Titel: My Father, Dancing
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included
Auflage: 1st Edition
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Eight stories about relationships between men and women--but especially between fathers and daughters--in a beautiful debut from Bliss Broyard.
The fathers in Broyard's collection are charismatic, seductive, often brilliant men who are large in the world and even larger in the home, irresistible but also harmful, beautiful but not benign. Their daughters veer wildly between naive longing--for attention, for connection, for assurance--and cool indifference. They learn to reflect their fathers' light, often at the expense of their own.
In spare, unsentimental prose, Broyard captures the passages of daughters, both as young girls and as grown women: the early lessons girls absorb through their fathers--their first male audience--and the secrets girls keep as they test their own desires; the dislocation of discovering, and identifying with, a parent's infidelity; the struggle to escape from familial roles and the unyielding impulse to re-create them. From the perplexity of first kisses and first love to the fierce, joyless abandon of casual sex; from the equivocal attachments of marriages and families to the pure and inconsolable grief of love and mourning so poignantly depicted in the collection's title story, the stories in My Father, Dancing chronicle the never-ending dance between fathers and their daughters, and the many awakenings of girls and women.
When your father's a noted literary critic--in this case, the late Anatole Broyard--and you entitle your debut collection My Father, Dancing, speculation on the autobiographical roots of your fiction seems not merely inevitable but self-sought. Thus it is with Bliss Broyard's eight tales of fumbling love and burdensome discoveries, stories that feel like snippets from some greater book, or, perhaps, an actual life. Which is not to deny their power--they are engaging and carefully constructed, graceful examinations of the uneasy, tentative relationships young women often forge with the men in their lives.
Over half the stories feature, to some degree, fathers--intelligent, manipulative men, alternately charming and pompous. In "The Trouble with Mr. Leopold," a girl discerns the shortcomings of both her father and one of her teachers, and discovers her own voice amidst their contending ones. In "Mr. Sweetly Indecent," a young woman confronts not only her adulterous father, but also the superficiality of some of her own romances. The title story offers a young woman sheathed in recollections of her father even as he lies dying. And the final two, "A Day in the Country" and "Snowed In," present girls thrust into uncomfortable, unwanted sexual encounters.
Broyard is particularly adept at coaxing revelations from the intersection of desires. Inevitably, it seems, while her characters seek reconciliation or acceptance, they likewise buttress their countervailing defenses. Broyard's women are wary, ambivalent about men, and apt to view intimacy as alluring in the ideal but somewhat estranging in practice. "Picturing the apartment now," one character reflects, "filled with her and Max's things and all the photos of them--on beaches, at parties, huddled with a group of their friends--she cannot bring herself to go home." Her women, unfortunately, can also become redundant, inflections of a single fallible character: aloof, possessed of an observer's detachment, distractingly and curiously preoccupied with the dancing abilities of others. It's impossible not to feel that, with all their clever, illuminating power, these stories promise larger worlds. --Ben Guterson
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