Cover image for The story of my father
Title:
The story of my father
Author:
Miller, Sue, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Random House Audio, 2003.
Physical Description:
5 audio disc (approximately 6 hrs.) : digital, stereophonic ; 4 3/4 in.
Summary:
In this memoir, Sue Miller finds herself caring for her father as he slips into the grasp of Alzheimer's disease. Miller brings her father, James Nichols, to life as she recounts her struggle with doctors and a disease that steals all that is meaninful from her father.
General Note:
Compact disc.

Unabridged.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780739301913
UPC:
9780739301913
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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PS3563.I421444 Z475 2003C Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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Summary

Summary

In the fall of 1988, Sue Miller found herself caring for her father as he slipped into the grasp of Alzheimer's disease. She was, she claims, perhaps the least constitutionally suited of all her siblings to be in the role in which she suddenly found herself, and in The Story of My Father she grapples with the haunting memories of those final months and the larger narrative of her father's life. With compassion, self-scrutiny, and an urgency born of her own yearning to rescue her father's memory from the disorder and oblivion that marked his dying and death, Sue Miller takes us on an intensely personal journey that becomes, by virtue of her enormous gifts of observation, perception, and literary precision, a universal story of fathers and daughters.
James Nichols was a fourth-generation minister, a retired professor from Princeton Theological Seminary. Sue Miller brings her father brilliantly to life in these pages-his religious faith, his endless patience with his children, his gaiety and willingness to delight in the ridiculous, his singular gifts as a listener, and the rituals of church life that stayed with him through his final days. She recalls the bitter irony of watching him, a church historian, wrestle with a disease that inexorably lays waste to notions of time, history, and meaning. She recounts her struggle with doctors, her deep ambivalence about many of her own choices, and the difficulty of finding, continually, the humane and moral response to a disease whose special cruelty it is to dissolve particularities and to diminish, in so many ways, the humanity of those it strikes. She reflects, unforgettably, on the variable nature of memory, the paradox of trying to weave a truthful narrative from the threads of a dissolving life. And she offers stunning insight into her own life as both a daughter and a writer, two roles that swell together here in a poignant meditation on the consolations of storytelling.
With the care, restraint, and consummate skill that define her beloved and best-selling fiction, Sue Miller now gives us a rigorous, compassionate inventory of two lives, in a memoir destined to offer comfort to all sons and daughters struggling-as we all eventually must-to make peace with their fathers and with themselves. From the Hardcover edition.


Author Notes

Sue Miller was born November 29, 1943. She received a B.A. from Radcliffe College in 1964. She was a high school teacher, a cocktail waitress and a model before becoming a full time mother. Soon after the birth of her child, she divorced her first husband. Afterwards, she founded the Harvard Day Care Centers and worked as a preschool teacher. At the age of 35, she began writing after joining a writing workshop.

Her first novel The Good Mother (1986), which is about a divorced woman caught up in a fierce custody battle, was on the bestsellers list for six months. Her other works include Family Pictures (1990), For Love (1993), The Distinguished Guest (1995), and While I Was Gone (1999). She also has a short story collection titled Inventing the Abbotts and Other Stories (1987).

Several of her books have been adapted into movies including The Good Mother (1988), which was directed by Leonard Nimoy and starred Diane Keaton and Liam Neeson; Family Pictures (1993), which starred Anjelica Houston and Sam Neill; and Inventing the Abbotts (1997), which starred Liv Tyler. She is currently a professor of creative writing at Smith College.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Miller's heartbreaking story of her gentle clergyman father's descent into Alzheimer's disease is part bibliotherapy, part memoir as she struggles to conquer her grief and banish her last haunting images of him, hoping to reclaim him as the loving parent he was for most of his life. In 1986, Miller is forced to starkly confront her father's illness when she receives a telephone call from the police, who have detained him; he is terribly disoriented and has lost his car. Like an archaeologist, Miller begins to sift and resift the past, looking for clues to the onset of the illness. Then eloquently, always eloquently, she sounds the universal chord of dismay felt by children forced to watch helplessly as their parents are beset by grave illness: "This could not be what was happening to Dad. Not to my father. That he would be diminished, and diminished again, before he died? That I would lose him, over and over, before the final loss?" Miller's book is another fine addition to the growing body of poignant literature on dealing with Alzheimer's, such as, most recently, Eleanor Cooney's Death in Slow Motion (see p.814). Joanne Wilkinson


Publisher's Weekly Review

Miller's first nonfiction book (after While I Was Gone; The World Below; etc.), about caring for her Alzheimer's-afflicted father, is a rare example of an illness memoir with widespread appeal. Prospective readers need not have any interest in Alzheimer's; they need only have parents of their own to appreciate this testimony's dignity and grace. Miller's father, James Nichols, started showing signs of dementia in 1986, when he was picked up by the police after ringing a stranger's doorbell in the middle of the night, announcing he was lost. Miller's careful recounting of James's slow demise and progression through the various stages of an assisted living community are punctuated by pleasant memories and even humor, e.g., when James, a retired religious scholar, assesses his surroundings and comments, "No one ever seems to graduate from here." As she recalls childhood stories and family memories, Miller simultaneously offers a memoir of her own development as a writer. "[T]his is the hardest lesson... for a caregiver: you can never do enough to make a difference in the course of the disease," Miller writes. "We always find ourselves deficient in devotion.... Did you visit once a week? you might have visited twice. Oh, you visited daily? but perhaps he would have done better if you'd kept him at home. In the end all those judgments, those self-judgments, are pointless. This disease is inexorable, cruel. It scoffs at everything." 11 photos. BOMC alternate. (Mar. 19) Forecast: Miller's popularity among women readers of literary works-many whom are probably dealing with aging parents themselves-could shoot this one onto bestseller lists, and Knopf shouldn't have trouble selling out its 75,000 first printing. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

As her father succumbs to Alzheimer's, Miller examines both his life and her own. The popular novelist will launch her first book-length piece of nonfiction with a seven-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.