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)