that there is something inherently tacky about the parade of seminobodies exhibiting their stumps of addiction or abuse...I hope we can always celebrate a writer who, trying to make intelligent sense of life's confusions, gives us a memoir that is witty, self-aware and peopled with strong characters. That's the case with Pull Me Up, by Dan Barry.—Phillip Lopate
Publishers Weekly
Although Barry is the New York Times's "About New York" columnist, his memoir isn't the story of his award-winning journalism career. More like Pete Hamill or Frank McCourt, Barry wants to recount growing up Irish and Catholic on Long Island in the late 1950s and '60s. "Pull me up" was his mom's morphine-soaked plea as she lay dying of lung cancer on the living room sofa-and what a shock it was that his mother was the first to go, as his father had suffered through paralyzing cluster migraines for 20 years. Barry takes readers back to what he calls the Eisenhower years, when gas stations handed out "plaid stamps," women's perms had a distinct "chemical whiff" and delis made potato salad loaded with bacon. He lovingly details seasoning his baseball mitt, oiling, binding and hiding it under his mattress. He relives his Catholic school upbringing, complete with hazing from upperclassmen and pedophilic assaults from Brother Noel, but also those wonderful teachers who helped him realize his calling as a writer. After college came various jobs and romances, even marriage and adopting a baby, all of which is very entertaining, but is horribly interrupted six months after Barry's mother dies, when he finds himself diagnosed, at age 41, with cancer. Perhaps anyone's struggle to survive a deadly illness transforms their life; as Barry puts it, he knew "what it was like to nearly drown," and then felt the "sting of a saltwater blessing" on his face. This is a beautiful book. Agents, Todd Shuster and Lane Zachary. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"About New York" columnist for the New York Times, this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist now writes about himself. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

The "This Land" columnist for The New York Times, Dan Barry has shared a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award, and received the 2003 Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He lives with his family in Maplewood, New Jersey.

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Pull Me Up 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
tincanman More than 1 year ago
Why did I take this book from the library shelf? Was it because my son is named Danny I don't know. Was it meant for me to read this book, I think so. Many of the reasons I could not put the book down was some of family problems were the same as mine. I came to Long Island in 1969 to raise my 3 sons for a better life for them. Like the Barry's I came from Queens in Woodside. and was a Dashing Dan on the LIRR.When I finished reading the book I was crying for Dan. I am a cancer survivor his thoughts and my thoughts were the same, was I angry yes I was. I am still receiving treatment of my prostate. Dan my faith has been the one that has made me reach 81 years. When will it end I don't know we just have to take was ever is given to us. Pull me up was written from your heart and you should be very proud of your story it is what life is all about. To many people take things for granted in this world today, your story turns on the light as to what it is all about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's pretty obvious why The New York Times hired Barry: the man can write. In this beautifully detailed story, he describes his youth, Catholic schools, college years, marriage, job search, and, best of all, his parents, who could have easily come out of this book as skewered caricatures (given their peculiarities) but instead emerge as ordinary heroes. But Barry saves the best for last: his battle with cancer, in which he paints -- with the finest of strokes -- portraits of a cab driver, friends, and Dr. Pfister. Moving but far from maudlin.