RENOVATIONS: A Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscover Each Other

John Marchese, Author
John Marchese, Author RENOVATIONS: A Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscove $23.95 (239p) ISBN 978-1-57322-174-0
Reviewed on: 04/09/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001

Call it a midlife crisis: Marchese didn't know how to use a hammer when, at 40, he bought a one-and-a-half-story Cape Cod fixer-upper in rural New York to tear it apart and rebuild it. In an attempt also to repair a broken relationship, Marchese (a sophisticated, urban-dwelling freelance journalist) asked his cranky, 73-year-old father (an opinionated, second-generation Italian immigrant and former construction worker) to help him. While several passages detail the intricacies of installing a dormer or erecting scaffolding, the book is far more fun than a standard how-to book. Marchese's humor and self-deprecation, as well as his frank and candid portrayals of his father (who at first laughed out loud when the author donned a tool belt), capture certain essentials about being a father and a son. Marchese mentions his work attire: "It's my latest costume.... I am wearing nearly three hundred dollars' worth of old clothes. For some reason, I can't resist mentioning this to my father." He also portrays the smalltown life he's come to love with sensitive whimsy, introducing readers to Bob the plumber, Miss Mary the bartender, a bully named Lurch and Reiger the Realtor. He even throws a few barbs at TV's home improvement pioneer, Bob Vila, whom the author interviewed for a New York Times assignment. Marchese sprinkles references throughout to other authors who focused on father-son relationships in their writing: Nietzsche, Arthur Miller, Philip Roth and especially John Cheever. Replete with expressive passages, Marchese's tale will please readers of many ages and stations. (May 7)

Forecast:Though due out in May, this title (whose first serial will appear in Book magazine) will easily register on the radar of sons looking for June Father's Day gifts.