Cover image for My father's ghost : the return of my old man and other second chances : a memoir
My father's ghost : the return of my old man and other second chances : a memoir
Charnas, Suzy McKee.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, [2002]

Physical Description:
306 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3553.H325 Z466 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"My Father's Ghost" is a wise woman's look at a "failed" father-daughter relationship--how it hurt, how it healed, and how, ultimately and in unexpected ways, the problem father became the daughter's strength. My Father's Ghostwill be an inspiration to anyone who is dealing with a parent's aging or approaching death, and fans of this splended writer will find her at her best here." (Sarah Smith, author of A Citizen of the Country) "In My Father's GhostSuzy McKee Charnas reveals a father-daughter relationship at levels recognized only by the heart...she communicates the fears and wishes that surround dying in a personal and uplifting story. I recommend this book to all." (Daniel Hays, author of My Old Man and the Sea) "My Father's Ghostis a thoughtful, sad and loving study of the life and death of a brilliant and troublesome man. You'll be glad you read it. (Tony Hillerman) When Suzy McKee Charnas realized that her father could no longer care for himself on his own, she invited him to come live in the old adobe "in-law" cottage beside her own in New Mexico. My Father's Ghostskillfully traces a parent-child relationship inverted by the changes of aging. Over the last seventeen years of her father's life-as she drove him to the grocery store, to the bank, or picked him up off the floor after he had fallen-Charnas struggled to understand this man whose former artistic ambition seemed to hang like a shadow over his old age. She reflects on the difficulties inherent in their situation even as she reveals that her father's inability to care for himself afforded them the opportunity to bridge a gap that might easily never have been mended. A moving portrait of the last chapter in a father-daughter relationship and of the divide between the person we are in our youth and who we become in our old age, My Father's Ghostwill resonate deeply with anyone facing old age or caring for an elderly loved one.

Author Notes

Suzy McKee Charnas is the Nebula Award-winning author of twelve science fiction and fantasy novels

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

When science fiction author Charnas realizes her artist-father can no longer remain alone in his Greenwich Village loft, she has him live with her and her husband in an "in-law" adobe on their Albuquerque property. That final homecoming, far from his beloved New York, is the focus of his daughter's memoir, one rich with flashbacks to her baffling divorce, her childhood, and her sister's relationship with their father, the most difficult man in her life. In the present, Charnas' father refuses to wash his long, greasy hair; he fears that to do so will result in baldness, but what does result is cradle cap, a scalp infection associated with poor hygienic care of infants. He manages to drive--barely--and relies increasingly on Charnas for trips to the grocery store within the narrow time frame when he will be sure to find blueberry muffins there. Throughout, Charnas' beautifully written rendering of this father-daughter duo's humanity holds our attention on the sometimes elusive, often baffling bonds that make a family. --Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Charnas's memoir of her father Robin's demise begins with the flashbulb moment where she realizes he can't live independently anymore. She asks him to read back the telephone number she has just given him and he responds simply "I didn't get it... I can't see to write it down." Charnas recalls, "I got a sinking feeling. My father was living in a loft on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan. I now lived in an adobe house in Albuquerque. My husband and I were launching new careers.... There was no money to spare for flying back and forth to New York." Charnas, a Nebula Award-winning science fiction and fantasy novelist, barely hesitates before inviting Robin, whom she hardly knew as a child, to come live in the "in-law" cottage next to her own home. What follows is a moving, thoughtful, sometimes tedious but never sentimental account of how daughter and father get to know each other in middle and old age. Book One lingers a bit too long on Charnas's childhood and opaque, rambling excerpts from Robin's journals. It's clear that she's just trying to paint a clear picture of her curmudgeonly father. But Book Two, which chronicles Robin's time in a nursing home, is much stronger. Here, Robin's unique combination of eccentricity and strength speaks for itself, especially when he's quietly holding hands with his new girlfriend, Jane. Charnas's story is bound to be a guidebook and an inspiration for anyone caring for aging parents. (Oct. 1) Forecast: Blurbs from Tony Hillerman and Peter Straub could make this popular among baby boomers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1. Wine and Ashesp. 1
Book 1 The Second Chance
2. Going Blindp. 17
3. Nuclear Family Fissionp. 33
4. Mr. Genialityp. 49
5. Las Palomasp. 59
6. Green Truckp. 71
7. Bredds and Muffinsp. 78
8. Momp. 90
9. False Teethp. 98
10. George and Bibip. 114
11. Chinatownp. 128
12. The Death of Fred Astairep. 140
Book 2 Falling Off the Cliff as He Fled from the Tiger, the Man Saw a Flower Growing on the Cliff Face and Thought, "How Lovely!"
13. Cedar Streetp. 153
14. Fear of Fallingp. 170
15. Vista de la Muertep. 187
16. Let Me Pop You in My Sack, Says Deathp. 204
17. The Man with the Cauliflower Brainp. 219
18. Life Sentencep. 235
19. Jane, Jane, Jane!p. 247
20. And Then You Diep. 263
21. Who Was That Masked Man?p. 282
22. Visitationsp. 296