MY FATHER'S GHOST: The Return of My Old Man and Other Second Chances

Suzy McKee Charnas, Author . Putnam/Tarcher $23.95 (306p) ISBN 978-1-58542-185-5

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.

Reviewed on: 08/05/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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