Patrimony

Roth, Philip. Novels and Other Narratives 1986 – 1991. Patrimony: A True Story. New York: Library of America, 2008.

I will admit this was hard to read. For starters it is about the relationship Roth had with his father and the illness that finally took that relationship away. Any story about a father tugs at my heart strings because mine is no longer with me. Secondly, Roth’s father died of a brain tumor. My aunt had a brain tumor and while it isn’t the same kind her life has been changed forever because of it. I grieve for the person she used to be.

Philip Roth delivers a touching tribute to his father. With eloquence,  humor and the utmost respect he shares his father’s illness leading up to his final days. Herman Roth wakes up one morning to a strange paralysis, drooping eyelid, slack cheek and slurred speech, on one side of his face. Thinking he has had a stroke Philip takes his father to see a doctor. The news is worse. Herman has a brain tumor at the base of his skull that has been growing for ten years. What follows is a journey of father and son, navigating medical treatments and traversing the rough road of relationships. The result is a touching memoir of discovery for both father and son. If you have never read anything by Roth, read this.

Line that stopped me dead, “You clean up your father’s shit because it has to be cleaned up, but in the aftermath of cleaning it up, everything that’s there to feel is felt as it never was before” (p689). Wow.

Reason read: Father’s Day is June 16th this year. I am reading Patrimony in honor of the father I lost on September 21, 1992.

Author fact: An interesting website for Roth is here.

Book trivia: In 1992 Roth received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony: a True Story.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Me, Me, Me: Autobiographies and Memoirs” (p 163).



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